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.”