Today was a bad day for my cellphone.
Two years ago, I swore that I would never have the need nor desire to get a smartphone. I was totally wrong on that and quickly found that a smartphone is almost a requirement to run a website and do business in today’s world. Today’s “accident” really taught me a lot about the cellphone business.
Let’s rewind to this morning. I’m making my way to Danville’s City Hall carrying my laptop, backpack, a TV camera and a tripod. Needless to say, that’s a load to haul. Unknown to me as I walk past the
Masonic Temple River City Towers building (Yeah, I still call it the Masonic Temple), my Blackberry phone holster flips and dumps my phone onto the pavement. Blissfully unaware of this fact, I proceed to the City council chambers and set up for the meeting. As I’m finishing getting everything ready, I decide to check my messages and realize that my phone is missing. I resist the urge to go into total panic mode and pull out my emergency prepaid phone that I carry and call my number to see if my phone is nearby. Of course, there’s no sound around as my phone isn’t anywhere close. That’s when the total panic mode kicks in and I start to retrace my steps. I make it back to the scene of the mishap and find my phone laying on the sidewalk with the battery door about 5 feet away. There’s no damage to the phone but I notice my battery is missing. Uh-oh! There are steel grates on some of the downtown city sidewalks that have been sealed up for a very long time and six feet down, there’s about 3 inches of water. Yep, you guessed it. My battery’s at the bottom of that nasty bacteria frappe. Lovely.
Well, I’m overdue for an upgrade on my phone so after I finish my work at the City Council meeting, it’s time to go shopping for either a new battery or a new phone. I quickly found out that finding a Blackberry phone battery in Danville is impossible. No problem, because I know we’ve got two Verizon “Authorized Retailers” in Danville. I make my way over to the “Wireless Zone” at Coleman Marketplace. I walk in and the salesclerk behind the counter takes my information… sorta. Obviously, her text messaging is much more important than actually taking care of a potential new customer. Verizon’s customer service needs to call me to confirm my account information, but since my phone doesn’t have a battery, that’s not possible. I ask if she’d let me borrow her battery for a minute so that we can authenticate my account, but clearly that’s not possible because she’s too busy sending three more friggin’ text messages while not giving a damn about me. Going once… going twice… and… NO SALE! I walk out of there and head to the one on Mount Cross Road.
I head to “A Wireless”. That’s an interesting name which was deviously picked out because when you’re an Authorized Retailer, Verizon makes you put your business name before the words “Authorized Retailer” on your business signage. So with that business name, it makes the sign look like “A Verizon Authorized Retailer” and lots of people think you’re dealing with Verizon directly when you’re not. Anyway, I walk into the store and immediately get greeted by four employees. I tell them my situation and that I’m running short on time today, so we get my account information confirmed and start talking about what’s available. While aggressive salesmanship can be useful at times, I was completely overwhelmed by the “We need to close this sale now” attitude. To top that off, I know that this store’s pricing is way higher than what I can get by directly dealing with Verizon. I start to leave and the aggressive salesperson says “You’ll be back by 4, right?” and “I can deliver this phone to you today, just put this $250 on your credit card now”. NO SALE! I bail out of there quickly and get to my office. (Edited to add: Not only did Mr. Buy The Phone Now! try to push me around, he even very strongly hinted that I needed to add another phone line to my service. Mouthy’s smart, but he can’t use a cellphone yet.)
Once I get to the office, I go online and pick the phone that I want. I call Verizon and tell them exactly what I want, what I’m willing to pay and the services I need. I talk to a very friendly and knowledgeable salesperson and we work out a deal. I order the phone online while I’m on the phone with her and she immediately applies the discounts that we worked out. The phone that the aggressive salesperson wanted me to pay $250 for becomes a phone that costs me $50 and it will be delivered to me at my office tomorrow morning.
Moral of the story: Pay attention to your customer and they just might buy from your store. Don’t push your customer aggressively and they just might buy from your store. Take the time to listen to what your customer needs and make the necessary small steps needed to close the deal and the customer will buy from you. I’ve been a Alltel/Verizon customer for over eight years now and with the service I received from Verizon today, I’ll be a customer for a long time. As for the “Authorized Retailers”… never gonna happen, folks.
Update #1: I’ve just received an email from the owner of the “Wireless Zone” store in Coleman Marketplace that is very apologetic for the poor service that I got last week. She’s asked me to call her on her personal cellphone to discuss this further. I’ve got to admit that I’m quite surprised by this email and I’m also very pleased. I’ll update this article again once I talk with the owner.
Update #2: I had a nice phone call with the owner of the “Wireless Zone” store. Shes got the right attitude that it takes for customer service and I believe that she was make sure my experience doesn’t happen to any other customer. Based on our talk, I’d be verywilling to go into her store and give them another chance to earn my business.