|Chris Everitt, managing director at TMAC Wireless Solutions and PANARAMIX|
Giving his view under the spotlight this month is independent dealer, Chris Everitt, managing director at TMAC Wireless Solutions and PANARAMIX. TMAC is built upon a foundation of practical telecoms, tracking and IT experience stretching across global network services and infrastructure, logistics, IT and asset tracking.
MB: Ofcom has unveiled new measures to protect consumers from falling victim to both landline and mobile phone miss-selling. There will be new rules for fi xed line and mobile sales, which will come into effect this year.
For a long time the consumer has been hit by miss-selling, which has tainted honest dealers. How have you seen this affect the independent dealer? Is it really an issue? And will the new regulations clear up this problem, or simply push those that want to make a quick buck to further extremes to con the public?
CE: Our industry has, on occasion, been likened to the used car industry; I think the real questions we should be asking ourselves is such a slur on our reputation justifi ed?
Let’s face it; many industries dabble in misselling, from the dodgy back street
mechanic who ‘reconditions’ rather than replaces your oil fi lter, to the air-sucking builder type who can talk the small crack in a window pane up to nothing short of a case of catastrophic subsidence. But that doesn’t make it right.
It happens and, as a general sweeping statement taken over a number of years, we might deserve to be tarred with the same brush as those used car dealers, dodgy mechanics and iffy builders of this world, but then again we might not. All industries have their ‘bad apples’.
The difference is that our industry has and is continuing to change, partly through regulation, improved practices and customer wariness, general saviness, and partly due to a whole bunch of less scrupulous dealers getting out of the industry (probably gone back to selling cars!).
Those dealers that remain are generally still here because they are honest, professional organisations with strong businesses and loyal customer bases. Most of the hooligans have been found out and kicked out, or just plain run away. Any that remain will come under the spotlight once more with these new regulations.
I’ve only mentioned the dealer fraternity thus far but for the record, some network representatives aren’t much better; it’s a dog eat dog world out there and the networks have one serious appetite to satisfy. Some of the best ‘lines’ to customers that I have heard have come from network staff.
In fact whilst on the subject of networks... when the ‘code’ was introduced in mid 2007, I remember the networks ‘looking’ at the disties and direct dealers and the disties ‘looking’ at the indirect dealers, but who had even a quick peek at the networks themselves? We as a dealer have certainly been on the wrong end of comments and ‘sales’ practices made by network representatives, which in itself must surely constitute ‘miss-selling’? I guess that if the dealer base continues to contract but the complaints don’t, we as an industry need to decide where to look next.
I guess the only way is ‘up’.....
MB: The European Commission has welcomed a commitment by industry to provide a common charger for mobile phones. The fi rst generation of new inter-chargeable mobile phones should reach the EU market from 2010 onwards. However, with a universal European mobile phone charger set to hit the stores, we want to know how you feel about the upset this may cause to accessory margins. Independent dealers have to use their wits to get the revenue rolling in at the best of times; how will this new charger affect your sales, and what do you think about the idea overall?
CE: We as dealers do make margin on these accessories of course, and if customers do not need to replace them every time they receive a new device then there is an obvious hit there. However I do not believe that it is signifi cant enough to concern the actual dealer, while I imagine accessories manufacturers and distributors will be less than enthusiastic about the idea.
I see no reason why accessory margins should drop; a charger is a charger and margin applies; ultimately there will just be less replacements required. As a B2B dealer I welcome the change. Let’s face it, wall chargers come in the box and car chargers are never going to the biggest revenue earners.
Take into account the time taken sourcing and stocking a wide range of chargers, plus the ‘aggro factor’ (and cost) when that charger that get’s sent to a customer for his ageing, slightly obscure but much loved device is the wrong one.
In the B2B sector it’s all about providing a service, and I look forward to the day when we only need to stock one charger, confi dent that we can whip it off the shelf knowing that it will fi t, and let’s face it we still make margin on it! Obviously there will be a period of time for all the legacy devices to wear out, but it’s a start.
Ed says: Thanks Chris. I guess we all look forward to the day when we can, like you, and I quote: “..whip it off the shelf knowing that it will fi t.” Fabulous. If you would like to be featured in this article over coming months, please email me at: email@example.com