11/27/2008 11:56:00 AM
T-Mobile’s contract customers must pay £75 to upgrade
T-Mobile’s contract customers must pay £75 to upgrade their handsets in a new scheme designed to stall upgrades and save cash until the new financial year.
For those not wishing to shell out, T-Mobile is offering customers a £5-per-month discount in what is being labelled a ‘Christmas loyalty bonus’.
The inability for customers to upgrade their handset for free has prompted many independent retailers to churn them onto other networks and even, in some cases, churn them off T-Mobile, only to sign them back on as a new customer – a tactic that actually costs T-Mobile more money than a conventional upgrade.
The £75 fee even extends to T-Mobile’s direct channels, but staff at the retailer’s stores said they could use the retention team to negotiate a free upgrade over the phone in exceptional circumstances. T-Mobile will also try and wean the customer onto the Google G1 phone, which is exempt from the restrictions.
T-Mobile staffers have said, as a result of the £75 charge, most customers choose not to upgrade and have money off their contract instead.
T-Mobile said: ‘We believe that, in the current economic climate, most customers will welcome the opportunity to make savings on their monthly bills. All customers retain the choice to upgrade their handsets during Q4, but following a review of the eligibility criteria for mobile phone upgrades, some customers will be subject to reduced entitlements.’
Independents have criticised the Christmas loyalty bonus, saying that without the flexibility afforded to direct retail staff it is hard to retain customers.
Mobile reported earlier this month that T-Mobile and O2 were both pushing customer handset upgrades into
the new financial year in an attempt to tighten their purse strings.
O2 claimed its £15-per-month discount to delay upgrades was purely an offer to ‘help customers’ through the challenging economic period, but would not comment on whether the deal would remain in the New Year.