John Legere doesn't need to swear or sling insults to earn credibility as a renegade in the stodgy world of wireless carriers. By slashing prices, adding benefits like data rollover, and moving away from subsidizing phones, the T-Mobile chief unleashed an era of competition that's benefited the customers of every carrier.
Except for free messaging and an hour of full access on planes with Gogo Wi-Fi service, Un-carrier 11, T-Mobile's newest bundle of benefits, doesn't have much to do with wireless service. Its features include a share of T-Mobile stock for each customer (and the ability to earn more through referrals), plus a series of freebies including Domino's pizza, Wendy's Frosty drinks, movie tickets, and more.
The lack of direct relationship with the company's core services made me wonder if the company is running out of industry-changing ideas. But T-Mobile COO Mike Sievert argues that the company is trying to shake up how companies reward their customers. "Maybe someday I'll give you something," he says. "That's the way loyalty programs roll." Instead of forcing anyone to accumulate points, T-Mobile is offering immediate, no-strings freebies—more than $31 worth in the initial week, which is more than an average customer pays the company for service.
And for those of us who wonder if free junk food is a sign that T-Mobile has hit a wall when it comes to more fundamental business-model innovations, Sievert says not to worry. "You'll just have to wait and see Un-carrier 12 for the proof," he told me.