AT&T Store Says IPhones Don’t Work

[tweetmeme]You just wonder how much of a beating the AT&T brand can take.  Once again, the company wasn’t up to the task of fielding orders for the new IPhone 4 and had to temporarily suspend sales because of all the errors buyers were encountering.  But, to be fair, so did Apple.

Like many IPhone users in New York – where reception and the dropped calls problem is getting so bad I’m thinking of buying a cell phone just for phone calls – I’m frustrated with the service.  AT&T has had three years to improve its service and hasn’t.  But this isn’t going to be story about AT&T, the company.

AT&T Franchise Knocks the IPhone

This is a report about how even AT&T’s franchises don’t believe in the IPhone.  I was walking on the street the other day and I passed an AT&T store.  Big letters on the sign over the door:  AT&T. Much signage inside the store:  AT&T.


So far, so good.  I walked up to the counter and one of the salesman asked me with a smile, “How can I help you today?”  I told him about my problems with reception and asked him if he had any ideas about how I could make it better.  Maybe reception is stronger standing in the middle of Central Park or on top of a skyscraper.

His smile immediately turned sour.  “Oh, no, we don’t carry IPhones.  They don’t work.  You’ll have to go to an AT&T corporate store, if you want to buy one.”  What?

Hello, AT&T Corporate.  Have you sent any memos to your franchise stores telling them that it is unacceptable to knock the IPhone and that doing so will damage your brand?   And just why aren’t they required to sell IPhones?

I’m just an ordinary consumer.  So when I see an AT&T store I don’t distinguish between franchise and corporate.  The store advertises the AT&T brand.  And the sales clerks should be upholding the brand, otherwise tell them to go work for Verizon.

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  1. Actually, Right or wrong it sounds like that franchisee is taking the higher road, on the hopes that if he provides a phone the customer can actually use in that area, then he will have a higher lifetime value for them and be a happier customer, whereas if he only gives them the iPhone, he’ll have riots in his store every day with people pissed off at him because they don’t function. He is the face of the company, yes, but think about it for a second as a business owner. He sees a product that while being hot, isn’t being adequately supported by his corporate overlords, so he is taking a stand against it in the name of his customer. Sure, he may lose some sales to people like you (I don’t mean that in a bad way) who have or want an iPhone, but they will gain the trust of the customers who they can satisfy and keep with devices that actually work on that network in that area. He refuses to sell a product he doesn’t believe in, and for that I say bravo (again, right or wrong, doesn’t matter, at least someone stood up and is trying to serve the customer’s interests – he can’t control or do anything about the network, but he can control what device he delivers to the customer that he knows works). I totally get your argument and it makes sense, but so does his. He picked his battles, and chose to support his customer base.

    If you were in his shoes, would you honestly do anything different? Would you still sell a device knowing that the customer will be back in there tomorrow irate about how it doesn’t work? I doubt you would, or if you would, I doubt it would be for very long.

  2. I agree the small franchise business owner is between a rock and a hard place. On one hand he should support all products that AT&T carries but on the other hand it is hard to sell a product he does not believe in. Taking a stand against AT&T may be his only way to get the corporation to take notice.

    I don’t have AT&T but would love an IPhone. I was not aware that there were so many problems with them. I never here complaints about the phone only praise. I hear people complain about AT&T but they all have different phones and not just IPhones. Is there a reason the store owner does not like IPhones? Maybe he should buy a new franchise.

  3. If they carry on like that their reputation and hence revenues will go down the drain. That’s no way to treat customers or run a business for that matter.

    Since I’m neither American nor live in the States I haven’t had any experience with them.