Dir-T tricks campaign

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A dealer told me he had a customer a little while back wanting to upgrade to the Samsung G600 on T-Mobile.

The dealer called the network, as he has dozens of times before, to see what upgrade allowance it would allow.

He was told T-Mobile could only authorise an upgrade to the value of £99.99 via the dealer, but if the customer upgraded direct with T-Mobile, they’d be allowed the Samsung G600 (RRP £159.99) for free.

The dealer informed T-Mobile he would deal with the customer himself and the customer agreed to upgrade to a different phone – out of stock at the time, but ready for delivery the next day on ordering.

A couple of hours later, the customer telephoned to inform the dealer she had received a call from T-Mobile after leaving the store and had been offered a free Samsung G600 and was instructed to cancel her order with the dealer.

This isn’t an isolated incident. The same dealer encountered the same problem with T-Mobile a couple of days earlier – a customer wanted a G600, had agreed to pay the £60 difference to secure the handset on upgrade, only to be contacted direct by T-Mobile with a free G600 just as the order was being processed on T-Mobile’s Telereg system.

On this occasion, the customer stuck up for his local shopkeeper, telling T-Mobile they were “disgusted” it would try to nick business from one of its own business partners behind their backs – especially as the dealer was the one that persuaded him to sign to T-Mobile in the first place. The dealer’s good relationship with the customer trumped T-Mobile’s skulduggery and money waving this time.

There is no justification for poaching, as I have said lots of times in this column, and as I will probably say time and again.

It seems T-Mobile, of all the networks, is on a real drive to steer business away from the independent channel at the moment. In fact, a good industry contact of mine who is looking for a new job in high street retail informed me recently he’d applied to T-Mobile and been told, in no uncertain terms, T-Mobile’s policy was to take business direct, and to do so aggressively.

These latest dealer reports, along with the web deals it’s been pushing for some time (the online double minutes offers to business customers, for example), would appear to back up those claims.

Build them better

Many dealers I speak to at the moment are complaining of the poor build quality of many of today’s mobile phones.

It’s just like the old saying goes – they don’t make them like they used to. But it is certainly true. As phones get more and more advanced, there are more and more things to go wrong.

Having said that, though, this is no excuse for some of the problems out there regarding faulty or even badly designed phones. The most common problem I’m seeing at the moment, as a dealer that does only the most basic of repairs and is in no way a service centre, is the phones coming in with broken screens or faulty ribbon cables ; the sheer number is incredible.

The most common handset model that gets returned to my shop because of a cracked screen or a faulty ribbon cable is the Samsung U600. Sony Ericsson phones also seem to be very susceptible to cracked LCD screens.

I’m not saying this means these phones are poorly designed. But like many other new models, because the phone is so thin, the screen inevitably cracks easily.

It would be nice to see more robustness in phones such as the Samsung U600 – especially for the customers.

But as long as the manufacturers see fit to put out handsets with major design weaknesses, then I’ll carry on taking the extra pocket money for repairs.

I charge the customer £45 for a screen repair, which sets me back in the region of £20 or £25 and takes me 15 minutes work. Not bad at all.

 

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