T-Mobile Leaves Business Customers Out Of Its Stock Giveaway Promotion

T-Mobile's vocal CEO, John Legere, is once again touting the telecom provider's "un-carrier" approach in the form of freebies. On Monday, T-Mobile announced it's giving postpaid customers a free share of company stock, but the promotion only applies to consumers, not business customers.

The Bellevue, Wash.-based company is also providing both prepaid and postpaid customers with weekly giveaways every Tuesday, which the provider is calling "T-Mobile Tuesdays." These freebies include free food from national franchises such as Domino's and Wendy's, free movie tickets and rentals from content provider Vudu, a free hour of in-flight Gogo WiFi on domestic flights, and additional weekly surprise giveaways that T-Mobile customers can access via the provider's new T-Mobile Tuesdays iOS and Android app.

A spokesperson for T-Mobile told CRN that business customers are not eligible for the free stock giveaway – the "Stock Up" promotion – but that those customers can still take advantage of T-Mobile Tuesday giveaways.

[Related: T-Mobile's Business Market Ambitions Prompting Potential Partners To Take A Look]

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While T-Mobile has a channel partner program that it launched in 2014, the carrier is largely consumer-centric, partners say.

"This promotion is a consumer-focused campaign. As a consumer, if you own a stock, you might feel more aligned with the company and less likely to churn. I think it's a brilliant marking strategy but it's not relevant to business customers, said Rob Chamberlin, co-founder and chief revenue officer for Berkeley, Calif.-based DataXoom, a T-Mobile partner.

According to T-Mobile's Legere, the recent string of new promotions -- both its stock offer and T-Mobile Tuesday freebies -- are about saying "thank you" to customers. Legere credited customers with helping the carrier double its size and giving incumbent carriers a run for their money in subscriber growth, an area in which T-Mobile has been beating its competition consistently during the last several fiscal quarters.

Via the latest promotion, each primary postpaid account holder will receive one share of T-Mobile stock, currently valued at $43.89. Customers that recommend T-Mobile are eligible for additional stock, with each new customer translating into one new share for the recommending customer, up to 100 shares a year, according to T-Mobile.

Consumers that want to take advantage of the stock offer must sign up for a brokerage account. The carrier also said there would be no fees for selling or transferring the share during the first year.

"I'm turning customers into owners," T-Mobile's Legere said during a live event Monday. He said T-Mobile's move is something that no publicly traded company has ever done.

But the stock giveaway wouldn't be a feasible option for most business customers, especially those whose wireless plans are paid by their employers, according to Natasha Royer Coons, managing director of TeraNova Consulting Group, a San Diego-based telecom expense and managed services provider of wireless solutions.

"Who would own the stock -- would it be IT, the C-level exec? It would probably have to go through a legal chain to see who would own the stock," she said.

The promotion could make sense for users who are responsible for paying their own cell phone bills, but receive discounts on their wireless plans from a specific carrier, she said.

While Legere has seen "entertaining" rants and observations in the media and on social media that have been well documented, the CEO has also made important moves in the telecom space, such as being the first carrier to end equipment subsidy plans, DataXoom's Chamberlin said. Competing carriers have since followed suit, dropping the popular two-year wireless contract model altogether.

"That was a major shift in the business," he said. "He's made some fairly impactful changes for the company so far."