Dealers to be licensed?


I think it’s a valid question. Just think about it; dealers process confidential information about customers and even hold copies of proofs on file, as well as bank details and even credit card information. Other industries need to be licensed, such as insurance brokers, pensions advisors and loan companies – why not mobile dealers?

Anybody holding more than the most basic information on customers in an electronic format already has to be registered under the Data Protection Act. The advantages of also being registered could be many. For example, dealers would have to undergo proper checks to ensure they adhere to certain guidelines, such as ensuring they are registered under said Data Protection Act, and maybe some form of extra insurance to protect customer information, or to protect cashback customers in the event of a dealer going bust.

Maybe the networks should work together and create some form of universal approval process that anyone wishing to connect contract customers to the networks has to undergo. The networks could ensure anyone that has anything to do with a company that has, for example, previously gone out of business cannot get approval for connecting contract customers.

A scheme such as this would require a lot of co-operation from networks and distributors, but would go a long way to ensuring the majority of fly by night or dodgy dealers cannot get approval. Without approval, the networks and/or distributors would not be allowed to supply such a dealer.

The networks would gain tremendously – they would (hopefully) receive only quality connections, as dealers would have to maintain a certain quality threshold to remain approved. The industry would be seen to be policing itself, by weeding out unscrupulous dealers, and hopefully clawback some respect (no pun intended).

Some people I’ve spoken to would much prefer a scheme similar to this, rather than banning cashback altogether – legitimate cashbacks by legitimate dealers can be very beneficial to both dealer and customer. But I’m sure everyone would agree something needs to be done to clean up the image of the dodgy cashback dealer. Something like this proposal could go a long way towards attaining that goal.

Talking of cashback, T-Mobile have joined 3 and Orange in sending out guidelines to dealers with regard to the offering of cashbacks. The main point raised by T-Mobile is cashbacks should not be allowed for an amount greater than the commission paid for the deal minus the cost of the handset provided for that deal.

Sounds pretty straight forward to me, but how do you regulate it? What are your thoughts? Get involved in the debate and log in to the forum today to discuss this topic.

iPhone – love it, hate it

The other day I called into an Apple store to check out the latest version of the iPod, the iPod Touch – basically, it’s an iPhone without the phone. I wanted to check out the touch interface for myself and must say I thought it was fantastic.

Apple has mastered both the design and the interface of the iPhone/iPod Touch; there is nothing like it out there (yet).

The device just flowed from one application to the next without any lag at all and scrolling through photos and zooming in and out with the pinch of two fingers was impressive to say the least.

Internet browsing, via the built in Safari browser, and Wi-Fi was also faultless. Internet pages were loaded in a thumbnail type view and simply clicking on the relevant section of the screen zoomed as Safari refreshed the screen without any lag time at all.

All this playing around with the iPod Touch really left me wanting an iPhone when it comes out early next month, but the extortionate cost of the monthly package from O2, for what can only be described as an inferior talk plan compared to some of its rivals, on top of the £270 purchase cost of the handset is ridiculous.

Having said that, it has now been announced that hackers have also managed to overcome the latest firmware upgrade Apple released a couple of weeks ago, that promptly “bricked” a lot of the iPhones that had previously been unlocked.

It is now possible to unlock and run third-party applications even on the latest version of the iPhone.

So it looks like I, and many others I’m sure, will be buying the iPhone from O2 or Carphone Warehouse and never actually signing up to O2, simply getting it unlocked to use on our existing networks.

And while I’m sure Apple will manage to lock down the iPhone again with another update, I’m equally sure that it won’t be long after that it’s unlocked all over again.