Monday, November 21, 2005

Consumers Down On Carriers For Cellular Phone Buys

TechWeb covers a new report from NPD Group that finds "consumers are unhappy with buying a cellular phone from carriers, giving higher ratings to retailers." According to NPD, "only 24 percent of the more than 2,100 consumers surveyed said buying a mobile phone from a carrier-owned story was an "excellent or good experience." Mass merchants, such as Wal-Mart, and electronic retailers, on the other hand, scored higher levels of satisfaction."

Nextel and Cingular were top-ranked among the carriers, while T-Mobile and Sprint were at the bottom. RadioShack and Wal-Mart scored the highest, "ranking high in helpful sales staff, variety and selection of wireless products, and store layout."

Clint Wheelock at NPD noted that the carrier store's "Achilles' heel is in knowledge and helpfulness of their sales staff." Only 1 in 4 were as ranked "extremely or very good." Wheelock said, "It's pretty typical (in the retail industry) to see 60, 70 and 80 percent in this area. The fact that they're down in the 20s is a red flag to me. These numbers really quantify that consumers are generally unhappy in the experience of buying a cellular phone."

The study also found that the majority of consumers "were repeat phone buyers, with only 14 percent saying they were buying their first handset. More consumers, 39 percent, were upgrading to better phones, while 15 percent were replacing a broken one."

I've never had the best experience dealing with Cingular's sales folks either in the store or on the phone. Granted I like to do a lot of research before making a purchase, but oftentimes I'll know more about the product line than the reps...