T-Mobile Offers BlackBerry Users $250 to Upgrade to Z10, Q10

T-Mobile, responding to BlackBerry users who love their phones, is offering them cash to upgrade: $200 to any phone, $250 to a newer BlackBerry.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere said the company was working on something special for BlackBerry users—a mea culpa of sorts—after BlackBerry owners made clear they were offended by a T-Mobile offer to upgrade to the iPhone 5S.

Using a BlackBerry was an intelligent choice they had made, not a situation they were stuck in, folks made clear on Twitter, using the hashtag #ichooseBlackBerry10.

Beginning Feb. 21, the carrier will begin making good on its word.

"Wow. Mind blown. The passion we've seen from the BlackBerry Loyal over the past couple days has been pretty amazing. I want you to know we've heard you," T-Mobile Chief Marketing Officer Mike Sievert wrote in a Feb. 19 blog post.

"We've been working overtime here to find the best possible way to show BlackBerry users exactly how much we appreciate and respect your passion for and loyalty to T-Mobile and to BlackBerry," Sievert continued.

He then announced that beginning Friday, T-Mobile will (for a limited time) offer BlackBerry users a $200 credit toward a new device—any new device. Additionally, for those who choose to upgrade to a BlackBerry Q10 or Z10, T-Mobile will knock an additional $50 off the purchase price.

"That's a total of $250 toward a beautiful new BlackBerry Q10 or Z10 or $200 toward any other device," wrote Sievert. (BlackBerry introduced both phones more than a year ago.)

T-Mobile is also offering free, expedited shipping of BlackBerry smartphones, which it doesn't stock in many stores.

While T-Mobile reacted quickly, and some might say respectfully, in quickly acknowledging that it was hearing subscribers' complaints about an offer they found insensitive, there was no outright apology, and the carrier even pushed back against BlackBerry CEO John Chen.

In a Feb. 18 blog post, Chen called the T-Mobile offer "clearly inappropriate and ill-conceived."

Directing comments to T-Mobile, Chen concluded, "I would like to remind you that our long-standing partnership was once productive and profitable for both BlackBerry and T-Mobile. I hope we can find a way forward that allows us to serve our shared customers once again. Notwithstanding the current challenge, we remain very excited about BlackBerry's future."

Sievert, in his post, suggested T-Mobile has no loyalties to BlackBerry, only subscribers. And that by objecting to BlackBerry users being targeted with an iPhone promotion, Chen was trying to limit them.

"Yesterday BlackBerry CEO John Chen posted a blog criticizing T-Mobile's marketing to BlackBerry users," wrote Sievert.

"The premise of his article was that it's best for customers if we restrict the free flow of information and limit customer choice," Sievert continued. "At T-Mobile, we reject that premise. We believe the best wireless service gives customers complete freedom and choice, and that's what we are doing with a new offer for BlackBerry users we are announcing today."

BlackBerry declined a request for further comment.

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