In 2011, AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile US Inc (NYSE:TMUS) were getting on swimmingly with the former being forced to abandon a nearly $40 billion takeover of the latter owing to regulatory issues. Since then, AT&T has simply pursued the customers of rivals Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), Sprint Corporation (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile rather looking to pick up either competitor – a move that would certainly be scuppered by the Federal Communications Commission and other regulatory bodies.

AT&T Frontier

At next week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas it’s expected that T-Mobile US Inc (NYSE:TMUS) plans to offer AT&T customers a switching option in order to pull customers from the considerably larger company. That news appears to have triggered a peremptory action by AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) in reverse. The wireless giant posted the following on its website today before the CES begins in earnest next week.

AT&T announces switching option

Beginning Jan. 3, under the limited-time offer, T-Mobile US Inc (NYSE:TMUS) customers who switch to AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) can trade-in their current smartphone for a promotion card of up to $250, which can be used toward AT&T products and services.  Trade-in values will vary based on make, model and age of the smartphone, but many of the latest and most popular smartphones will qualify for a value of $250.  T-Mobile customers can receive an additional $200 credit per line when they transfer their wireless service to AT&T and choose an AT&T NextSM plan, buy a device at full retail price or activate a device they currently own.

While many industry experts believe that the offer is a bit underhanded bordering on bullying, AT&T denied this via email to CNET.

Targeting T-Mobile Specifically?

“Wireless has always been a very competitive industry and a move like this should not be unexpected,” the representative said. “As you know, there are handset promotions all the time.”

The AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) rep went on to tell CNET that “while this promotion is targeted to T-Mobile customers, Sprint and Verizon customers can get a minimum $100 trade-in when they choose Next, plus pay only $25 per smartphone on Mobile Share Value plans.”

While that may well be the case, it’s considerably easier for AT&T to target T-Mobile customers given the fact that the two companies work on the same technology and it’s easier for T-Mobile customers to switch than, say, Sprint Corporation (NYSE:S)’s customers.

Suffice is to say, AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T)’s policy seems to be, “If you can’t own them, beat them about the neck and shoulders with a six iron and a chair leg,” while claiming it’s just standard operating procedure. And there is nothing wrong with that.