Sunday, April 25, 2010

Phone shop sharks

Dave's been looking around for a new mobile phone lately. His is now several years old and although there's nothing physically wrong with it, the rate technology moves on means it has been left lagging behind. Since he uses it all the time for work, something with the latest gizmos is pretty much essential.

This afternoon we happened to be passing a mobile phone shop, so we called in. We collared a salesman and explained that we were looking specifically at the new Nokia handset and an O2 tariff because several of the places Dave works can't pick up any signal from the other networks. We asked what their best tariff would be. He ummed and ahhed, said he would have to check with his manager, and sat us down to wait.

After a while the manager came over and the two of them started to ask us a load of personal questions and write the answers on a form. First question was: What's your home telephone number? This always annoys me, because it's quite obvious they don't need it and are only taking it for marketing purposes, so I told him it was ex-directory (which it is) and we don't give it out. After that he asked for Dave's mobile number, our name, our post code, and even our broadband provider. Quite why these details were necessary wasn't explained.

In the meantime the manager was doing his level best to sway us away from Nokia and O2, for some unspecified reason. Were we sure we wanted O2? Were we really, really sure? Why didn't we go for the i-Phone? Because we want the Nokia, I rather unhelpfully replied. Oh, he said. But why do you want O2? By the time we'd explained for the fourth time that we couldn't pick up any other signal, we were beginning to wonder what was going on.

Eventually, after much looking up in books and muttering amongst themselves, the pair of them came up with a quote for the tariff, which was reasonably competitive but not exactly outstanding. The salesman then asked Dave to sign the form with all the answers on it. "What am I signing for?" asked Dave, who's been caught before. "Oh, nothing, it's nothing, just some internal stuff for us," the salesman replied, looking shifty. We read the form. It turned out to be an agreement that we would purchase mobile phone insurance from them. Dave promptly ticked the 'no' box, but signed the form.

The next time we turned round, we found the salesman quietly filling in a load of other 'yes' boxes on the form, that quite patently didn't apply to us - but that would have been covered by Dave's signature. I asked for the form back and changed all the 'yes' ticks to 'no'. I then turned the form over. In small print on the back, it said 'by signing this form you are agreeing to let us contact you for marketing and research purposes, and to let us sell on your details to related companies and other businesses for marketing purposes' or words to that effect. On a form that was supposed to be 'nothing' and 'just for internal stuff'.

Needless to say we walked out of the shop without buying a phone, and the whole experience left us feeling grubby and used. What a difference from the O2 shop we visited a few days ago for a similar quote, where they told us the various tariffs without taking so much as our name and were friendly and polite throughout.

I very rarely 'name and shame', but Phones4U Kings Heath branch, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

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