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Buying Phones & Plans: Online vs. Store Dealers

by ty001 / January 8, 2005 2:54 PM PST

Does anyone know what the difference(s) are between buying a cell phone + plan from online dealers (e.g. cellphoneshop.com or LetsTalk.com) and buying from the retail store dealers? I've been trying to find a Cingular phone that's cheaper than what's offered at the stores. Online is cheaper but would I get less quality than what I would get at the retail store?

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Pay the extra and use the store
by canddmeyer / January 9, 2005 4:15 AM PST

Quality is the same. Returns of online purchases, if necessary, is dreadful. Purchasing from the store is my recommendation, plus the store usually has working phones for demo's.

My comments only apply to company stores. I haven't dealt with resellers, so I don't know how resellers handle returns.

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I haven't found any
by Jerry562 / January 9, 2005 5:18 AM PST

working phones for demoing. The last (Cingular) lady told me that if we put my sim into her phone, she would get fired.

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RE: Pay the extra and use the store
by ty001 / January 10, 2005 4:27 AM PST

Thanks. I've dealt with company stores many times and I hate their rip-off prices for phone equipment. I may have to go through them anyway to avoid the hassle of online shipments, returns, and just the uncertainty. Online prices are tempting though...

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Not true!
by jersey / January 10, 2005 9:40 PM PST

Not true! I bought my Motorola v400 + Cingular plan at the same time from an online source. When I had problems with the v400, I didn't have any problems working with either Cingular's online support or a Cingular store (worked with both of them actually). When the problem didn't get better, Cingular sent a replacement phone in the mail at no cost to me. In fact, they also sent a return box, return prepaid label and even a strip of tape to seal the box! Couldn't ask for a better experience. (Cant say the same for the v400 ... I have since moved on to another phone)

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Company owned stores vs resellers
by hh / January 9, 2005 5:03 AM PST

My experience has been very bad with non company owned stores. e.g. Verizon has 15 day return policy, yet a non-company owned strore tried to hose me with the cancellation fee during that time period, I fought it and had it removed. But the experience leaves you with a bad taste, and you don't want to deal with them. What a shame for honest small business owners. Experiences like that leave a negative feeling towards all, but we know there are honest hardworking ones out there. The problem is, no one wants to have a bad experience so they try to avoid the non company owned stores. What a shame!

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RE: Company owned stores vs resellers
by dave1973 / January 10, 2005 1:51 AM PST

I can speak from experience on that with resellers. I signed up for Verizon Wireless service in March 2002 at Radio Shack and was never offered insurance at the Radio Shack store inside Southlake Mall in Hobart, IN. When I lost my phone, Radio Shack tried to charge me more for the same phone I had (Motorola 120c) than what retail was selling it for, $179 versus $225 what Radio Shack tried to sell me the same phone for on an existing contract. And was told insurance wasn't an option with the new phone either. It took a different agent to get me a new phone thru Verizon's Oops plan, which offered the Kyocera 2235 at the time (October 2002), but had to start my contract over with the Oops plan. That experience has kept me away from Radio Shack for wireless service and attitudes from other resellers, plus one reseller selling fewer new phones, but plenty of phones that have been discontinued for 2-3 years now, but selling them at new price is a red flag. That's why I recommend company owned stores the most. You might not always get the best deals, but at least you'll get a sales representative who knows about the service he/she sells, and is more likely torecommend a phone for his/her needs.

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RE: Company owned stores vs resellers / Bluetooth cell> PDA?
by k4s2 / January 10, 2005 4:01 AM PST

Interestingly enough, I spent yesterday afternoon at Radio Shack, then Verizon itself, comparing phones & plans. I bought my current phone, an original Motorola StarTak, from R.Shack 7 years ago...and also the petite PDA that attaches to it & syncs to Outlook. The StarTak still works just as reliably as ever...great signal & features. They had first sold me a Sprint PCS, but I got constant weak signal & dropped calls, so they let me switch to the StarTak.

They also sold me an excellent Warranty plan, doing just what you wanted: full replacement of a damaged phone or expired battery. I got 3 new batteries from the plan before it ran out & I could have extended it, had I paid before it ran out. But, after that, I paid a Verizon affiliate $2.99/mo (now $3.99) for the insurance you wanted. So, there are several ways to do this.'Sorry your salesman didn't communicate well.

So...R.Shack is fine as a reseller, IF you get the Warranty plan...which is only $60 for 3 years!

Now, I'm keeping my perfectly fine StarTak (planning on at least 10 years for it...!) & getting a cellphone for my husband ($20/mo to add him onto my plan). R.Shack has a Motorola V60s (speakerphone)FREE, StarTak being discontinued 3 years ago. But, the Verizon guy said the V60s is also discontinued a year ago & R.Shack is selling final stock! Drat.

The FREE V60s will connect to a $40 Bluetooth attachment for a headset, if desired. But, I want a Bluetooth phone to beam an online connection to my Toshiba e405 PocketPC PDA (for which I would then buy an SD Bluetooth card). Verizon says the bluetooth attachment for the V60s, not made to "speak" to a PDA, will ONLY beam to a headset. Double drat.

Now...can anyone help me get my Toshiba PDA on the Web? It currently has no WiFi or Bluetooth...and I'm reluctant to get the $100+ WiFi SD card for it, as I'm told there is a T-Mobile monthly or daily $CH

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Lucky Radio Shack was good to you!
by dave1973 / January 10, 2005 10:29 AM PST

I'm surprised Radio Shack gave you great service. If you went through the NW Indiana Radio Shack stores, they won't offer insurance, whether through them or through Lockline. When I told a sales representative who tried to talk me into an upgrade what I thought of Radio Shack as a Verizon Wireless reseller, they refused to discuss the issue and told them I will go through Verizon Wireless from now on. They acted like they didn't care. I think Radio Shack shouldn't be allowed to sell wireless service if they're going to have that attitude. I'm sorry, but I absolutely don't trust reseller of any wireless service. Especially one in the same mall I mentioned (Southlake Mall in Hobart, IN) that sells T-Mobile and Cingular Wireless service. The reseller that tried to convince me that T-Mobile is great and said I would be able to roam on Cingular and then AT&T, plus Nextel. Nextel? Nextel uses IDEN, not GSM? The reseller tried to tell me that Nextel uses GSM when they don't. Nextel users can't roam with their phones as they use a standard no one else uses.

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