John Legere: He’s uncarrier but is he uncaring?

In just seventeen months as T-Mobile CEO, John Legere has seen his “Uncarrier” strategy add 4.4 million subscribers.

Uncarrier is an awkward name for a carrier who does not behave like one.  So if you’re on T-Mobile, you won’t have a contract, you’ll have cheaper bills because there are no more built-in phone subsidies, upgrades are less restrictive and more affordable, they’ll unlock your phone with less hassle, and you’ll even get (quite slow) unlimited global roaming.  And if you’re not on T-Mo, then John will pay you to switch from another carrier.

It all sounds wonderful and I suppose it is. Before Legere, we were politely treated like schmucks by everybody.  Once T-Mo started giving customers more freedom, the other carriers reluctantly joined in.

But that’s well documented. And it’s not hard to document it because Mr Legere is an extremely active tweeter, frequently calling out his peer at AT&T Randall Stephenson and pulling off a PR masterstroke by getting thrown out of an AT&T party, gaining national headlines in the process. Legere loves to re-tweet T-Mobile love-ins from customers and admirers, as well as re-tweet his own employees who have been encouraged to take in-store photographs with happy customers who have dropped their wireless carrier to join the Magenta Revolution.

But like any good marketeer, Legere will deflect the not-so-good things.  For example, he was noticeably quiet last week about announced changes to the early-upgrade program, Jump!. He’s usually all over Twitter, kicking metaphorical sand in the faces of his lame competitors. But John knows it’s not as good a deal as it was so he knows when to keep schtum. You also won’t see him go head-to-head with the elephant in the room.

John hasn’t made friends with everybody though. T-Mobile have been doing their best to rid themselves of Blackberry for a while. It’s probably no surprise since interest in their phones have been waning for years now. But while other carriers still give their customers the choice of trying out and buying a Blackberry phone in-store if they wish, T-Mobile have taken deliberate steps to sideline the company’s product.

Speaking as someone who flips phones twice a year, I tend to jump (pun probably intended) between Android and Blackberry every year.  Over the last two and a half years I’ve gone from the first Galaxy Note to the Blackberry Bold 9900 to the Galaxy S3 to the Blackberry Z10 and to the Galaxy Note 3. I’ve even used Apple and Windows Phone. I’m fairly agnostic.

Since I’m on the Jump program – perfect for someone like me – I was all set to pick up the Blackberry Z30 T-Mo Upgradeas my next phone in April.  The problem?  T-Mobile don’t carry it. And they won’t carry it. The demand for the phone has led to a petition and a campaign directly addressed to John Legere.

But T-Mo even went further than sidelining and ignoring their Blackberry users – they started trolling them.

Now you can call Blackberry users sensitive if you like. But the bottom line is that these are Legere’s customers, they pay money for their phones and their service and they are all still waiting for T-Mo to issue a software update that even Verizon began rolling out. 

Legere’s response?  Well, promising actually.

But what did it amount to? Nothing. A wishy-washy, say-nothing cop-out that patronized Blackberry users by telling them they did not have to give up their devices. Bless them.

Legere is absolutely entitled to say we won’t sell any more Blackberry phones. But the problem is, he won’t say it. He won’t explain where the 10.2.1 update is, why he can’t find shelf space for Blackberry and he won’t clearly state “we will not carry the Z30 – please go to Verizon if you want it”.

People like Legere are a breath of fresh air but it doesn’t take much for someone who is so “out there” to fall out of favour.  The changes to Jump, this ridiculous press release and his alienating of a small but enthusiastic paying user base, may suggest that the honeymoon period is coming to a close.  For Legere perhaps he feels he is near the end anyway if Sprint end up buying T-Mo. I think that would be job done.


The Adventures of Morten Harket (not that one): Part 7

Part 1 – I’ve Been Losing You / Part 2 – The Blood That Moves the Body / Part 3 – The Sun Never Shone That Day / Part 4 – Sycamore Leaves / Part 5 – Shapes That Go Together / Part 6 – Lie Down in Darkness


“Can I have four pints plea…” Morten Harket started to ask the barman.
“A pint of what?”

Morten surveyed the change in the palm of his hand. “Actually make that two pints and two glasses of beer please.”Image

Morten returned to the table where his wife and two friends, Vicki and Larry Nail, were seated. He handed the pints to Vicki and Larry.
“I haven’t been to a karaoke night in about 10 years,” Vicki giggled. “Do you remember the last time we were at karaoke, Lar? Remember?” She nudged her husband in the ribs.
“No! What happened?” he asked, rubbing his torso.
“Remember after…?” She winked knowingly at him and rolled her tongue appealingly.
“I’ve never been to karaoke with you,” he said, looking blankly.
“Oh. Um, well, that might have been someone else…”

“Eh, so,” Mrs Harket interrupted right on cue, “what do you think you’re going to do tonight?”
“I fancy doing a bit of Whitesnake,” Vicki laughed. “If you know what I mean.” She winked and clucked at Mrs Harket.
“You like Whitesnake?” Morten asked, looking slightly bemused.
“I think she’s being suggestive,” Larry said, diverting his eyes downwards.


“Oh, right!” Morten exclaimed. “Right! Snake! Yes…ummm…What about you Larry?”
“I fancy doing the Spice Girls.”
“I bet you do,” Vicki giggled, nudging him in the sensitive rib area again. “One at a time!”
“No, I mean I’d like to do ‘Viva Forever’. It’s a timeless ballad about love and hope.”

“Now you haven’t put my name forward, right?” Morten asked.
“Uh, no!” Vicki said, nudging her husband in the ribs again.
“Will you stop!?”

“Ok, ladies and gentlemen,” the MC announced from the stage, “it’s time to get our first performer up!”

The 40 or so people in the pub gave a half-hearted reception preferring in the early hours of the night to drink as fast as they could.

“Our first name is … Martin Hairnet!”

Morten sat unmoved.

“Martin Hairnet!”

He turned slowly to the MC. “God, no.”
“Is that you Martin?”
“Uh, not quite…”
“Get up here! Come on folks! Big cheer for Martin Hairnet!”

A handful of the gathered drinkers put their hands together slowly as Martin, um, Morten made his way on to the stage.

“It’s Morten,” he muttered to the MC.
“Sorry, Morten Hairnet!”
“No, Morten Harket.”
“Sorry, Morten Hark…” He looked curiously at Morten.
“Morten Harket?” You’re not Morten Harket!”
“Well I get what you’re saying and you’re right. But at the same time you’re wrong because I am. I’m just not that one.”

The MC nodded slowly before swinging around to face the expanding crowd.
“Do you want to hear Morten Harket sing one of his own songs?”
“No!” Morten shouted, seemingly at the wall.
“Would you like to hear Morten Harket’s beautiful Greek dulcet tones!?”
“They’re Norwegian! Although I’m not Norwegian! They are! Although I’m not him!”
Mrs Harket put her head in her hands as Vicki nudged Larry in the ribs.

“Alright, here’s one for you guys.” The MC whispered to the DJ and a few seconds later “Analogue” by a-ha blasted out over the speakers.

“Come back my darling one,” Morten sung awkwardly, “I’m calling on you.”

“He hasn’t got a note in his head,” Vicki observed.
“At least he has a brain,” muttered Mrs Harket under her breath, thinking that she’d love to throw her glass of beer over Vicki if she weren’t so broke.

“All that I need is the time to show you how I feeeeeeel,” Morten screeched, sending several revellers to the bathroom.

“Ok, ok, stop,” the MC cut across as the music faded out.
“What?” Morten asked.
“You’re awful!”
“It’s karaoke! I’m not Elton John.”
“No, you’re Morten Harket.”
“I’m not, well, I am. But I’m not him.”

“Look,” the MC said, “‘Analogue’ was a terrific modern chart single. I mean a-ha came from nowhere to record their first top 10 hit in 18 years and you’ve just murdered it.”
“It’s still alive.”
“Just about. I mean I’d happily give that song 9/10, that’s how good it is. While the chorus may not be as strong as the verse and bridge, the middle instrumental or powerful closing bars, the song still gets inside your head. The only thing about that performance that gets inside my head is a noise!”
“What is this?” Morten asked. “An audition?”

“You probably don’t even know the original version of the song, ‘Minor Key Sonata’. That was due to be a single before Max Martin was brought in to co-write the new version you’ve just butchered. That song had it’s moments but was just not as catchy. The mid-section was furiously cute but overall it comes up a few notches short at 7/10.”

“I’ll get my coat,” Morten said as he did the walk of shame off to stage to virtual silence.
“Yeah, and don’t come back you butchering monster! Morten Harket, my arse!”

Vicki nudged Larry in the ribs again.

Morten turned the key in his front door where he wasn’t met by his expectant wife as she was already with him. He closed it behind them.

“I guess that’s the a-ha curse in action,” she said with a grimace.

“Yes,” he replied, tightening the hinge on the battered front door to ensure it at least stayed up another night.

“Never mind, darling,” she said, embracing him. “Maybe we’ll be able to get singing lessons for you so you won’t stink out the place next time.”

He looked at her. “All I want you to know is that I love you,” he said, smiling.

She smiled back, winked, walked halfway up the stairs before turning back to Morten in the hall.

“Come on! It’s ‘adult time’!”
“Oh, sorry!” he said, scurrying up the stairs behind her.