5 Reasons Against Wal-Mart Selling The T-Mobile G110:52 AM EST Wed. Oct. 29, 2008
Today, nearly 550 Wal-Mart stores are expected to start selling the T-Mobile G1, the first smart phone based on the open source Google Android mobile operating system. Along with stocking the device, Wal-Mart " in its continuing bid to offer the lowest prices " chopped $31.11 off the price a G1 buyer would pay at a T-Mobile retail store.
With that in mind, here are five reasons against Wal-Mart selling the smart phone:
1. The price. Yes, it's wise to shop around before spending, but in the case of the T-Mobile G1, buyers who wanted the device right away didn't have an option. It was either pre-order it online or buy it at a T-Mobile store. Either way, the device was coming directly from T-Mobile and carried a price tag of $179.99. Wal-Mart is offering the handheld for $148.88, about 17 percent less than in T-Mobile stores. T-Mobile is bound to get some complaints, and rightly so, considering waiting a week would've saved buyers more than $30 and in these tight economic times every penny helps. The discounted price sets a bad example for all of retail.
2. Service. Are Wal-Mart employees skilled enough to answer the tough questions buyers have about the T-Mobile G1? I don't know. I do know that when I picked up my device last week, the T-Mobile store had a skilled crew at the ready to answer any and all questions from how to sync email accounts to how to add wallpaper. Can buyers expect that same level of service as a national discount department store? When you go to a T-Mobile store, you know the guy who sold you the device is going to be there if you go back in with problem. With the amount of turnover at Wal-Mart, what are the odds of finding who you bought the device from if you have a question next week, or next month?
3. Contracts. To get a G1 for $148.88 (what's with the eights?) users must opt for a two-year contract. What's that mean for existing T-Mobile customers that already have a contract? Are they eligible to get the G1 for the discounted price? Or is Wal-Mart's offer special to new customers? These are all questions I'd like answered before I'm comfortable with Wal-Mart selling the T-Mobile G1. For me, an existing T-Mobile customer, I extended my contract for two years and was slapped with an $18 device upgrade fee. Do the same rules apply at Wal-Mart?
4. It's only been a week. I don't think I'd mind so much if it was a few months later and Wal-Mart slashed the price, but a week is a really fast turnaround time. Why make such dramatic changes right out of the gate? From all that I've heard and read, the G1 has been selling well, so it wasn't really a move of desperation on T-Mobile's part. It took months for the Apple iPhone 3G to branch beyond Apple and AT&T stores for an exclusive retail spot with Best Buy, though there are no discounts to be found there. I think the short time span is what will anger G1 users and device sellers, who are being undercut by the rapid price drop, the most.
5. It's Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart isn't the first place that comes to mind when smart phone shoppers are seeking out a new device. Though I must admit that searching its Web site uncovered a host of cell phones and smart phones for quite reasonable prices. For me, however, I don't even think Wal-Mart would place in the top five. There are a host of other big box retailers that could take on the G1 and have great success: national and regional chains like Best Buy, MicroCenter, J&R and others that specialize in electronics. My opinion has nothing to do with Wal-Mart as a store, but I just can't imagine picking up paper towels, dish soap, a pair of sweatpants and a T-Mobile G1 all in the same place. Call me old fashioned.