Cellphone Dealers Won’t Sell Nice Phones To Less Profitable Customers

Cellphone dealers will sometimes hold new and limited quantity cellphones from existing customers, preferring to sell them to more profitable new customers or contract upgrades, members of HowardForums allege.

Many states construe failing to sell a product if it is in stock false advertising. Texas is one (see Texas Business & Commerce Code, Ch. 17, Secs. 12 and 46).

A salesman in the forum defends the practice, saying, “We are looking out for the company too! Cingular does not profit on selling devices at retail.” — BEN POPKEN

Store says, “I won’t sell you an 8525” [Howard Forums] (Thanks to BKDF!)


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  1. Musician78 says:

    Damn Corporate America! Damn it all to Hell!

  2. bluegus32 says:

    I’m not going to go research this right now but I’d imagine this violates a lot of states’ Unfair Business Practices laws. Seems like a dangerous and silly thing to do.

    “Cingular does not profit on selling devices at retail”?

    Yeah, well how profitable is it to get hit with a class action suit?

  3. Paul D says:

    Cingular does not profit on selling devices at retail.

    Your profit margin is not my problem. That’s the beauty of consumer protection laws.

  4. bluegus32 says:

    Paul D — I have never heard a more succinct summation of consumer protection laws. Very nice.

  5. Bye says:

    A few months ago this happened to my partner and I with Cingular. There was a new style of phone we wanted and the reps on the phone said it was not available. We went to a Cingular store and didn’t tell them we were existing customers and when inquiring about the model, we were told they had them in stock. When we then said we were existing customers, he looked up our account, did some more typing, and then informed us that they didn’t have the phones after all. At the time I just thought it was poor inventory tracking, but now I question that completely.

  6. ftablogger says:

    Recently, I signed up for a new contract with T-Mobile. Online, they were offering a nicer phone for free with a 2 year contract. I decided that Armed with what I thought was leveraging power, I went to the mall where there was one of those cell phone franchises to either 1. Get a nicer phone 2. Not pay the activation fee (which I think is crap anyway) 3. BOTH!

    After being talked down to by the salesman who LIED to me about why the phone (the motorola PEBL) was being given away for free online (he told me they were refurbished and bad and he wouldn’t sell me one anyway because he’s a good guy but corporate would do it to the consumer without compunction.) He then asked me whether I even KNEW what refurbished means. It was laughable. I said yes and thought he would back off. He didn’t. He asked me to define it. I did. After all this, I think I wore him down.

    He said he had to charge the activation but would give me a phone provided I pay for it now at a discounted rate, I would get a rebate on the phone as well. After asking him time after time whether I acually qualified for the rebate, he said yes and stupidly enough I believed him.

    I left the Mall with 2 year contract and having paid him $50 with the promise of getting a $50 rebate from T-Mobile.

    THREE MONTHS LATER. T-Mobile sends me a letter telling me I’m not eligible. I hate cell phone providers.

    Calling up the rebate line, I was told, “Well, I know this is frustrating but it looks like you’ve been robbed of $50.” You’d think that T-Mobile would train them to be careful with their word usage. “Robbed” is probably not standard training lexicon.

    Angry, I called ACTUAL TMobile, explained the situation and they said they would credit my account for $50 next month. WE’ll see if that’s gonna happen…

    Those phone salesman are the shiftiest people ever. I don’t understand why cell providers don’t make more of an effort to regulate their behavior. From lying to being ridiculously condescending. Whatkind of customer service is that?

  7. “Cingular does not profit on selling devices at retail”

    I would suggest finding something else that IS profitable instead of forcing others to bend to your business model in order to be profitable. This kind of thinking stirs me at the deepest levels of my practical and logical thinking that I would be tempted to start ranting about all the companies and corporations who plead to the governments of the world to protect them from the consumer.

    Instead, I will just use this seed of anger in a more useful manner and maybe write about it elsewhere.

    The quote is too much to add here, but look up the wonderful quote by Heinlein about profit. It is from the book “Life-Line”.

  8. Xkeeper says:

    This really makes me want to try getting one, having them bring it out, and then inform them it’s for someone who already has a contract.

    I wonder what they’d do then, since the phone is clearly visible and right there…

  9. alastaira says:

    I went into a Cingular store in Boston two weeks ago to upgrade to the new Blackberry Pearl. The manager told me that they had no inventory. A new sales person blurted out “yeah, you’ve still got four in the back.” He looked very upset with her. He then said they are very popular, he has to be “careful with them” and that they were like Playstation 3s – they were supposed to get 25 and only got six. I told him that I have five different accounts with Cingular (why oh why??) and spend $400-500 a month, so probably qualified as a “good customer”.

    To cap it off, I then told him I was eligible for a 25% equipment discount, under my wife’s employer’s plan. He looked really sick and tried to tell me that that didn’t apply to this particular model. I told him to call the other manager, who I had spoken to the previous day about the plan. He did so – and was told to sell it to me.

    I really hope they lost a lot of money on that sale, even though I know that they are way ahead of me overall.