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T-Mobile compares AT&T to fleas crawling in your hair

Commentary: In a new, slightly creepy ad, a daughter worries about her itchy head. What's the cause? AT&T. Some viewers are appalled.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Oh, it's a fee infestation.

T-Mobile screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Do you have children who scratch their heads a lot?

Are you worried that they've been mixing with the wrong kids and are picking up, well, lice or fleas?

AT&T might be to blame.

No, this isn't my sentiment. It's that of T-Mobile in a new ad that aired Sunday during the Golden Globe Awards.

Here, we see the edifying spectacle of a mom inspecting her teen daughter's hair. The daughter's been complaining of an itching sensation, and a mom can't be too careful.

As mom goes through her daughter's long blonde locks, she discovers the problem: fees. (Fleas, geddit?) These things are crawling all over her head. Line access fees, administrative fees. Icky.

As, some might feel, is this ad.

The commercial then takes an unexpected turn. Her brother is fee-infested too. And tax-infested.

Dad knows where they've picked up these bugs. "Wait, have you been hanging out with the McCluskeys?" he asks. "They're on AT&T." Of course they are. T-Mobile's latest shtick is that it tacks no surprise fees and taxes onto your monthly bill. The price advertised is the price you pay, unlike with other carriers. It's T-Mobile's latest volley in the never-ending carrier wars.

Then comes the bombshell. "We're in love," says the daughter of the McCluskey boy. The symbolism is, indeed, warped here. T-Mobile users can't help but fall in love with AT&T types, despite infestation? Perhaps he'll clean up his act and switch?

AT&T didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some, though, have already reacted with distaste.

"The T-Mobile ads [sic] with the lice needs to be destroyed. Immediately," Washington Post's Chris Cillizza tweeted.

One of his commenters, @powercatjeffy71, added: "I told my wife it was the most painful commercial since the toenail fungus commercial."

Oh, yes. That one was awful.

Comedian Paul F. Tompkins mused in capital letters on Twitter: "HEY T-MOBILE TALE THAT DISGUSTING FEES/BUGS COMMERCIAL, HAVE IT MELTED & THEN DRINK IT."

Actress Holly Robinson Peete didn't react kindly either: "Was anyone else grossed out by that T-Mobile lice words commercial?? Worse than skittle pox ...yuck."

That's the thing about art. Not everyone always appreciates it. Not even Hollywood types.