£54M for no-fault returns cost goes local

Two thirds of phones returned as faulty are actually in perfect working order. This ‘No Fault Found’ (NFF) returns rate is 13% above the average for general consumer electronic devices.

The numbers come from WDSGlobal, a provider of knowledge-based services to the wireless data industry, which analysed 15,000 monthly post sales support calls taken on behalf of a major UK retailer. The NFF rate was 63% of mobile devices, and WDSGlobal reckons that is costing the mobile industry approximately £54m in the UK and $4.5bn globally.

Some 38% of the NFFs were from users abandoning devices after struggling to use a specific application, 13% were down to misselling (users claim that the device did not fulfil the purpose for which it was sold), and 49% were from users who diagnosed lack of preconfiguration as a device fault.

According to Doug Overton, Head of Communications for WDSGlobal: “MP3 players, digital cameras and mobile gaming devices all generally provide a more fulfilling out-of-box experience … The industry needs to look at the causes behind this trend and take positive action to improve the general out of box experience for the mobile subscriber”.

He pointed out that simple analysis of support call records provides all the necessary information to highlight problems. Improvements in device usability and automated configuration need to be matched by better information and advice at the point of sale.
“Most mobile retailers prefer to favour the promotion of specific brands, models or special offers and are failing to recognise customer requirements” says Overton, “The more astute retailers are already taking steps to improve their in-store advice through kiosks and staff training, but they currently represent the exception and not the rule.”

WDSGlobal recently ran a mystery shopper survey in the South of England that suggested 40% of assistants were not accurately positioning or selling products. The survey also pointed up a lack of knowledge; only 20% of retailers could describe the meaning of BlackBerry or 3G functionality to a moderate level.