T-Mobile aims to end the "contracts in perpetuity" trickery

Android Central @ CES

T-Mobile's CEO John Legere hates the "stupid, broken, arrogant industry" that is the current status quo in the US when it comes to how you pay for use of your mobile devices. We know he hates it, because he tells us at every opportunity — today's CES event being a great example. An announcement today shows how they aim to fix it all.

With what they called their "Get Out of Jail" program in today's Uncarrier 4.0 press release, T-Mobile will pay you up to $650 to get out of your current contract and come to their network. Of course, there has to be fine print for an offer like this, and we're all filled with questions, and T-Mobile has a web site up and running to try and help answer them.

The overview is simple enough. Bring your final bill and T-mobile will pay up to $350 to pay off your existing ETF from AT&T, Verizon or Sprint. If you have an eligible phone, they will also give you some cash for it. Up to $300 cash. 

I'm sure we'll find out other details once people start actually using this one, but for now I'd advise everyone considering it to head to T-Mobile's site (see the link below) and do some reading. 


Reader comments

T-Mobile details its plan to pay your ETF from another carrier


Called T-Mobile. Cancelling my contract with Sprint tomorrow - looking forward to joining the T-Mobile family :)

As usual nobody @ the customer level understands the latest promotion.

I have been told everything from Tmo will actually cut a check to the carrier to cover the ETF to Tmo will issue a bill credit in the amount of the ETF.

Again good on Tmo for thinking outside the box, but train your employees better.


Posted via Android Central App

In their website questions they answer that. After you submit your last bill with your final etf charges they will approve it and send you a prepaid Mastercard or visa giftcard that you use to pay the etf fee. Only problem is that it can take up to 8 weeks to get your card. But at least it's not a credit on the account but actual money to pay the etf directly

Posted via Android Central App

Actually it appears you will have to pay the ETF fee way before you get the prepaid card, so it most likely won't be used to pay the etf directly.

If you look at the bottom of the page T-Mo has up about this new thing and click on the "how does it work" question, they state that when you send in your final bill with the old carrier, they'll send you a prepaid MasterCard for the amount within 8 weeks.

8 weeks? Isn't the final bill due a lot sooner than that?

Posted using Android Central App on my Samsung Galaxy S4 T-Mobile

Yes, they call it a reimbursement multiple times on the site. This leads me to believe you have to from the ETF and T-Mobile reimburses you with a MasterCard gift card

Posted via Android Central App

So I was wondering do you need to trade in your phone or is it just optional?

Edit: Just read up on it again and yeah you need to trade in the phone

Posted via Android Central App

In the article it states that "*If* you have an eligible phone, they will also give you some cash for it. Up to $300 cash."

Seems like that is completely optional...but I don't work work T-Mobile.

I think you have to turn your phone in. This is a way for them to recoup some of the costs associated with paying etf.

Posted via Android Central App

buy a cheap flip phone off of Craigslist and activities ate it as your main phone if you feel the need to maybe make some cash off of your old phone, ethical? well you can answer that yourself lol

Posted via Android Central App

If that's true, I wonder if they still force the buyback for a "non-eligible" phone. If not, just tell them your old phone is an old black-and-white Blackberry or something like that.

From my understanding it's not a promotion, it just the way the company is moving forward. It's something that is here to stay.

Posted via Android Central App

Seriously John looks like Hearth Ledger's Joker. Am I the only one seeing this?

Posted via Android Central App

So I just checked the trade in value on my HTC one 32GB and it's $122! Yea right! It's great there paying ETF but they are sticking it to you on the trade in values. Looks like there trying to pay what we paid to the carriers for our phones and then charging full price for the new T-Mobile replacement phone.

Dude, they are paying the ETF, and giving you a couple of dollars for your old phone. They are making it free to switch carriers.

Posted via Android Central App

If you're going to "correct" someone's grammar, you should probably make sure you yourself are correct... smh unreal.

Posted via Android Central App

It is a rip off. No one leaves owing the full $350 ETF, so chances are someone is 6, 12, 18 months into their existing contract and wants to leave. If that's the case they will only be paying maybe $100-$250 ETF, plus the $122 for the HTC One. That's a $225-$400 credit when you could turn around and sell the phone on your own for more than that.

I've already decided my next phone will be a Nexus, which means I'll have to say goodbye to Verizon. We've had a love/hate relationship for years, but I'm finally getting sick of high costs and locked bootloaders.

I was planning on riding out my current contract, but this is making me consider picking up an N5 right now instead of waiting...

I read the website and it said that all lines activated must be of the same area code. Does this apply to major metropolitan areas with area code splits even though the region is the same?

Also... I wonder if it would be possible to swap the phone you would trade in to a junky old phone. That way you could keep your smartphone and still get the ETF reimbursed through the final bill submission.

Posted via Android Central App

The "junky old phone" would have to be eligible, I think.

Posted from my "Gift from God" Nexus 5, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

I'm probably ineligible. I have a three phone plan with my family. Only one phone (the Droid DNA) is a smartphone, and the other two are crappy flip phones with zero value. I doubt T-Mobile will let me trade in those flip phones to pay off the ETF :(

They'll pay the EFT no matter what phone you have. The $300 credit towards another phone you will not get. maybe you'll get $1. I'm only getting $2 for a EVO3D. I actually wonder what phone gets $300 credit

No f**king way. Well it actually makes sense, iPhone have the highest aftermarket value.

Posted from my Nexus 7(2013).

Sprint you are soo lucky that i cant do this now because i want the 32GB nexus 5 but as soon as i have the money saved im switching to t-mobile

You have to buy the phone from T-MO not bring your own so therefore you can only get the 16Gb N5.

Nowhere on T-Mo's page does it say you have to buy the phone from them. T-Mo has been BYOP friendly for quite some time now.

So if you have an unlocked phone say N5 and have 9 months left on contract, then are you out of luck? I see people saying you don't need to trade a phone in and i see that you do need to trade a phone and buy one from them.

Posted via Android Central App

My question is if I have a balance on my current carrier can I end my service and do payment plans till the remaining balance is paid off or will they not let me do etc until balance is caught up to current month?

Posted via Android Central App

(disclaimer: I can't speak for Verizon or ATT, as I'm not familiar with their policies)

You can certainly cancel your service if you have a balance. Payment arrangements can be tricky, but they'll probably try to work with you as long as you have realistic expectations and don't have to keep pushing the arrangement out further. It's not like they can really suspend your service for non-payment if you already cancelled... but they can refer the debt to an OCA (outside collection agency), which would be a ding on your credit report.

I'm wondering, does the new account have to be under the same name as my old account? Say for example, I have AT&T. I port my numbers over, but the account will be under my girlfriend's name. Will we still get the ETF's paid?

Darn... Just switched, but bringing my own phones (nexus 4 and 5). Would have been nice to get some ETF money for at&t. Oh well...

Posted via Android Central App

I wonder if it's a credit you can use to pay your bill. If you got $600 bucks you'd get 6 months of free cell service as well as have Tmo pay your first 6 installment payments on your new new device.

They've already specified that you get UP TO 300 for trading in your phone. (ex. an iphone 5 is 218) and when you send them a copy of your final bill from your ex carrier, they'll send a prepaid mastercard with $350 PER line

Competition needs to level out in this this country, so anyone who leaves ATT or Vzn for T-Mobile would be good. I really don't like that 2 companies control over 2/3 of the entire U.S. market, it's really bad for the consumer.

Posted using Android Central App on my Samsung Galaxy S4 T-Mobile

I've been planning my switch from AT&T to T-Mobile for about six months now. I have five lines with different end dates. This should help me switch earlier. Nothing bad to say about AT&T just would like to save some money. Paying $270/month.

Yes, and no. T-Mobile does not sell the Moto X directly, but you can guy it from the Motomaker site. The beauty is the T-Mobile version of the X is completely carrier unlocked. Bought one for my wife and she is using it just fine on AT&T.

EDIT: It also doesn't have any carrier added bloatware. The downside to that is it doesn't support wifi calling like many of the phones purchased from T-Mobile would.

Try to think of it like the ETF is in one way or another the remaining amount of money you owe on the phone, because you purchased it subsidized, which is why they make you sign a contract, so they can guarantee they will recoup the full cost of the phone.

The amount per month that you are paying just for the phone (not the service) is basically already baked into your rate plan. But that's why you might notice your etf goes down as time goes by.

So they aren't offering you $100 for a phone that is worth 5-600. They are offering you $350+100.. Which makes more sense and is more reasonable.

That being said, people who are within 6-12 months months of their contract ending should probably just wait it out.

Posted via Android Central App

Part of reason is because it's sprint but the other reason is that trade values really suck. You have to remember that they are going to make money off those phones.

Posted via Android Central App

That's not a great offer. Sprint buyback for that phone (regardless of carrier) is $215. I'm guessing T-Mo had to decrease their buyback offers to make up for the ETF thing.

I was all about this deal until I checked the Sensorly map around me for T-Mobile. Their coverage is horrible, as in I would have to hit a main road simply to receive even 3G service. Perhaps it is no wonder why T-Mobile's network is junk in large portions of their footprint, now they will be paying customers hundreds of dollars to switch to their junk, oh well, as long as Wall Street pleased, nothing else matters.

Posted via Android Central App

Can we discuss your over utilization of the word troll, Sir Herpaderp Smart Pants. Since when did you become part of the Android Central Troll Police Patrol? Also, do you recall what the pot called the kettle?

Posted via Android Central App

How the hell is he trolling, dipshit?! I'm in the same boat as him. Was strongly considering moving from Verizon to T-Mobile until I looked at the coverage map in my area and noticed it's freaking garbage! Voicing valid concerns while providing valid facts to back them up is not considered trolling... it is what it is. They need to beef up their network before I'll switch from Verizon.

Posted via Android Central App

You should probably ask people in your area. But if LTE or HSPA simply isn't in your area then don't switch. But if it's supposed to be, ask people around your area if they have T-Mobile and ask how the coverage is. Have them run the speed test app if they have it. Blah blah blah

Posted via Android Central App

The sensorly map is pretty spot on where I live. Major city, state capital, no coverage 10 feet off of any highway.

Been that way for over 4 years now.

The sensorly maps show my area as having no coverage, but it's actually pretty good - LTE most places I've gone. If the maps are inaccurate in your area, please install the sensorly app and map trips with it as you go around town.

According to their map I don't have LTE at home, but I do, and its damn fast.

Posted via Android Central App

I definitely get where your coming from. It took 3 years of looking at those maps slowly improve before I finally made the jump. Oh and also my Sprint data was almost unusable over 85% of the time.

Posted via Android Central App

Yeah, this deal is amazing for some folks, but the coverage that I see may not be ideal for me at all. I will be checking around, no doubt about it.

Aww would you believe it? It would be almost exactly the same for my wife and i to switch, if we got G2's or something like that, will just wait until contract runs out then go tmo.

Does this mean the consumer has to front the ETF until T-Mobile is able to get the prepaid cards out. Which takes up to 8 weeks. The old carrier will want the ETF sooner than 8 weeks

Posted via Android Central App

Wait so even if you aren't signing up for a contract they still do a credit check?
Asking because of this statement on their site
"You would need to trade-in a working mobile phone or tablet and purchase a new device with T-Mobile on a qualifying postpaid Simple Choice plan (you would not be able to sign up for a T-Mobile prepaid or Simple Choice Family Plan with no credit check). All lines must be activated in the same T-Mobile market with the same billing address and area code."

I believe the credit check is because they are giving you an expensive phone for $0 down. So its a 0% interest loan essentially. That would be the reason for a credit check if I had to guess.

Posted via Android Central App

Its a postpaid plan meaning you are billed. Of course they need your credit involved, how else are they going to trust you are going to pay the bills.

Posted via Android Central App

I want to take this offer and move from Sprint, however, I just priced it out and T-Mobile is more expensive than like-for-like plans?

Is that possible? (4 lines, Unlimited w/4 smartphones) Is Sprint still the cheapest option for unlimited family plans?

(No trolling, I want to know what I priced wrong!)

I would switch from Vz too but the monthly savings just aren't there. I have a four line family plan and pay $240 before tax. Same plan on tmo will cost about $280...

Posted via Android Central App

Yeah, that's including your phone loans though. A T-Mobile plan with unlimited everything on 4 lines would be $180.

Posted via Android Central App

Right, so if I bring my own phones with, its $180.00. There's no old school subsidized option on T-Mobile correct? (Not a bad thing at all, just trying to figure initial switch costs.)

I went to to T-Mobile.com and built a family plan with 4 lines and unlimited everything BC I thought $280 sounded high. Its $70 for the first line, $50 for line 2, and $30 for line 3 and 4.

Posted via Android Central App

Maybe you were assuming that because the first line was $70 that they were all $70? The primary line on a family plan is always higher.

Posted via Android Central App

Yeah, I was mistaken when I said it would be $280. Without buying the phones from tmo, it is $180 but if I am to get phones too, it will be $290 before tax (two note 3 and two sg4)

Posted via Android Central App

I'd save $44 per month over Verizon, including the phone costs (for Nexus 5s). I live in a TMo 4G LTE zone too, so I am giving this some serious consideration. If Verizon gave me a 15% discount like they do corporate customers, I wouldn't even consider it, but $528/year is nothing to sneeze at.

Well, I put this to the test, the real test. I called AT&T. I have 4 mos left on my ETF ($125.00). I told them there was a new day dawning. I asked them to wave the ETF and sign me up for a $40.00 Go Phone. You know what... they did. And, they were very pleasant about it. So, John Legere saved me about $325.00 bucks today. Thanks John, see you in about 4 weeks. ;-)

So in ordered to qualify for the ETF being paid my tmo, you have to trade in your current phone. I thought it was optional but apparently its not. I have to find a used sprint phone that works because it doesn't make sense for me to trade in my nexus 5(32gb) when they don't even offer that haha. Else i have about 5 months left with poor ol sprint -_-

Make sure you guys remember to thank AT&T for that failed acquisition money.
T-Mobile wouldn't be able to upgrade shit or pay for these ETF plans had it not been for AT&T.

totally got rid of verizon...welcome to t-mobile. the speedtest today went from about 3-4 mbps to 24-25 mbps here in the house. not bad at all ended up with them owing me about 300$ after all the trade in's etc.
i'm happy happy happy.

I do want to switch carriers to save some money but I'm not gonna jump ship until I ask people around my area how the coverage is.

in regards to my ETF I ported my number and phone from sprint to t-mobile. I didn't know a visa card would be issued. I combined accounts with a now ex girlfriend. I submitted all the paper work and was approved to receive my ETF so I can pay off sprint. Me and ex girlfriend resided in the same home and for some reason tmobile issued my ETF in her name when clearly if you check the paper work she was not on my sprint account. I'm certain that when she received the card she will not forward it over to me. At the time I was the primary account holder but she went in and because it was her ss# was able to remove me completely from the account. I just want my ETF card so I can pay off sprint. So if possible can you reroute the card to another address or just send the payment directly to sprint. I think it's unfair for her to be able to just take what's legally mines and use it for her personal needs. Tmobile should issue the cards to the person who submitted the paper work for its they're previous account that's in jeopardy.

Okay so i have a question. I currently have a sptint netwotk and am looking to switch but i have a past due balance on my phone. Will i still be able to switch?