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AT&T CEO slams T-Mobile for its senior discounts marketing campaign

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AT&T (T) CEO John Stankey has a message to rival T-Mobile: Cut the nonsense when advertising to seniors.

“They issued some statements and went out into the market with some communications that were inaccurate and not true,” Stankey told Yahoo Finance Live at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia + Technology Conference this week (video above).

T-Mobile (TMUS) — long seen as a clever marketer of its wireless brand — recently launched a campaign dubbed “Verizon and AT&T Ban Senior Discounts.” The marketing stunt claims that “92% of seniors in the U.S. can’t get a wireless discount from Verizon or AT&T because they don’t live in Florida.”

The campaign is meant to shed light on T-Mobile’s Unlimited 55+ plan, which gives people over the age of 55 a discount to access its network. An existing entry-level package for those over the age of 55 starts at $40 a month. AT&T also offers a 55+ plan, but it’s only available in Florida.

AT&T CEO John Stankey speaks onstage at Day 2 of the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit 2018 at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on October 10, 2018, in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

AT&T quickly filed a lawsuit against T-Mobile in Texas’s Eastern District Court, claiming T-Mobile engaged in false advertising. T-Mobile didn’t immediately return Yahoo Finance’s request for comment.

“I felt like in this case, there was demonstrable damage done in the market given how broadly communicated this was to the senior community,” Stankey added. “And I’d like the courts to actually take a look at that and maybe deliver a little bit more of a significant review than doing it through the traditional channels that it does.”

When asked if T-Mobile’s tactics frustrated him, Stankey offered a frank response.

“We come to work every day, we know we’re going have competitors, and we work aggressively to do what we need to do to tell our story,” he said. “But I’m not going to stand by idly and have somebody not tell the truth about my company. And from that perspective, you’re going to get a response.”

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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