Sharp End: 3 POS material


3 changes POS

A while back I complained of 3’s POS as it insisted on listing the handset pricing in its point of sale material effectively imposing the price at which dealers had to do the handsets/contracts for.

In a few cases if a dealer did sell the phones on the tariffs indicated for free then they could be making a sizeable loss on the deal. I and many other dealers would not use 3’s POS for this reason as obviously we could not afford to.

At last it would seem that 3 has listened and, the other day, I took delivery of 3’s October POS brochures (three weeks into the month I know, pathetic isn’t it?) and 3 is no longer publishing the handset prices so finally I (and others) can actually make use of their brochures.

Orange business team poaching again

All had been well for quite a while. There was no real concern around losing customers to Orange’s direct team. But that appears to have changed again as reports are filtering through that Orange’s Business Team is actively poaching our business customers.

I have lost a deal for one of my band three upgrade customers who had already agreed to upgrade his tariff with 3 to a Solo 30 24-month agreement and I would supply him a BlackBerry 8520 and actually make a few quid.

This all changed over the last couple of weeks when said customer contacted me to say he had received a call from Mark Straughan in Orange Business Retentions who, after being told what I was offering, decided to give the customer a BlackBerry 8900 Bold on Solo 30 24-month including an extra 200 texts and insurance for only £29.50 per month.

This compares to the £36 per month I was offering for a lesser model of phone as well as 200 texts less.

Why do they (the networks) do it? The customer had already said he was going to commit to a new 24-month contract so why reduce his rental by £6.50 per month and give an extra 200 texts and give away a phone that cost £57 more? It beggars belief that this still goes on.

Whilst moaning about Orange upgrades, how many other dealers have noticed Orange upgrade bandings suddenly seem to drop as a customer gets close to their upgrade eligibility period?

I have noted on a few occasions now as I constantly keep track of customers with multiple phones as they approach upgrade. On several occasions now within just a few days the customer’s upgrade banding suddenly drops down.

So whilst keeping communications open with customers and figuring out what handsets I can provide them when they are able to upgrade I’m finding I’m having to be increasingly vague as I will likely have to rethink deals I offer because of lower than expected bandings.

One customer I’ve been keeping an eye on was within the last eight weeks of an Orange Business banding of band three.

The other day, just before I went to see the customer to get the go-ahead on another two year re-sign, I checked the banding and found they had changed to band one.

Band one upgrades pay next to nothing and do not even cover the cost of the most basic phones. I found this to be unbelievable on a business account with 26 handsets (22 were coming up for renewal).

Is this another attempt by Orange to put up hurdles for the dealer channel? I’m sure if the customer contacted Orange they would be able to offer the customer far more than I could at those rates.

I went to see the customer who did indeed give me the go-ahead to do something. But after I explained the situation he was annoyed and stated clearly that, unless the bandings changed and a deal could be done through me, then he would switch networks.

You see, Orange, customers do appreciate the specialist support they get from third parties, sometimes more than the brand on their bills.

Back-up, back-up

It’s getting harder to compete against networks but one service I use that goes down well with my customers is a remote contacts back-up service.

This one service alone secured me a 15 handset deal this month. The customer concerned had been approached by another company to renew their phones. The other company had gone in and offered the customer thousands of pounds back to try and get the renewal.

They had offered far more than I was prepared but my customer stayed with me regardless because I offered the service and could “remotely back up and restore” users’ contacts. A service which they had found invaluable numerous times over the last couple of years.

I use to create accounts for each customer, and maintain usernames and passwords for them. I set the service up and drop the customer a text now and again to remind them to back up.

In the event of a phone loss, they contact me and I send the settings to their new phone and, hey presto, they have all their invaluable contacts back.

Just one of the services the faceless networks cannot offer.