Monday, April 28, 2008

The role of sales

I am only 17 mins into tonight's Dispatches, but its already really annoying me.

Is it unique to Britain that we seem to think sales men are there to look after us? Why do we expect to walk into any commercial store and be told how to save money? Do consumers (and in this case Channel 4) not understand the difference between the role of the company (making money for its shareholders) and the role of the Citizen's Advice Bureau or other such organisation??

On walking into Carphone Warehouse, Phones4U or similar, I fully expect the sales man to tell me whatever he needs to sell the package that makes him the most commission. My role in the encounter is to be a savvy consumer who has taken the responsibility to do a bit of research ahead of time. Its not like sites like MoneySupermarket aren't all over the internet screaming at me that they will help me find the best deal. Its not tricky to work out that an 18 month contract lasts 18 months... and any enterprise handing you cash over the counter (cash back) is inevitably going to end up getting it back from you - they are a business not a charity.

Was I the only person who was raised to understand that you need to look after yourself in this world and that you never get anything for nothing?

It just annoys me that these consumers are called "victims" when it is in fact themselves, not the mobile industry, that has been the perpetrator of the crime of stupidity.

POST SCRIPT - it is a misrepresentation to doorstep CEOs of major operators at their largest trade show of the year. I go to Mobile World Congress every year and the CEOs don't even have time to talk to their colleagues between pre-scheduled meetings. Its their busiest week of the year so if you want an interview ask in advance - why are you more important than the journalist that the boss of O2 is already on the way to meet (the journalist who booked in advance...)?

PPS - this is the last I will say on this programme (its making my blood boil) but can I ask where the consumer will be left when the operator goes out of business? You take away their profit from monthly subscriptions, profit from text messaging, profit from voice calls... the operator then has no profit. One of the specialists on the programme actually just said "once the service is up and running the profit margin is enormous..." but crucially didn't explain that these operators are still burdened with debts from setting up these services. Why do the British want our businesses to make a loss?

4 comments:

Jim said...

I haven't seen the programme so can't comment specifically, but agree entirely that its as much up to the consumer to protect their own interests as it is the salesperson to act responsibly.
The principle that the purchaser needs to look after themselves applies not just in the consumer but also the B2B space. Its more important for consumers to protect their own interests as in many cases the salesman only makes a single deal from you and has little interest in your ongoing business (despite what the companies may say). At least in many B2B transactions there is more of an opportunity for ongoing and lucrative relationships which can help persuade the salesman to see the long term effect of each deal.

Cathy said...

Totally agree with you. It was piss poor journalism actually - and rather than achieving its objective of presenting us consumers as innocent victims, it only served to suggest that we were all a bunch of numpties who didn't understand the concept of an EIGHTEEN MONTH (yep that'd last 18 months) contract. All fairly patronising really.

As another annual visitor of the Mobile World Congress, I also know that you can't get CEOs to have an off the cuff chat with you. It's pretty easy to get an interview, even with someone as important as that, if you follow protocol and book it in advance. He'll have known this. I'd say he wasted his entrance fee...and should've instead joined me in the bar up the road, where I could've given him a few pointers on the mobile industry.

Emily Wearmouth said...

I felt rather sorry for the random (although thankfully unnamed) execs who commented on the revenue opportunities for operators at the show. They were right in what they said though, and it is a trade show not a consumer show.

Anyone recognise their client and regret rejoicing that the "secured" Channel 4 at the show?

cathy said...

Unfortunately they didn't swing past any of my clients stands. Mind you, my clients are generally making cash from mobile data at the moment - so may have been slammed by the clueless bastard (sorry).

I did keep my eyes skinned for myself though - but no avail.

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