If this whole wireless executive thing doesn’t work out, T-Mobile USA CEO John Legere may have a future in late-night television.
Legere lambasted T-Mobile’s wireless rivals, and called out the press for playing along, prior to introducing the company’s new no-contract rate plans and phone pricing — and its long-awaited launch of the iPhone 5 — at a news conference in New York this morning.
Here’s an extended excerpt from Legere’s opening monologue.
I got up this morning and I have to tell you, there’s just some things that are driving me crazy, even today as you all have pre-reported. By the way, for those of you with ADD, if you want to see what I’m going to be talking about in 5 minutes, TMo News is on the phone with an employee right now breaking my chart two charts from now. David, he’s not here today, but he’ll be sneaking from the employees in the back and posting online. So you can all take the high ground. You can just change your story to, “As reported in TMo News.”
I don’t know if Brian is here from the New York Times, but Brian, we have to talk. I don’t know who writes the gadget column, but this is a perfect conversation for us to have. There was an article this morning, and what the article said is this: T-Mobile is moving 100 percent to (no) contract. So they’re moving completely into the prepaid business. And, they’re going to charge you up front for the devices. Therefore, let’s check out their competition. Since they’re now a prepaid player, let’s compare them to Boost.
Guys! We’ve got to break this down, because something is going on. Either it’s not that complicated, or it’s very complicated or there’s a mass conspiracy going on. I don’t care what it is, but we’re going to keep hammering. Now, I’ve been here six months. When I first got here, non-stop, and some of you, the analysts were writing, oh, but John has no wireless industry experience. I’ve been at this business for about 33 years, but I don’t have wireless industry experience. After a while, I went home, and I said to myself, “Holy shit, I don’t have wireless industry experience! What am I going to do?”
I started questioning myself, my confidence was very low — you must have missed me that day — and I started wondering, “What the hell does this mean?” And it suddenly dawned on me: There’s not a goddamned person in the world besides a wireless industry person that would understand why the hell this mess works this way! And the worst fear of the wireless industry is that somebody from outside Oz comes in and starts looking at their industry. … It doesn’t make sense.
Let me tell you what my experience is: I’m a customer, just like you. So let me tell you about my experience, and why the industry is broken and what we’re going to do to fix it. Here’s what I experienced. Phone purchases. Unbelievable high prices. How the hell can that cost that much, unless you’re going to drive it? Or fake, scary low prices. Woah! You can get that for $19? That’s unbelievable! But unbelievably huge real prices.
We’re going to talk about this today, but please, stop the bullshit. (Sorry, I promised myself I wasn’t going to swear today. Elizabeth, wherever you are, your father didn’t mean that, it was on the monitor.) It’s crazy! I’m going to point out in a little bit, for those of you that really believe that T-Mobile is charging full prices, it’s $1,000 less for a T-Mobile high-end device over two years than AT&T. And the best part is that we’re going to show you how. So that’s phone prices.
Second, complicated rate plans. I’m telling you. First of all, when you go into the store, and you pick out the great device, and you’ve got it and you’re playing with it, and then they roll you over to — and we do this, too — to the rate plans. By the way, you don’t want one! You want the phone! You have to have the rate plan, you have to sign with the carrier, because guess what? That’s how you get the phone. Now, these rate plans are so complicated they make no sense. Guess why? It’s on purpose! We don’t want you to see.
Now, for those of you who track earnings and profitability, selling this way and handling customer care is really complicated. The rate card is 27 pages, and then when somebody calls into the care group, the people need to understand this — not only would this be a good thing to do away with for you, but it’s good from a standpoint of customer care, service, etc.
Next, my experience, contracts. … You have to. Nobody wants to, you have to. And when you sign that contract, you’re locked into the rate plan and that phone. By the way, that phone that seems so beautiful when you walk in the store, how long until it’s a dinosaur?
I’ll tell you an interesting thing. I don’t know if you’ve experienced this. Carriers are really nice to you once every 23 months. the day you go into that store, they love you. “Woah, you’ve gotta have this phone, we’re going to be so good to you, here’s a free t-shirt, some balloons, by the way, need a back rub?” Maybe that’s just me. And then you go out the door. And you get home, and your contract doesn’t make any sense, and you call care, and it’s horrible. And then after about 23 months, you go on to the list. “Hey, better get Billy, because he’s going to go off next month,” and then all of a sudden they roll out the carpet. I hate this. This is just terrible. You should have to earn business every single day. …
What I’ve been doing — it’s a sad state of my life — is almost every night, a little bit less now but especially when I got here, I spent about an hour at night listening to customer care, and anybody that complains, the emails come to me. So for several months, I kept hearing, “I have to wait how long to upgrade?” … The best one is, people are saying, “I don’t get it. I must have paid this phone off by now. How come my bill hasn’t come down.” So we were in violent agreement, and the best part is, inside T-Mobile, the employees were in violent agreement, and all this stuff that we’re rolling out now, they had. Andrew Sherrard is one of the senior marketing people in the company. He doesn’t get enough credit. … The T-Mobile employees, they knew the answers, they were dying to roll this thing out. So this is also great for our company.
End of this piece: The industry is broken, you know the villains — long-term contracts, overages, penalties, termination fees, throttled data, and by the way, no rewards for loyalty. …
I tested the Un-Carrier with all of you, and in Las Vegas I announced the move to 100% value plans, but I didn’t say when. The when? Now. Right now, 100% value plans. Why? Visibility, transparency, standardized pricing, lowest out-of-the-door price. Bring your own device.
Now, what did the industry say? And some of you were reporting this for them. T-Mobile is moving from subsidized phones. This is the biggest crock of shit I’ve ever heard in my life! Do you have any idea how much you’re paying? As you can see, my challenge is going to be that I’m going to explain how stupid we all are, but not make us feel bad, because once it becomes flat and transparent, there’s nowhere to hide.