Gartenberg experiences carrier anti-WP7 bias, 'Tattletale site making progress

We've been covering the seeming anti-Windows Phone/Microsoft bias that local carrier stores have been exhibiting for awhile now--namely that sales reps are giving the shaft to WP7 and instead are pushing Android or the iPhone, sometimes even with falsehoods or misinformation.

To validate the issue further, tech-guru and Gartner industry analyst Michael Gartenberg has recently experienced this behavior first hand. From Twitter (1, 2):

"At VZW and ATT stores to compare plans, both steered me to iPhone and Android devices...In both stores when asked about #WP7 was told "you don't want that". In one instance was "corrected" & told it was called Windows Mobile"

Yikes. Seems it's not too hard to get a bad sell on Windows Phone these days, despite the promise of "Mango". In reaction, Apple guru John Gruber of 'Daring Fireball' fame, sympathetically noted "This sort of dismissive treatment can be devastating to a platform. This was the problem facing the Mac during the ’90s.". Indeed. There's a certain irony here.

However, there is some good news here, namely that all of this attention and the website Windows Phone Tattletale has perked Microsoft's ears. The creator of 'Tattletale, Robert McLaws. Tweeted this just recently: 

"Just had a fantastic conversation with someone at Microsoft about #wp7 #retailfail. Great things are happening. Stay tuned!"

Followed by

"By the way, Microsoft has heard all your reviews loud and clear. You *are* making a difference, so please, keep secret shopping!"

Perhaps Microsoft will start using some leverage on their carrier partners for better results? Clearly these aren't isolated cases, but signs of a larger problem that Microsoft will have to battle. At least the giant appears to be finally flinching. All we know is Microsoft better have a serious game plan for this fall and "Mango", after all, it deserves it.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • my co worker called me two days ago and she said she wanted the HTC arrive from sprint, then I told her that when you go to the stores, agents will basically talk **** about wp7.. Sure enough one sprint store agent told her that, We haven't sold one yet, and he said that the phone is impossible to use and very hard... Lol. She went to another sprint store and the HTC arrive was off and they refuse to charge it... She end up getting the Samsung nexus 4g... I dont blame her, there's 1 wp7 phone in sprint... I told her good luck...
  • If you talked positively about WP7 and she decided she wanted the Arrive (which has a keyboard), why did she get a Samsung Nexus 4G (which doesn't have a keyboard)? It seems as though the Nexus is what she wanted all along, because at the end of the day, no one (salespersons included) can make you purchase something that you don't want to. If she really wanted the Arrive, and if she felt the sales staff wasn't helpful, all she had to do was to go home and order it online (which would have been better because neither of the sales people would have gotten a commission).
  • The thing is, WP7 is good mango will make it great but unless MS works with sales reps and carriers it will fail in sales.
  • The simple fact is that those sales people who try to sell you something else you haven't asked for are taking a cut for it. It's well known and has been done for years. I bet they get a nice little pirk for each iPhone or higherend droid from the carrier or phone maker. If I got a sales cut of $20-$50 per iPhone i'd try to sell as many as I could as well. MS should just do the same and watch this bias vanish overnight, no questions asked.
  • No doubt commission may be a factor but with the iPhone you basically don't get anything. You ever see huge Apple discounts? Nope. Carrier and sales people get ripped on Apple products...but. They want to make sure they get a contract out of you and lets be honest as much as we both disagree with it the iPhone has the most mind-share and is the easiest to sell.
  • There was some Sprint training document that was shown here recently (either here or Android Central) and the highest spiffs were for phones that were the least popular - ie $10 extra per Arrive and Echo sold. I'm sure the carriers have lower spiffs for the more popular phones that sell themselves (ie iPhone, superphone Android devices). But since they're easy to sell, reps will take the easy route every time.
  • @PhilR8...what you say makes sense, but it still reflects lack of professionalism on the salespersons part in that, when a customer comes in specifically requesting a WP, they try to steer folks away from it. A specific request is the easiest sale - there is no effort other than to 'ring them up' at the register; not to mention that they basically save themselves some time - time they could use to actually sell a product to someone who 'doesn't' know specifically what they want in a phone.
  • Let's be honest here. Most carrier sales folks are 18-26 years old, and are not professional at all. There are exceptions of course. But the vast majority are biased, and look to make the quick sale.
  • The quick sale would be to sell a WP7 device to someone who asks for it. But I guess store reps are too biased and ignorant to realise that.
  • @GP07...I disagree - I don't think that Microsoft should have to pay ATT/Sprint/Verizon/TMobile staff to do their jobs in a professional manner; nor do I think that Microsoft should have to pay said staff to sell a HTC/LG/Samsung/Dell manufactured phone. The carriers are responsible for incenting their staff to move products that the carrier paid full price for (regardless of the product)to recoup their investment; and the OEM's are responsible for making compelling, functional, attractive looking devices that will visually appeal to consumers.
  • In Europe WP7 is the most recommended platform ( although not yet that popular ). Many people don't like the iPhone because it's overpriced, and even the European Commission review Apple product very badly because of integrated battery and 1 year warranty ( in Europe, 2 years warranty for every product is a MINIMUM. Usually it is 3 years ). And by the way, most of the people i know loved WP7 once they tried it. So i think that's the problem - people have no opportunity to test-ride the platform. And not everyone can decide upon internet reviews.
  • Microsoft has to get in there and give out loaner phones to sales reps so they can have some experience with WP7. if you just sit down and compare OS's side by side in their current form, WP7 will lose everytime. The beauty of WP7 is its usability which you can only understand and appreciate by actually using it. Once sales reps have a better understanding of how WP7 works, i think they will have more confidence in selling them.
  • My own anecdote: I was at a wedding this past weekend and was sitting next to my 16-year-old male cousin. The ceremony was about to begin so I fished my Arrive out of my pocket to power it down. My cousin saw my phone and said, "oh, Windows Phone." He said it not in a derogatory or negative way, just a way that showed recognition. I said, "Yeah, this phone is great." He then fished his brand-new DroidX out of his pocket and said, "I really like the look of Windows Phone, but when I went to the Verizon Store, the sales guy told me to buy this instead." He didn't seem sad, because he seemed pretty satisfied with Android (and he said the DX was only $50 and he was using his own money), but he also would have been very satisfied with a Trophy.
  • I experienced the smartphone bias last year December when I was shopping for a WP7. The retailer at Rogers didn't even know how to turn on the phone from the lock screen. It was sad to watch. At Bell, they kept directing me to the iPhone and Android phone. If I hadn't done my own research on the phone I wanted, I'd probably have one of those phones today. I know when I got my WP7, it was early in the game and it was a new device on the market, but to read and hear that this is still going on is a clear indication that the carriers don't care about Microsoft. This happened to Palm and I hope MS learns from that phones experience that they have to do something fast before their platform slips through the cracks. I'm sure though, that MS is on it, and will fix it---they've invested too much into this platform to have carriers mess it up for them.
  • It's not commission. Wireless Vet keeps saying that, and I have no trouble believing him. These guys aren't working on commission.It's a matter of three factors:1) The wireless companies aren't pushing WP7. They aren't advertising it, they aren't giving it space in stores, they aren't training on it and they aren't giving their associates marching orders behind it. 2) The associates, in part due to the above, just don't know anything about WP7 and see no reason to correct their ignorance and biases. And let's be fair, here, they are going to have biases. Every single person here, if put in the shoes of the wireless associate, would probably steer people towards WP7. Why? Because you think it's a fantastic OS, personally use it and love it. So of course the guys in stores now that personally use and personally love Android are pushing people towards it.3) Microsoft just isn't cool. Let's face it, it's not. It's considered a stogey has-been that can't do anything right. This factors further into the above. I used to have a friend that worked in a record store. Any time someone would come in looking for Korn or Limp Bizkit he'd tell them that those bands suck and try to get them to listen to "real metal." Guys, let's face it - Microsoft is the Limp Bizkit of technology to most people. Maybe they're the Limp Bizkit that just released The White Album, but few people will care so long as it has Limp Bizkit stamped on the front.Microsoft has an enormous amount of work to do here, but it isn't just with WP7. Xbox took a very long time to be accepted at first, as gamers didn't want something with "MICROSOFT" sitting near their TV. The Microsoft brand is even more damaged now, thanks to the brilliant marketing work of Apple and, to a lesser extent, Google. Xbox hasn't done much to stop that, and losing someone like J Allard has certainly hurt behind the scenes. But your standard wireless phone associate isn't a serious techy, he's just a normal consumer electronic fan, and in America your normal consumer electronic fan thinks Microsoft is pretty much what everyone used to consider Buick, Oldsmobile, Plymouth and Pontiac.
  • Disagree with some of this. Someone else commented here (or another story) about a sprint memo detailing commissions for selling particular phones, its been mentioned elsewhere for other carriers so why would Verizon be different?The carriers definitely do not care about WP7 and are not providing the support for it, no question. However that does not excuse the lies and misinformation some store reps are spreading. Rather than lie why not just say you havent used it and maybe demo the phone if someone asks for it? Personal bias or not there is no need for outright dishonesty especially when someone asks for WP7 specifically.Microsoft is cool enough to sell 10 million + Kinects and have the Xbox outsell the PS3 and Wii for the past 10 of 11 months. There definitely is a perception problem but not enough to justify the blatant lies and misinformation that store reps around the world are displaying. Microsoft has work to do but so do carriers and store reps who need to be honest and professional in their work. Not giving the customer all the information honestly should not be tolerated.
  • Also, whoever at Microsoft is responsible for overseeing a huge, overarching corporate change has my dream job. Bob Lutz just released a book about how he did it at GM. GM used to have ludicrous rules about how they built their cars. They had even worse design rules, trying not to make a coherent car but rather a coherent platform, so you had 15 cars that looked awful but looked awful in the same way. Bob Lutz changed that, and the cars coming out now that are receiving positive reviews (for the first time in ages for GM) are his brainchildren.Microsoft needs a Bob Lutz. I'm available, by the way, haha. Want an innovation guru with experience shaking things up in large corporations and a love of technology? This guy!
  • I want to tell this apple guru that the imitation is off. where could you buy a macintash in the 90s? if you did find a store that sells macintash, the store is pretty much an apple fanboy (they were apple enthusiast then). They would bash everything from msft. This apple guru is obviously fond of this specific situation with WP7. I would like hear from him a year from now.
  • MS better jump on that as this is one of the main reasons that webOS failed. Horrible marketing and the sales staff not knowing **** about the phones.
  • This is huge for MS. I personally have had recent experience with Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint whom I now have. Verizon employees in the local stores have ALL made claims that Win7 phones are not safe and all your personal information will be easy to obtain, when asked they couldn't make any logical sense why they believe that. iphones and some of the HTC android phones were shown. On the phone Verion employees didn't even know the Trophy existed. At t-mobile the employees present both mimicked each other stating 'you don't want that we get returns all the time, and it will be discontinued with zero support. Get an android.". At Sprint the employees just didn't even know it existed! This is where I decided to switch to and buy the phone and the gal couldn't even turn it on, and she was supposed to 'link', set up my email. I told her I knew how to do it because I had t-mobile for a couple weeks and had the hd7. I eductated HER on how the OS works. Just sad. I would rather the employee be like the gal at sprint and just not know than the Verizon and T-mobile experience where they made false claims and bashed the OS.
  • Purchased the HD7 the day after it was released. Went into the local T-Mobile store, and asked about Windows Phone. There were no WP's on display. When I asked to see a device, the response was "I think we have one charging in the backroom" After about 5 minutes, the rep returned with the phone, but his knowledge of the platform could fit in a thimble with lots of room left over.With this lack of support from the carriers, I am surprised MS has sold as many WP's as they have if my experience is any indication of the overall support from US carriers.