Hard sell: Verizon Wireless clerks pushing Android phones over iPhone

“Want to buy an iPhone? Verizon would really, really like you to consider an alternative,” David Goldman reports for CNNMoney.

“Anecdotal evidence is stacking up on chat forums and other outlets from people who say that Verizon Wireless’ sales representatives actively discouraged them from buying an iPhone and instead pushed hard for rival smartphones,” Goldman reports. “I decided to find out for myself. I had 10 conversations with Verizon (VZ, Fortune 500) sales representatives in New York stores, on the phone, and in online chat sessions, asking about my options for a new smartphone. Here’s what I found: Next time you walk into a Verizon store looking to buy a smartphone, expect the hard sell on a 4G Android device.”

Goldman reports, “In each of the 10 discussions, representatives steered me toward either the Motorola (MMI) Droid Razr Maxx, the Droid Razr, or the LG Lucid — all 4G-capable phones running Google’s (GOOG, Fortune 500) Android software. When I asked if those devices were better than the iPhone, they responded that the iPhone was an inferior alternative because it only runs on the company’s slower 3G network… I initially told half the representatives that I wanted “a new smartphone,” and half that I was interested in an iPhone. When I said up front that I wanted an iPhone, none tried to talk me out of it. But when I followed up by asking if it was the best smartphone, they all said no.”

MacDailyNews Take: Despite this, of the 6.3 million smartphones sold by Verizon last quarter, 3.2 million, or over half, were Apple iPhones. Imagine if they tried to sell them!

“Carriers have motives to favor some smartphones over others. Verizon and its rivals all pay much heftier up-front subsidies for the iPhone than for other devices. Verizon is also trying to ease congestion on its 3G network by promoting its more capacious and more efficient 4G service,” Gold ‘It’s all about the 4S now,’ one AT&T rep said over the phone, unprovoked. ‘The iPhone is the most popular phone, you know what you’re getting, and it’s a status symbol you can’t get anywhere else.'”

MacDailyNews Take: Here’s what happens when you actually do try to sell iPhones: 78% of all smartphones sold by AT&T last quarter were Apple iPhones.

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Fear.

And, while they’re right to be afraid, they’re wrong to shackle their customers to inferior devices just to try to stave off the inevitable.

Verizon, steering your customers wrong in the interest of self-preservation is just plain bad business.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “GetMeOnTop” for the heads up.]

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  1. According to Gruber, those 3 Android devices,

    “In each of the 10 discussions, representatives steered me toward either the Motorola (MMI) Droid Razr Maxx, the Droid Razr, or the LG Lucid — all 4G-capable phones running Google’s (GOOG, Fortune 500) Android software. When I asked if those devices were better than the iPhone, they responded that the iPhone was an inferior alternative because it only runs on the company’s slower 3G network”

    all are running an OS that was released in Dec 2010, Android 2.3. Why run an “inferior [OS] alternative”?

    1. I totally agree about verizon. I switched to FIOS and the customer services reps have lied to me about packages and when I called them out about their reply was “is there anything else I can help you with?”

    1. Exactly. Are the sales people getting spiffs per sale?

      or all they all just pissed off droid-weenies bitter about fragmentation and next to no tablet market share.

  2. Quite frankly, AT&T is just as scared of the iPhone’s success as Verizon. And if there is any truth to the idea that Verizon is trying to steer customers away from its slower 3G (congested) network, that makes sense.

    We haven’t used Verizon iPhones. And we have been using iPads on AT&T as well. Though we regularly use the new third generation iPads on AT&T, we were asked to evaluate Verizon’s LTE iPads this week. In areas where LTE is available, we get speeds that range from 5 Mbps down to 26 Mbps down. But in non-LTE areas, it drops to a painful 300 Kbps down using the EVDO (3G) network. It is slow and apparently congested.

    Since the Verizon iPhone uses that 3G network, I would never buy it. It may be great for voice, but horrible for data. And let’s face it. People buy smartphones in part for the data. Verizon likes having the Apple product, but it is on that horribly slow network.

    I suspect that dynamics may change a bit when there is an iPhone running on their 4G LTE network.

  3. One of my sisters-in-law went into an AT&T store in early January shopping for an iPhone 4S. They were out, so the guy tried to talk her into getting some sort of hemo-droid phone instead. Didn’t tell her to go to an Apple Store and find one there.


  4. “Verizon, steering your customers wrong in the interest of self-preservation is just plain bad business.”

    It’s not plain bad business…it’s pure corporate stupidity.

  5. When the first iPhone came out, I went to the AT&T store to buy one. They said they didn’t have any, so I said “goodbye” and started to leave. Then they asked which one I wanted. I told them, but they didn’t have that memory size in stock. It was the only customer there, which was right for the time of day. I found out that they got a commission on the phones, but not on the iPhone.

    When I was in retail and they wanted to push something, they gave us a “spiff,” which was an extra amount on top of the commission.

    I suspect that’s what’s happening here. They are getting commissions and spiffs for Androids, which the manufacturers are desperate to sell, but none for iPhones. They naturally steer people to Androids, because their income and advancement depend on their sales.

  6. This is why I’ve never once considered trying to buy my iPhone from the carrier. In fact, these kinds of stories make it even *less* likely I’d ever do that. It’s almost like these carriers are *trying* to push their customers away to their local Apple Store instead.

  7. It makes sense that carriers want to push 4G service since it’s new. I’m sure glad that Apple has its own retail stores because they can’t get stabbed in the back selling iPhones through their own stores. I guess Apple can also be blamed to some degree for not yet having 4G smartphones.

        1. No. The 4G standard remains exactly the same. What has changed is that the marketing morons were given ‘official’ permission to call 3G “4G”. It’s that simple. But let me quote what is stated at Wikipedia:

          The technical definition of 4G was set in March, 2008. The peak speed requirement was set at 1Gbit/s for pedestrian use, 100 Mbit/s for trains, cars, etc.

          Since the above mentioned first-release versions of Mobile WiMAX and LTE support much less than</b? 1 Gbit/s peak bit rate, they are not fully IMT-Advanced compliant, but are often branded 4G by service providers. On December 6, 2010, ITU-R recognized that these two technologies, as well as other beyond-3G technologies that do not fulfill the IMT-Advanced requirements, could nevertheless be considered “4G”, provided they represent forerunners to IMT-Advanced compliant versions and “a substantial level of improvement in performance and capabilities with respect to the initial third generation systems now deployed”.

          ITU-R stands for International Telecommunication Union – Radio.

          Its role is to manage the international radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbit resources and to develop standards for radiocommunication systems with the objective of ensuring the effective use of the spectrum.

          The result is that for marketing purposes, faster versions of 3G would be allowed to be called ‘4G’, even though they did not qualify according to the technical definition.

          So what do you call REAL 4G, once is available? 5G? Obviously, all the current ‘4G’ mobile services are only 3G by definition. Marketing people don’t care. The ITU-R caved and said they didn’t care either. Whatever. Meanwhile, the technical definition of REAL 4G stands.

      1. You do know that the the only thing different about your mobile connection is the change from the 3G logo to 4G. You are not getting a faster connection. AT&T has a faster 3G network then Verizon so they convinced the government to allow them to refer to it as a “4G” but it is not a real 4th generation Internet.

        1. The iPhone 4s can utilize HSPA . That is AT&T’s 4G. LTE is faster but HSPA gives you speeds equivalent to a 4G standard. iPhone 4 just uses HSPA.

  8. Hmmm, it’s OK for Apple to make a huge profit but not OK for the carriers to make a much smaller profit.

    It’s just good sense for Apple to go for profit over market share, but it’s also good sense for the carriers to go for market share over profit.

    The iPhone and all of it’s money generating wouldn’t exist without the carriers, but they aren’t equals in this partnership. Apple makes money out the ass and they are awesome, but the carriers don’t give away everything and they are evil.

    Some might consider this a double standard.

    1. Usually the incentives for the sales people (spiffs and whatnot) come from the manufacturers. Verizon’s not a bad guy, the manufacturers are desperate guys,

    2. If Apple hadn’t come up with th iPhone, the carriers would have been much worse off. It has enabled them to sell boatloads of data plans that no one would buy for a clunky old generation smart phone. I beieve they got only $15 a month for a RIMM data plan. There would have no reason to upgrade for many. I still use 3 to 4 years Samdung slider phone since I use it mostly to stay in contact with my wife and I have a iPod touch 3 and an rG iPad. I can use skype of magic jack apps in a crunch.

      That being said, I plan to get the next gen iPhone (5th anniversary) iPhone for my son because his birthday is on the original iPhone sale availability date of June 29. I will also be getting one for myself as all of my phones will be off contract.

      1. I would expect the next update to come in October or a similar time frame to line up with the holidays. I would be very surprised if they released a new one in June.

    1. The solution is to go to an Apple Store and buy an unsubsidized phone. Then shop around for a reasonable prepaid solution for both voice and data.

      In the long run, subsidized phones tend to be much more expensive to use because of the stiff contract payments.

  9. Oh and Verizon? You’re LIARS.

    Verizon is also trying to ease congestion on its 3G network by promoting its more capacious and more efficient 4G service

    It’s ALL 3G. By the end of 2012, when ACTUAL 4G is available on the planet, won’t you feel like the blithering idiots you are.

    What is ACTUAL 4G instead of marketing-moron deceit ‘4G’?
    4G @Wikipedia

  10. Seems to me that most people who want an iPhone will buy it from an Apple store or from Apple’s online store. The only reason to go to Verizon or AT&T for an iPhone is that they often have a much shorter line on the day a new model is launched.


    1. not always the case…
      If I got my 4S from apple i would had to pay full retail.
      I went to the AT&T store and got it there, renewed my contract for 2 years.

      The ape store screwed up my moms 4S activation, then told her shed have to go to an AT&T store to fix it (we did).
      The apple store can only do so much with your line, if you are not quite able to get it at the full subsidized price… Apple can’t help you. AT&T/Verizon can work with you.

      I got my 4 from apple cause my contract was up, the 4S would have screwed up my unlimited plan… And forced a full priced iPhone..

  11. people defending Verizon have to think about this:

    if they are pushing alternate phones as ‘better’ when they are not (many Android 4G phones have less battery life, loaded with older OS software, will not have proper support like timely OS updates, loaded with crapware etc) because Verizon gets ‘more money’ .. is that good or ethical?

    Just like when you go to pharmacy do you want the best medicine or the one the pharmacist ‘gets the most profit’?

  12. My cousin works for Verizon, and I know for a fact that salespeople basically get in trouble for selling too many iPhones. He is apple to the core, and every time he has to push one of those androids, his soul dies a little bit.

    1. Verizon is a wretched company and I’m not surprised they want to sell hideous iPhone knock offs to punish their hapless customers. Your cousin needs to try to find a job where he doesn’t have to compromise himself and his beliefs.

      An Apple fan working at Verizon is like a Jew working on a pug farm.

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