Eric writes that he wanted to upgrade the phone that he uses on his T-Mobile prepaid plan. He decided on a T-Mobile Comet, and found a great price on it at Radio Shack. The crack sales team at The Shack had the phone in stock, and would be very happy to sell it to him along with a two-year contract. This being the reason why Eric has a prepaid plan, he declined.
The salesman insisted that this was a policy that came straight from the district manager, and “called” to confirm it. When Eric asked for the manager’s number so he could discuss the problem himself, the manager turned out to be a fax machine. When Eric insisted on being given the real number, that’s when the salesman threatened to call mall security.
I’ve been researching smartphones online for a while and finally decided to purchase a prepaid T-Mobile Comet from Radio Shack. The price online was $20 less than anywhere else and Radio Shack’s site showed that the phone was in stock at my local store. So my 8 year old daughter, 6 year old son and I hopped into the car and drove to the Radio Shack at [redacted] Mall in [redacted] . I figured I would buy the phone from the local retail store and support the local economy instead of ordering it online and having it delivered. This is where the story takes a turn towards the weird.
My children and I walked into the store at about 5:20pm on December 20th, 2010 and after looking for and not seeing the Comet on display, we walked up to the counter and were greeted by two salesmen. I asked if they had any Comets in stock since I didn’t see any near the other phones. One of the salesmen said he had the Comets in the stockroom and would be happy to sell me one with a new contract. I explained to him that I wasn’t interested in a contract and that I would just like to purchase the phone as a prepaid phone and use my existing SIM card from a previous T-Mobile prepaid phone in the new one. I pulled out a printout of the advertised boxed prepaid Comet and showed it to him. He said his District Manager, [redacted], told him he was not allowed to sell the phone as a prepaid even though it was packaged for retail as a prepaid phone. I then asked him if he could call up his District Manager to see if he was mistaken. He proceeded to walk all the way to the back of the store and called [redacted] , or so he said. He came back a minute or so later and stated that she wouldn’t allow the sale unless I would agree to “activating” the phone at the store for an extra, yet to be determined, charge. I told him that I didn’t want a new phone number, there was nothing to activate and I already had a SIM card to use. I just wanted to purchase the phone; nothing else, and I would take care of the rest.
He then said if I wanted to, I could call up the [redacted] myself. I agreed and asked for her number. He was a bit hesitant to give it out even though he had asked me if I wanted it. He wrote a number on a card and I then asked if I could borrow his phone. He seemed a bit surprised by my request. I believe he just expected me to take the number and leave.
He let me borrow the phone and I called up [redacted] only to be greeted by the screech of a fax machine on the other end. I hung up and asked him for the real number this time. He wrote down another number but said that it was just a main office number and I wouldn’t be able to reach her. I then asked him for the phone number he just used to call her and that’s when he said my children and I should leave or he was going to call security.
I was utterly stunned that this guy was threatening me in front of my children because he specifically asked me if I wanted her number and then refused to give me the correct one when I agreed. At no time was the exchange ever hostile and I never came close to raising my voice. We left immediately after his threat. I figured I could always order the phone online anyways and if Radio Shack didn’t want my business without the ability to up-sell, then it’s their loss. My daughter was especially disturbed by what the salesman said and I had to explain to her that her dad wasn’t really going to jail.
I had been a customer of that particular Radio Shack for over 20 years. I’ve heard a few horror stories about Radio Shack in general, but was truly surprised at how dishonest and slimy this local operation devolved into. They’ve lost a customer for life. When I was a kid, I used to purchase their catalog and drool over all the cool stuff inside. The store used to be staffed by knowledgeable, honest salespeople. How times have changed. No wonder the store was empty 5 days before Christmas.
No, it’s hard to drum up business when you insist on selling two-year contracts along with prepaid cell phones. Well done, Shack.