In its most recent television commercials, Verizon (NYSE:VZ) has used the hashtag #neversettle as the kicker to the ads that detail the terrible things that happen to people when they don't have Verizon service. The company never names a specific competitor or provides any real details. It just heavily implies that it's better than its competitors.
T-Mobile (NASDAQ:TMUS), which under CEO John Legere has never backed down from a challenge, has taken Verizon up on its offer after a fashion and created its own "Never Settle" program.
What: T-Mobile has introduced the Never Settle Trial, a program specifically for Verizon customers that allows them to try the "Un-carrier" for two weeks free of charge. The company explained the offer in a press release:
With the Never Settle Trial, Verizon customers port their number to a new T-Mobile smartphone and hold on to their old Verizon phone, just in case. After the trial, if they love the service and want to join the millions switching to the Un-carrier, T-Mobile will pay off any of Verizon's Early Termination Fees (ETFs) up to $650 or outstanding device payments when they trade in their phone and get a new one with T-Mobile's wildly popular Simple Choice plan. If it doesn't work out, the customer just hands in their T-Mobile phone within 14 days, and the Un-carrier will refund any trial costs from using T-Mobile ... and any service costs for starting back up with Verizon, like activation or other related fees Verizon regularly charges.
The new program begins May 13 and Verizon customers can sign up through May 31.
So what: The Verizon ads contain exactly the type of unsubstantiated claim that tends to set Legere off. Yes, Verizon does have the best network, according to the RootMetrics's second half of 2014 survey, but it's not by a wide margin. That makes the vague claims the company makes in its ads dubious and the T-Mobile CEO clearly wants to hold his rival accountable.
"Last week, I said we would hit right back at Verizon -- I meant it," said Legere in today's press release. "T-Mobile's 4G LTE network is the nation's fastest. Not faster for the price ... just faster, period. With T-Mobile, you don't have to settle for trickery, gimmicks and carrier BS the way you do with Verizon. I'm so confident in our kick-ass network experience that we're footing the bill so Verizon customers can give T-Mobile a try."
Now what: It's possible Verizon customers will give T-Mobile a try. Though Verizon does have a stronger network, the gap between it and its rivals has shrunk, and in some markets T-Mobile delivers a comparable experience.
Offering this trial gives T-Mobile a way to court wary customers -- people willing to pay Verizon more for a better network -- and give them a chance to see if their experience gets worse on the T-Mobile network. It's still a bit of a hassle, even if Legere's company has removed the financial risk, but it's an offer that makes sampling possible.
That should be good news for T-Mobile and costly, at least a little bit, for Verizon, which will be less able to scare customers with claims of how disastrous using another carrier will be when they have already tried one.