T-Mobile chief executive John Legere says he will give away a share in the company to every account holder with a voice plan, a deal that’s also good for new customers. Those who have been T-Mobile customers for at least five years will also get two shares for every new customer they refer. T-Mobile says it has more than 30 million postpaid phone customers. The stock is currently trading at $43.07 per share, which would value the promotion at $1.3 billion if every customer takes Legere up on his offer.
According to Wired, which says Legere “has rarely met a marketing stunt he doesn’t like,” the ploy “could help keep customers loyal.” The announcement has not yet had an impact on T-Mobile’s stock prices.
Customers, who have 15 days to claim their shares, must download the T-Mobile Tuesdays app and create, for free, an account with Loyal3 online stock brokerage firm, which will not charge brokerage fees for 12 months. After that period, Loyal3 can charge a fee for selling the stock.
Under the promotion “Uncarrier,” T-Mobile is also handing out pizzas, movie tickets, a free hour of Gogo Wi-Fi on every flight and other goodies, all less controversial than its offer, in 2014, to allow customers to stream music without it counting against their data limits. Known as “zero rating,” the practice started off with Spotify and Apple Music and then expanded last year to include Netflix and HBO.
What T-Mobile didn’t initially tell customers was that, “it would slow connections to all video content as long as the ‘Binge On’ option is enabled.” Many believe zero-rating violates net neutrality, which requires that all Internet traffic be treated the same, and the FCC has reserved the right to revisit zero rating on a case-by-case basis.
T-Mobile’s parent company Deutsche Telekom has “reportedly put plans to sell T-Mobile on hold while the FCC auctions off wireless spectrum,” but it has been trying to sell the company since at least 2011, when the Justice Department prevented a deal with AT&T from going through. By the end of last year, T-Mobile “had fewer than half as many wireless subscribers as AT&T or Verizon,” but it is growing rapidly now, perhaps in part due to the current promotions.