T-Mobile USA is suing Starbucks Corp for secretly dealing with AT&T to offer free Wi-Fi Internet services in its cafes despite an exclusive agreement.
The lawsuit was filed late Thursday in New York state court where T-Mobile alleges that AT&T and Starbucks Corp are not living up to an agreement the three companies reached over how Starbucks should transfer from its T-Mobile partnership to a new partnership with AT&T.
T-Mobile was originally given the exclusive right to “sell, market and promote its services” in Starbucks stores until those stores were fully converted to the AT&T system.
The coffee chain stores would be converted “on a market-to-market basis” and T-Mobile was to retain the exclusive right to market and sell its Internet services until a market had been fully converted.
“Starbucks and AT&T … secretly developed a promotional plan under which they would offer ‘free’ AT&T/Starbucks Wi-Fi even in stores” that were still reliant on T-Mobile’s infrastructure, the lawsuit said.
Therefore, AT&T benefited from the agreement prematurely and at the expense of T-Mobile.
“Our goal is to ensure Wi-Fi access at all Starbucks locations. This is a benefit offered to our Starbucks Card Rewards members as well as AT&T subscribers and steps are being taken to ensure that this access continues,” Starbucks spokeswoman Stacey Krum said.