T-Mobile will pay you to break up with your carrier

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Following a leaky and occasional drama-filled lead-up , T-Mobile finally unveiled the latest chapter in its Uncarrier initiative. Today the company announced it will pay customers to break their current carrier contracts with their current carriers and switch over to Team Magenta.

Customers can earn a total of up to $650 per line to switch, for up to five lines. The credit is meant to counter the early termination fees (ETFs) levied by carriers against customers who break their service contracts.

Starting tomorrow, customers of Verizon, Sprint, or AT&T who hand in their eligible devices at any participating T-Mobile location and switch will receive an instant credit of up to $300 per device based on the value of their phone.

After customers receive the final bill from their old carrier, which includes the early termination fees, they either mail it to T-Mobile or upload to switch2tmobile.com. T-Mobile will then send an additional payment equal to those ETF fees, up to $350 per line.

In order to qualify, users must trade-in of their old phone and purchase a new T-Mobile phone.

Customers who step out of a two-year plan on AT&T can face an ETF of $325 minus $10/month for each full month of completed service. ETFs on Verizon and Sprint are both $350 minus $10/month.

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For the record, T-Mobile's most recent T&C agreement still includes an ETF for legacy plans, however the company announced that existing customers will be able migrate out of legacy plans into contract-free Simple Choice plans, penalty free.

The Empire struck first

If this pay-to-switch strategy sounds at all familiar, it should. Last week AT&T launched a limited promotion in which the company which would pay T-Mobile customers— and only T-Mobile customers —up to $450 to switch to the company's Mobile Share Value program.

AT&T's move was almost certainly a preliminary first strike in anticipation of T-Mobile's moves, which have been hyped by CEO John Legere.

While a multibillion-dollar company should be able to easily brush off the 140-character taunts of a rival CEO, T-Mo's Uncarrier initiatives, which have been slowly rolled out over the past year, have paid off big-time for a company once mired in the basement of big national carriers.

According to data from Kantar Worldpanel, T-Mobile has nearly doubled its share of the smartphone market from Q3 2012 to Q3 2013, eclipsing Sprint in the process. AT&T for its part has lost nearly 10% of market share in the same time period, falling behind Verizon.

It's not business, it's just personal

Legere—hands-down the most entertaining and profanity-prone CEO around today—has made AT&T the main object of his ridicule. In a fit of PR-seeking, or refreshing independence, Legere recently crashed a CES function held by AT&T and was promptly escorted out.

While Legere claims he was there just to see guest entertainer Macklemore perform, security staff said AT&T representatives told them to remove Legere because he was "harassing" attendees at the party.

It certainly gave Legere free publicity. 

This story, "T-Mobile will pay you to break up with your carrier" was originally published by TechHive.

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