Sharp End: 2009 network/dealer relations

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Well Christmas and New Year have come and gone, and if you are anything like me and others I’ve spoken to, it was hardly festive.

The rush we anticipated all year and every year never happened; not even for unlocking phones which is what I was putting my hopes into.

With the media reporting on a daily basis of companies going bust, including big names we thought were unbreakable, such as Woolworths, Adams and MFI, the general public are becoming fearful of parting with their hard-earned cash, lest they too may be out of a job soon.

I predict our industry over the next few weeks is going to see an awful lot of closures too. Many businesses were probably hanging on for the Christmas period in the hope of some decent sales; and without that last minute rush simply cannot survive any longer. A shame, but that’s the reality of it.

It’s not all doom and gloom though – there are glimmers of optimism. 02 has reversed its stance on trying to force higher tariffs for high end phones – instead of forking out £75 a month for a premium phone, customers are now back to paying £35.

O2 has also renegged on restricting which dealers can and can’t approach an O2 customer.

T-Mobile is introducing its new Business1 tariffs next week with double the minutes, unlimited texts and unlimited landline calls for 24-month tariffs.

Even Jean-Pascal Van Overbeke, Orange’s VP for sales and retentions has hinted that there will be a shift away from network direct loyalty offers and more synergy with indirect dealers, recognising the quality and service levels that independents offer – finally.

So, let’s hope, with fewer of us, that 2009 is the year it starts swinging our way again.

For more on iPhone unlocking with the Dev Team and the breakdown of relations between the IMPDA and Phone Dealer Forum, see Mobile News issue 430 (January 12, 2009).

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