Orange is set to axe its handset trade-in offer from retail stores next month. Staff worried last week the move could lead to a drop in sales.
The ‘buyback’ scheme enables customers to trade-in old handsets for a discount on their monthly line rental, worth up to £180 over the course of their contracts.
The discount value depends on the contract and the new handset they opt for, not the value of the trade-in handset. It has been available to Orange customers for more than two years.
Staff claimed last week the offer had already been removed from stores on contract upgrades, as well as prepay, which used to pay £10.
The buyback offer is still available on new contracts, but staff have been told no more than 20 per cent of new contracts can be sold with buyback.
Orange is still offering buybacks on the Samsung G600, Samsung Tocco, Nokia 6500 Slide and Sony Ericsson C902.
"Orange has always been a little more expensive than other networks, but the buyback offer made it slightly cheaper on certain deals," said one staffer.
"I don’t know why Orange is doing it. Customers miss out, and we’ve lost a valuable sales tool. We will almost certainly see sales fall."
Another added: "This will hit sales hard. Unless Orange reduces its tariffs there will be trouble, as customers won’t pay full price if they know they can get the same deal cheaper elsewhere.
"Buy-backs were the one thing pulling people in. If you can get a £35 tariff down to £26, you’re more likely to complete the sale. Customers are watching their budget at the moment anyway."
But a store manager defended the move, claiming Orange has already met most of its store targets and the removal will save it money.
"Orange probably doesn’t need to drive sales right now; it’s well on target. It will just lose money if it puts huge discounts on new lines. Business won’t be affected by this, because customers come in to stores regardless."