FAISAL says … What dealers want

Faisal Sheik, Average Dealer, avid emailer, king of the Mobile Business Dealer forum, just wants a level playing field for the independents and the chance to make lots of money.
I love email. It’s so important to the way I live my life, whether it’s for work, rest or play. So I thought I’dshare some of the contents of my inbox with you. First off, here’s a great joke:
A husband and wife are in court getting a divorce. The problem was who should get custody of the child. The wife said, “Your Honour. I brought the child into this world with pain and labour. She should be in my custody.”
The judge turns to the husband and says, “What do you have to say in the matter?”
The man slowly rose and said, “Your Honour, if I put a dollar in a vending machine and a Pepsi comes out, who’s Pepsi is it? Mine or the machine’s?”

Let me share a second email with you; this one’s from a customer who I’d lined up to go on T-Mobile’s FlexT 35 plan.
Hey Mr Sheikh! I think T-Mobile are doing the 6280 at some low line rental of £26.50 or something instead of the £35 for life on the FlexT tariff if you buy from them directly? My sis wanted one too so she was telling me … let me know if that’s the case pls.

Who’s winning here?
I cannot tell you how frustrating that is. We waited impatiently for the launch of FlexT. It was something that looked a win-win for customers and dealers – a great package, but also great earnings potential! I mean, £35 for up to 900 minutes! That’s unheard of. It’s the kind of value never seen before, not even from 3.

But actually, it’s now expensive – because T-Mobile instantly declared that it’s even better value if you buy direct. “Why pay £35 to a dealer, when you can come to us and pay £26.25?”

Dealers have long been used to radio and newspaper ads promising customers a better deal when they buy direct, but it’s never been on like-for-like price plans. The T-Mobile offer, 25% off for life across the whole range of FlexT and Relax tariffs, is a direct strike!

At the recent Hugh Symons Unity seminar, one of the speakers mentioned the topic of customer ownership. He said the networks ultimately owned the customers; and resellers/dealers and distributors just have to deliver the connections.

I couldn’t disagree more!
Say our vending machine guy from the first email above is shopping in a department store in the Bluewater shopping centre. He gets thirsty, so he buys a Pepsi from a vending machine in the store. Whose customer is he? Pepsi’s? The vending machine company? The department store?
Or is he a Bluewater customer?

Ultimately, as the email pointed out, no-one has any rights over him and nobody owns him.
The same is true for a customer in the mobile phone industry. Nobody owns a customer. Not the network, nor the dealer, distributor, nor the handset manufacturer. But what we do have is a collective responsibility towards them.

A customer walks into an independent store, and sees FlexT 35 at £35 per month. Down the road he sees the same product in a T-Mobile store for £26.25. Result? A very confused customer. If he then goes to CPW or Phones 4U, and then sees FlexT 35 for £17.50 after redemption, it all adds to the confusion.
Ultimately we should all be singing from the same hymn sheet. Networks, manufacturers, dealers; – we all need to make sure the customer gets the same message. That’s why it’s time for all this direct/indirect nonsense to stop. If network direct channels or retailers want to compete, they should offer a promotion or a free gift. But keep the playing field level – the core tariffs should always be the same. There’s a reason it’s called FlexT 35 and not FlexT 26.25!

Let’s look at it another way. T-Mobile can get £35 a month from a customer they connect through a dealer, or £26.25 a month from a customer they connect directly. That’s quite a substantial loss in revenue. As I’ve said, this applies to all networks, but T-Mobile has set higher expectations because of its dealer-friendly track record. So come on guys, take the lead and stop under-cutting your own resellers.
Till next month … Ciao

Send your thoughts, comments, opinions and moans to faisal@mbmagazine.co.uk. And if you can’t send opinions, send Jaffa cakes!
Hasta pronto!

1 T-Mobile FlexT 35 with Web’n’Walk on Nokia N70 – £18 a month with unlimited data. It’s a great 3G substitute for the (still absent!) MDA Vario, and with £110 margin, it keep us happy too!
2 3 Video & Talk & Text 1100 with the Nokia 6280 – £18 a month. With double minutes and half-price line rental, and a £157 margin, it’s smiles all round.
3T-Mobile FlexT 35 with the Motorola V3i – £18 a month. One of the most desirable handsets still available, with a £135 margin.
1Stock availability – especially when concerning current promotions.
2Networks devaluing own brand with unnecessary price cuts.
3Networks confusing customers by going direct with similar offers.
Saadet Yelcin from 3’s press office for helping to raise nearly £3000 for the South Asian Earthquake victims! Go girl!…

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