An audit of several carrier stores in Queensland revealed that the worst offender was Telstra who in two of their stores at Robina and Pacific Fair on the Gold Coast had the new HTC One M9 which is retailing for over $1,000 on show but not powered up.
Vodafone also failed to demonstrate the device properly while Optus staff did not have a clue about the new $999 device.
The HTC One M9 is a premium top of the range smartphone that is encased in a stunning new metal body but at Telstra Robina both demonstration models were trussed up like dead chucks with an ugly black plastic band wrapped around the device.
Neither device that was in a premium position at the front of the store was on.
When staff were asked why the black band was wrapped around the device staff said it was to stop people “stealing” the device.
When it was put to the store’s manager that this was a premium smartphone that needed to be seriously demonstrated he said “What’s your problem”.
When I pointed out that HTC was spending millions driving consumers to their stores only for consumers to get a bad experience I was told that I had an attitude problem.
At the Vodafone store in the same shopping centre the HTC M9 was also on display. Instead of being trussed up like a dead chuck their device on display was dead. When I plugged the device into the attached charger it started to charge.
Again staff were too busy flogging prepaid to give me information on the Galaxy S6 Edge or the HTC One M9.
At the Optus store the HTC 9 was not on display.
When I asked the shop assistant for details about the HTC M9 and the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge which the store is taking orders for ahead of the device going on sale the assistant said “I only work Saturdays I don’t know anything about these devices.
When I asked for someone to help me with information he said “I am sorry we are all busy”.
The situation was not much different at Pacific Fair when none of the major carriers could give me information on the new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge despite all three carriers now taking orders for a device that will sell for $1,500.
This problem is not at a store manager level problem it’s a senior carrier management problem because nothing has been done to differentiate the dmarketing between a $1000 smartphone and a cheapie house brand basic phone.
Both HTC, Samsung and Apple are now developing premium products, however carriers like Telstra are still trying to sell a $1,000 premium smartphone the same way they sell a $125 house brand smartphone.
There is no point of difference between premium and cheap bottom end prepaid phones in a Telstra Optus or Vodafone store despite organisations Telstra raking in tens of millions of dollars from the premium smartphones they sell.
These are the same Companies that are asking vendors to spend tens of millions of dollars driving traffic into their stores only for some dim wit sales person who is more interested in the day ending than selling a $1,000 smartphone.
This year, this will become an even bigger problem for vendors who are now rolling out some seriously expensive smartphones and attach devices.
This will be an even bigger problem for carriers especially when Apple rolls out their premium smart watch range later this month with some models costing up to $14,000.
Apple has already made the decision to not let carriers sell their premium smartphones for the simple reason that the carriers cannot demonstrate a premium product.
While Telstra are banging on about moving into the health care market it appears that their senior management have not worked out how to differentiate premium from cheap.
Nor have they worked out how to secure products in stores while also presenting a premium look.
Also lacking is any point of difference marketing.
Take the HTC One M9 this device is packed with new features, from the premium camera to new scratch-resistant coating, machine drilled buttons and a sapphire glass lens on the rear camera.
The power button is now on the side instead of the top, it has a textured finish so you can feel the difference next to the smooth volume buttons.
Then there is the new High Res Dolby Audio sound system which most smartphones don’t have today. The built-in speakers sound amazing offering the best experience you’ll find on a smartphone.
But despite all of these new features not one carrier staff member out of six I visited were able to communicate the difference between the HTC One M8 and the new HTC One M9.
As for the new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge the only features that sales staff were able to communicate was that the Edge had a dual slopping edge display screen and that a double click of the master control button bought up the camera.
At the Dick Smith store in Robina the Samsung sales executive was able to give me a full run down on the new Samsung Galaxy S6 and the Edge.
He even said the new Edge would sound brilliant when hooked up to the new Samsung headphones.
Now that is what retail selling is all about.
Meanwhile at the JB Hi Fi store both in North Sydney and Robina I got a full rundown on the key features of the HTC One M9.