Consumerist reader Jen and her family have been using Sprint’s ancient Nextel network for some time, as it was the only option in their remote locale. But now that the plug is being pulled on that network, Jen is facing a bit of a dilemma. She’d like to upgrade to an iPhone, and a friend recently gave her an old AT&T iPhone, but Jen didn’t know if she’d be able to bring that phone over to a new carrier without getting locked into a new contract, especially given the general lack of service in her area. And so she decided to head over to Best Buy to check out the prepaid phone offerings.
“As we looked over the pay-as-you-go rack, an employee on his way past us stopped to ask if he could be of service,” she tells Consumerist. “We told him of our plight, and he immediately said, ‘I probably shouldn’t be sending you ‘out of store,’ but your best bet is to go to a local AT&T store and have them unlock the phone for you. You should be able to then use a no-contract plan while you decide if you want to wait for the newest model and commit to a contract plan.'”
That’s exactly what Jen had been trying to figure out, and she didn’t have to even buy anything or ask whacky questions like Amy Poehler.
This employee’s manager would probably be ticked off to hear this story, but if Best Buy is truly going to position its staffers as experts on these matters, then managers will have to realize that sometimes an actual expert is going to give advice that might result in the customer going elsewhere.
Of course, if the recent changes to the DMCA hadn’t made it against the law for customers to unlock their own wireless devices without permission from the carrier, that employee might have been able to help her then and there, and maybe she would have bought some new accessories for her pre-owned phone.