The latest salvo in the AT&T and Verizon Cola Wars was for Big Blue to bribe all its users into staying with a surprise gift of 1000 bonus rollover minutes. Some users thought the text message announcing the free minutes was some kind of spam or scam – and who could blame them? – but it was definitely sent out by AT&T, as confirmed to Consumerist by AT&T PR. They said, “It’s real – we’ve done this before…it’s a way of thanking our customers.” If you didn’t get the text, some users, even those who weren’t targeted by the initial blast, have reported the free minutes showing up on their account after texting “yes” to 11113020.
So far in these Coke vs Pepsi wars, Big Red has come across as confident and self-assured, pleased with themselves for finally getting the iPhone, but not above a little eyebrow waggling and elbow jab to AT&T over their network quality.
Meanwhile, AT&T has dished out a series of freebies and discounts, like free mobile to mobile calling for unlimited text plan participants, a 25% off accessories coupon, and now these 1000 free minutes. It’s like an unpopular king who faces an uprising racing around the villages tossing pastries out his carriage doors to the rabble. Their ho-hum rebuttal ad to Verizon’s big ad felt as rushed as the businessman-husband character who was at its center, and their big gun is that you can “surf and talk at the same time!” — a feature that I have never used on purpose.
On the other hand, Verizon’s policy change about throttling high-bandwidth users that came out just before the iPhone went on sale was a sneaky surprise that only came out after being spotted by gimlet-eyed bloggers. And despite the pre-sales selling out, the lines for the Verizon iPhone were nowhere close to what the AT&T launches have been.
It will be fun to watch what other goodies shake out from the tree for consumers as the two wireless providers are forced to compete directly for iPhone users, but for now it looks it’s AT&T that’s making all the concessions.