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T-Mobile's freebie bonanza stumbles out of the gate

Customers complain of not being able to sign on to the T-Mobile Tuesdays app, which yields free pizza and more.

John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile, speaks at an Un-carrier event in SF on September 10th, 2014.
Josh MIller/CNET

T-Mobile has a case of the Tuesdays.

Today was supposed to mark the start of the carrier's big thank you program, which includes free stock and pizza. All customers had to do was open up the T-Mobile Tuesdays app to redeem their prizes.

Unfortunately, the app hit a snag in its debut.

The popularity of the T-Mobile Tuesdays app -- it's the fifth-most popular free app on Apple's App Store -- overwhelmed the company, with customers complaining about server errors or being unable to even open the program. It's a bit of an embarrassing wrinkle for the usually slick company, which has used various "Un-carrier" programs to drum up attention for its service.

"Still down," a Twitter user with the screen name @AndrewPunch tweeted in the afternoon. "Never underestimate the demand for free pizza."

With more than 60 million customers and the chance for many to redeem a share of T-Mobile stock, it shouldn't be a surprise that the app struggled to keep up with demand. Apple's servers famously conked out during many of its early iPhone launches as millions attempted to activate their devices at the same time.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere acknowledged the outage with a tweet: "We're experiencing unbelievable response to the #TMobileTuesdays app! Hang in there."

There is a time element to these freebies, with the Domino's Pizza, Wendy's Frosty and Vudu movie rental available only today. Of course, if you miss the giveaways today, they'll be back next week. Legere later tweeted that customers wouldn't lose anything and that "we'll make this right ASAP!'

T-Mobile's customer appreciation program comes a week after the debut of the AT&T Thanks program, which doesn't offer anything that's free without a purchase, though there's a buy-one-get-one-free movie ticket deal on Tuesdays at select theaters.

Update, 5 p.m. PT: Legere tweeted late this afternoon that T-Mobile had added more capacity and that the app was up and running.