- Posted September 24, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Still waiting on Iphone 5S?
Basically, if you try to pre-order new phones in a local Sprint store, you are instead informed about a ‘waiting list.’ Typical procedure is for them to explain that you are buying a gift card (usually in the amount of $50-$100) that will be applied against the purchase of the new phone and that they will contact you when it’s in stock. They then explain that because supply will be limited, they can’t guarantee when they will get the phone in stock, but that you will get it when they do. This is where the trickery comes in.
If you look closely at the terms of the agreement, they are actually guaranteeing nothing, and taking your $50-$100 locking your purchase into their store, and preventing you from buying your device somewhere else (that may actually have enough stock on release day to sell you one). They do not guarantee your order on the waitlist. They do not guarantee that even if you’re at the top of the list on release day and present that they will even sell you a phone. Sprint typically takes a waiting list at least double the size of the stock they actually plan on having on release day, and then try to sell those customers different equipment once they are stuck with the gift cards.
One might wonder why a store wouldn’t just sell on a first come-first serve basis, or even on a legitimate pre-order list, and the answer is simple: money. Every time you sign a 2-year contract with a major cellphone provider, the store is paid a commission for setting up the contract. What most consumers don’t know is that the major companies actually pay MUCH more commission to the local stores for new accounts then they do for upgrade contracts (up to 3 times as much). The local stores also typically have a quota for new lines they must make on a regular basis. Basically, if I the local distributor have just two new Iphone 5S’, and a waitlist of 20 people for example, I sell the 2 units to the customer’s on the list who are setting up new accounts first, leaving the loyal and already signed up customer’s for last.
I’m sure in some cases managers also just sell to their friends first (or maybe even people who paid a little extra, heck, who knows) but I know for a fact management pushes these policies down all the way from the top. They have a plan every month that’s literally called ‘The Playbook’ and contains all these policies.
In our case, because I’m familiar with these practices, we asked the representatives at the store this question: “If I wait outside throughout the night to make sure I am the first person at the door when you start taking pre-orders, and get my name first on the list, will I be the first person to get Iphones from your store?” The answer was a resounding ‘no’ because they knew we were upgrade accounts and not new activations, and we were getting pushed back in the list.
It’s ok. We got our new Iphones at Bestbuy. They were happy to sell first come first serve on release day, and were rewarded for their straightforwardness with a line around the corner and $700 of our hard earned money (3 lines). The only lines like that you ever see at Sprint stores are for customer service issues. We got our phones, but if you ordered and didn’t you may want to be asking Sprint who got them before you did…