FAISAL says … what dealers want
Faisal Sheik, Average Dealer and king of the Mobile Business Dealer forum, just wants a level playing field for the independents and the chance to make lots of money.
Let me explain. Last week, I put through a connection for a customer on the Orange Raccoon £35 plan. He got a pretty decent deal – 500 minutes, 200 texts and 250 landline minutes for £35 a month, with a Samsung D900 thrown in. I also told him he could call Orange customer services a couple of days after connection and request the free Orange broadband service – he seemed real pleased.
Next day, he called me up, asking me to cancel the contract.
You see, when he’d phoned Orange customer services to give them his PAC number, they’d told him that had he gone direct from Orange he’d have got the same deal – but instead of 500 minutes, he’d have got 550 minutes; and instead of 250 landline minutes, he could get unlimited calls to landlines.
In all fairness to the customer, it was a no-brainer. He wanted to know if I could do the same deal, as he liked the service he’d received from my company. When I told him we couldn’t, he was apologetic but confused: “I don’t know why they do that – why is it available in some places, but not others? I mean, you do sell Orange, right?”
I told him not to worry too much about it … But naturally enough I was hacked off. It’s a bloody good thing I couldn’t remember Sanjiv Ahuja’s name, otherwise my mail to him would have been a lot worse than it actually was! But in the end, all it did was make me more determined.
One topic has been generating a lot of interest on the Mobile Business Website Forum of late, and that is the idea of an independent dealer grouping (or trade union, as I prefer to call it. I’m a secret communist!).
This is not a new idea. It’s something which crops up every few years, but then sadly dies away. It’s been the topic of conversation a fair amount this year.
As single independent dealers we can rant and rave all we like, but we’re insignificant. The networks won’t mind losing the odd-dealer, because when one goes, another one can come in just as easily. That’s why they don’t give a flying f**k about our opinions, despite whatever else they might say in public. Our sole purpose in the industry is to be their pawns. Get connections when they tell us to, and then be dumped on whenever they might feel like it.
Whether it’s yo-yo commissions, direct undercutting, untimely pricing information, or lack of stock, the actions of the networks send out a loud and clear signal to small independent dealers.
When you consider the way that Vodafone has just widdled all over Carphone Warehouse, it makes you realise that on our own we’re extremely vulnerable. At worst, we’ll stop connecting to an unsupportive network; but they’ve got plenty of other ways to make that up.
Losing one independent dealer won’t make a huge difference … But how about losing five dealers? Or 20 dealers? Or maybe 50?
That’s just made you sit-up and take notice, same as it would the networks.
Be quite clear – no-one’s proposing radical direct action, or mass boycotts. But we do benefit from having strength in numbers.
To determine precisely how best we might use that strength, it is important that independent dealers now start discussing what they want out of any dealer trade union.
It will happen, be in no doubt about that. I had an excellent conversation on this topic with Jez Harris, the greatly respected columnist and Birmingham-based independent dealer. Read more about it on the Mobile Business magazine forum and across various media outlets.
And it’s great to know that we have the support of the industry press – this is something I’ve discussed with the team at Mobile Business and the other mobile press, not to mention many more from the distributor, network and manufacturer communities. A lot of these guys are on board. Are you? Check the forum to find out the next steps.
THIS MONTH’S TOP THREE DEALS
1 Nokia 6233 on Video Talk Text 700 with International calling bundle – £50 a month before half-price and double minutes/texts promotions. It’s not so much the deal, it’s the International calling add-on – the best thing from 3 this year, and a step in the right direction.
2 MDA Vario II on Flext 50 with Web’n’Walk for £57.50 a month. High-end, but a great package to complement the phone of the year.
3 Samsung D900 on Raccoon at £35pm. Good package (with free broadband) for a great handset.
THIS MONTH’S TOP THREE GRIPES
1 Vodafone shafting CPW. After T-Mobile last month, it seems Vodafone is now trying to impose the continental practice of stores dealing with a just a few networks. There’s a reason the UK is the most advanced market in the world. Vodafone has seriously cocked up.
2 Networks undercutting dealers, Part 454369. You confuse your own customers and devalue your own brand. If you’re really value our partnership, stop this stupid halfway house approach.
3 Lack of quarterly pricing. No chopping and changing, no waiting till the last night of the month – just start planning so we’re better able to sell your products.
Quite simple this month – Orange has really taken the biscuit!