AT&T Orders Stores To Give Preferential Treatment To Android, Windows Phones

    August 1, 2012
    Zach Walton
    Comments are off for this post.

The iPhone is still ridiculously popular and stores are happy to sell it. Sure, sales might be down thanks to iPhone 5 rumors, but sales are going to pick back up again in September, right? They might not pick back up that much at AT&T stores, however, thanks to a new company directive.

BGR spoke to anonymous sources working at AT&T stores and found that regional managers are now instructing them to sell anything but the iPhone to consumers looking for a new phone. Here’s how it all goes down: a consumer goes to the AT&T store looking for an iPhone. Instead of taking them straight to Apple’s device, the stores are now instructed to show them Android and Windows Phones so they can make “an informed decision.”

While I think people should definitely make “an informed decision” before buying a phone, AT&T is wrong to make that choice for them. Customers can certainly ask for a store worker’s opinion, but they can’t make the decision for them. Of course, this could all be a way for AT&T to make more money. Apple has been known to charge ridiculous prices for their phones which AT&T takes the brunt of the cost by offering massive subsidies to consumers with contracts.

What’s even stranger is that AT&T has also ordered their own employees to no longer get an iPhone as their company-owned phone. To force an Android or Windows Phone on an employee just seems kind of wrong, but that’s a decision left up to AT&T corporate. If the employee wants an iPhone, they can get one on their own dime.

So has AT&T’s tactics worked? According to BGR’s sources, iPhones sales used to make up about 80 percent of AT&T’s smartphone sales. Now they only make up about half of all sales thanks to these decidedly underhanded tactics.

Apple, of course, would be furious if this turned out to be true. They already have to put up with Android taking up more of their turf. For the competition to get preferential treatment at one of the largest wireless carriers in the U.S. would incur the company’s wrath in ways unseen. We’ve reached out to both Apple and AT&T for comment and will update this story if we hear back.


An AT&T spokesperson just got back to us. Here’s their statement in full:

“The idea that we would steer any customer away from a particular device couldn’t be more farfetched. Our reps do what it takes to align customer needs with the best device for them. iPhone remains one of our most popular devices, which doesn’t happen by steering people away from it. Our reps are encouraged to try all devices so they are more knowledgeable on our industry-leading smartphone lineup.”

  • Steve G

    I don’t blame them. Android phones are way better and keep on getting better. All Apple is interested in, is giving out yesterday’s features, with a few upgrades to the software. The hardware is pretty much old and outdated compared to Android phones. Not to mention that with an iPhone you have to choose from only a few models at a time, where with Android phones just about every cell phone manufacturer is making several models that cover a lot of price points. Apple to me is about conforming to what they want to give you and I see Android as cell phone manufacturers listening to what the consumer wants and giving them options instead of limits.

  • Patrick

    I don’t think AT&T is making the decision for them at all. They are simply giving people a hands on demo of the other technologies. Apple had to lie about Siri’s capabilities to get people to buy their phone. I’d much rather have someone show me a product and make a fair decision than to lie to me.

    • ATTDissGrunTEE

      Well…att lies…nuff said…..

  • Don

    If AT&T brings in a lower margin on a product, or even subsidizes it, it has every incentive to steer users to a phone that brings in a better margin.

    Apple uses its clout to squeeze the carriers. The carriers are going to squeeze back. It isn’t as if Android or the new windows phones, or even Blackberrys, are so woefully inferior to the iphone that AT&T is abusing the customers’ trust or saddling them with a lemon. They are equal products,and Apple needs to treat the carriers as well as Google does, or they will lose market share. Nothing underhanded about that.

  • Rhett Mash

    It’s sad to see ATT stoop down to such tactics. I would be totally annoyed if I went in and asked for an iPhone and was routed to other devices before. Likewise, I would be equally annoyed if I was looking for Windows Phone or Android and taken to an iPhone first. Just give me the product I want. Do I care about Apple fleecing you guys? Why should I? Let’s put it this way, does ATT care about fleecing it’s customers? In the corporate world, every company is an opportunist. Regardless, I personally hate up sell and products being forced down my throat by shady sales tactics.

    Is Steve Jobs was still around, this whole thing would be quite some entertainment for us on the sidelines. He would likely declare thermonuclear war on ATT. Or then again, if he was still around, ATT might think 3 times before trying a stunt like this.

    • ATTDissGrunTEE

      Aymen to that!

  • marv

    I think if this is true, it could be a clue that AT&T may not carry the upcoming iPhone 5, or just simply that the other phones have better margins. If you think they are making a decision for you now, weren’t they doing that when they steered you straight to an iPhone? Whether you believe it or not, it wasn’t about your needs, but because that phone drew you to them, and it was a cash cow in the long run. Ultimately AT&T does not make any decision for consumers, merely tries to open their eyes to other options people may be ignorant about. If the consumer chooses to remain ignorant, or if they feel an iPhone is just plainly a better fit for their individual needs, then they will say so, it’s not a big deal.

  • ATTDidgrunTEE

    goes to show that att could have given as much attention to android back in 2007 but had her head suck so far up Jobs bütt, she cared less. Now offering powerful devices but you cant use them…ha.

  • Jac

    Whoever wrote this article is a moron. Is it fair to force upon their employees an android or windows phone, yes. At the end of the day the employee has no choice with regards to what perks they receive and if AT&T chooses non apple products for their employees they damn well have the right to do that. By the way how about you do a little research as to what profit margins come from each phone and you’ll realize apple is horrendous for them. AT&T is a business and last time I checked businesses like to make money. How about you move to socialist France, maybe you’ll garner a little respect there.