Secret shoppers find AT&T stores recommend iPhone to those interested in Lumia 900

Secret shoppers find AT&T stores recommend iPhone to those interested in Lumia 900
While there is some confusion as to just how much money AT&T is sinking into its promotion of the Nokia Lumia 900, we do know for sure that AT&T said this launch with be their biggest ever, so if you walked into an AT&T store today and asked for a smartphone, one would assume the sales associate would recommend a Lumia 900. Right? Apparently that isn’t the case at all AT&T stores.

WMPoweruser has reported that some of its readers have overheard sales people only recommending iPhones to customers who state they are interested in their first smartphone. A senior researcher at IDC visited a few stores in Massachusetts and found all but one associate were unable to articulate what makes Windows Phone different than its competitors. The folks over at CNET checked out several AT&T stores around Manhattan posing as a first time smartphone buyer. They also experienced employees who recommend iPhones first, followed by Android devices.

One associate at a store on the Upper West Side was specifically asked about the Lumia 900 and responded, “Windows Phone is alright, but it’s no iPhone.”

An assistant manager at another AT&T store said, “For your first smartphone, you should get an iPhone. When you get bored with that, you should try an Android phone.”

While this is a small sample of AT&T’s over 2,200 stores, it does raise some questions as to how much of this gigantic marketing budget was allocated toward associate training and generating excitement about the device internally.

"We are working to get as many sales representatives trained as possible and to give each of them some hands-on time with the device," said Senior product manager at Microsoft for Windows Phone, Greg Sullivan, "There are thousands of retail stores and even more authorized dealers throughout the country. Educating all these sales associates is not something that can be accomplished overnight. And we can't get to 100 percent on launch day. But we're making steady progress."

Sullivan pointed out that the success of the Nokia Lumia 900 would not make or break the company. He also said that Microsoft is in it for the long haul and will do whatever is necessary to make it a success.

source: CNET & WMPoweruser

Related phones

Lumia 900
  • Display 4.3 inches
    800 x 480 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP (Single camera)
    1.3 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon S2 APQ8055, 0.5GB RAM
  • Storage 16GB,
  • Battery 1830 mAh
  • OS Windows Phone 7.8
iPhone 4s
  • Display 3.5 inches
    960 x 640 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP (Single camera)
    0.3 MP VGA front
  • Hardware Apple A5, 0.5GB RAM
  • Storage 64GB,
  • OS iOS 9.x



106. sam39

Posts: 1; Member since: Apr 23, 2012

we make away less on iphones which comes to pennies, but alot better on android and any other smartphones including windows, nokia is a windows based device and all windows has the highest returns, customer will never be happy and will leave a -ve feedback, and rep will loose the comm. on the next paystub.etc. but we make better on android as a 1st choice and reps really love it, all kind of free apps and easy to navigate, lmia 900 has already two calls on it, between updates and data would not work in the first week, i think this will be the last chance for nokia to strugle in the smartphone market , so they will do their best even if comes to loosing money. somecustomer walks in , we call -welldonesale-, who has been recommended by someone to buy an iphone, so , sale rep will be a big looser if try to direct the sale to a different direction, they r in love with that not even try. iam making pennies, but itis a good and easy buy. goodbuy

105. CapedCrusaderRobin

Posts: 32; Member since: Dec 19, 2010

according to store reps that i know they push the iphone because it has bigger payouts commission wise. plus the fact the att (as told me by the area reps) wants them pushing the iphone because its a data hungry so they can sell larger data plans to bring in that $$$$.

87. nexumus

Posts: 19; Member since: Apr 09, 2012

As someone who has worked the store and call center front, if a rep tells you to use a phone other than the big one the company is pushing, or tells you politely to go to another carrier, consider yourself lucky to have found such an honest rep. Sometimes the features, pricing, packaging, and coverage can just be better handled by another carrier in your area. Some customers just won't stop calling until their issue is resolved. Sometimes it's nice to have an associate say "look, the company isn't going to fix this or credit this, no matter how much you complain. "

78. je2345

Posts: 63; Member since: May 05, 2009

Order takers sell the iphone. They dont know about the other products they offer so they just stick with the easiest phone to sell and go to the iphone. Come to my store and we talk people out of iphones UNLESS they specifically ask for it and it fits their needs. That's why as salespeople you are suppose to ask the customer qualifying questions to get them into the right device. I will sell anything to the customer with Verizon whether its our Windows 7 HTC Trophy, Palm Pre 2 (when it was available), Blackberry''s, iPhone and/or Android devices. I find that Android devices are much more popular here being that people want the latest and greatest such as a device on the 4GLTE network. As far as commission goes the iPhone is the crappiest phone of them all. I make more selling a LG Revere (flip phone) over an iphone with 2 accessories, but that doesn't mean I'm going to sell every customer a dumb phone over an iphone because I can make more. Please the customer off the bat and referrals will come your way increasing your sales and customer rapport.

77. 7thspaceman

Posts: 1597; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

I have an answer for this problem if you are a person interested in buying a Windows smartphone !=educate yourself go to smart phone websites and find out about the Windows phone 7 series Metro tile Operating system. study windows smart phone reviews at least on 4 different smart phone review web sites 2=After that skip AT and T stores altogether and order it online. you may have to take it to an AT and T store for activation and set up a few things you may not understand but you wont have to listen to any BS from an AT and T store rep about buying an Android or an Iphone some times it's best to cut out store reps. now if you have a strong mind and want a Windows smart phone after you educate yourself about windows smartphones and want one tell the sales rep you want Windows smart phone and are not interested in an Iphone or Android smart if the rep continues to steer you to take you away from buying a Windows smart phone say to the rep "why are you hard at hearing give me what I asked for a Windows smart phone I'm not here to waste time."

75. lubba

Posts: 1313; Member since: Jan 17, 2011

Just too many fanboys out there.

74. DonkeySauce

Posts: 194; Member since: Dec 03, 2011

I was a sales manager in a store until recently moving. Our employees rarely recommended Windows devices. None of the employees liked using Windows, and the few customers that purchased them would bring them back because they were dissapointed in the lack of customization and apps. The very few people that actually came in asking for a Windows phone were usually younger teens that had misunderstood how the Xbox 360 Live account worked with they phone and they thought they could play all of their Xbox games on the phone. I wouldn't recommend it to people because for every phone returned or exchanged within the return policy, I lost points off of my composite score which could cause corrective action, so why take the chance? And it wasn't for lack of training.. Our company and Microsoft shoved all kinds of web courses down our throats, but that didn't change how our customers viewed the phones once they walked out the door.

76. lubba

Posts: 1313; Member since: Jan 17, 2011

Doesn't make sense. Teens are able to purchase phones at your store? Anyway so these customers that came into your store flat out purchased phones without playing or testing? Your Story "story" doesn't make sense. one more thing, your teens are sure stupid.

73. roscuthiii

Posts: 2383; Member since: Jul 18, 2010

I've had a similar experience from a sales rep, although this was at Verizon which I've relayed here before. And I'll do it again. When I was first eligible for my last upgrade some time back I went to a Verizon store to get a hands-on for what was available at the time. "Brandon" was dead set on selling me an iPhone and when I asked why I should choose the iPhone over the phone I'd been checking out, all he could tell me was, "Because it's the iPhone. It's hot." No sale that day.

67. Forsaken77

Posts: 553; Member since: Jun 09, 2011

As far as first time smartphone buyers go, the iPhone is the easiest, idiot-proof phone there is. That should count for something. People that aren't tech geeks need something simple but want full featured as well. I've never used a Windows Phone but I would think they're easy to use as well, but Apple has more behind their phone, like the enormous app store. If the person specifically asks for the Lumia, give it to them. But a non tech savvy customer should stay clear of Android phones. That assistant manager was correct.... if you're new to these phones, try the iPhone until you're comfortable, then move to Android. If you're good with tech than, by all means, show em the high end Androids right away.

72. BattleBrat

Posts: 1476; Member since: Oct 26, 2011

Iphone, simple? Yes. Full featured? ehhhh, not so much....

82. vvelez5

Posts: 623; Member since: Jan 29, 2011

Not necessarily true. My parents recently got into the smartphone game and I showed them all three major OS'. They ended going with Windows Phone because they liked the looks and the ease of operations. They loved the idea that they can put whatever they want on the home screen and the stuff they dont use in the menu. Not saying they didn't like the iphone but they werent blown away by its size and the cluster of apps. But again this comes down to taste and preferences.

66. TheRetroReplay

Posts: 256; Member since: Mar 20, 2012

This is what exactly killed webOS, they did the same thing to Verizon (pre-iPhone) when people were interested in webOS the sales reps would try to sway them to Android or Blackberry.

64. RandomlyPsychotic

Posts: 36; Member since: Dec 29, 2011

i know sometimes more than these "Reps". AT&T should pay me to be a sales associate. One of the guys told me that the HTC Veer 4G was 4G LTE and had a dual core processor. In my head: NO,

58. codymws

Posts: 237; Member since: Jun 17, 2010

Haha, I went into my local Verizon store for an issue with an HTC Thunderbolt, and the guy says "yeah, my AT&T version of this phone doesn't take this long to start up". I'm guessing he was talking about the Inspire. But anyways, it's weird that he'd say he doesn't have Verizon, but works at a Verizon store.... Just realized this has nothing to do with the article... oh well.

57. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

If i work @ AT&T would ask them what kind of phone you're looking for, and what do you use your phone with most. can' t just tell them reccomend a Windows phone show them all the phone you have

53. Republican

Posts: 99; Member since: Apr 05, 2012

Mass firings are in order and long overdue. These low lives can all be replaced by minimum wage homeless people anyways.

50. Penny

Posts: 1876; Member since: Feb 04, 2011

I definitely understand the attraction of recommending the iOS to first time smartphone users. It is easily recognizable, the rep is comfortable with it, it is easy enough for a first time user, and it has plenty of that thing the customer is always hearing about: "apps." That being said, I just wanted to point out some things that I think can be used to make the case that WP7 is an even better option for first time smartphone owners than iOS. Initial basic setup entails: logging into Facebook, logging into your e-mail accounts (gmail, hotmail, other domains), and that's it. You never have to re-enter your passwords or log in again when you are downloading apps in the marketplace, as that is tied to your hotmail (Windows Live) ID. And so many functions are built right into the OS that the customer really does not even need to download any apps to make good use of the phone. Some of the functionality that's built in: Great Search Integration: Music Search (like Shazaam), Visual Search (QR Codes, book/dvd covers, text scanning and translation), Local Scout Good Voice Support: TellMe commands, search, voice to text, text to speech (reads out my text messages to me over Bluetooth when I'm in my car, pretty cool) Great Social Media Integration: Pulls in contacts (optionally) from Facebook, LinkedIn, and any e-mail accounts I set up. Updates statuses and information for each contact from these social networks in the contact book. Also allows you to click on a contact and communicate via FB, LinkedIn, or wherever else you normally communicate with them. Allows you to chat with your friends on Facebook from within the default text messaging app. Allows you to post your pictures to any/all of your connected social networks from within the camera roll. Live Tiles: Just glance to see if there is any new information, don't need to go into everything to see what's going on (true for apps, e-mail accounts, messaging app, Facebook activity, calendar, flight information, etc.) Anyway, my point isn't that the other guys don't offer this functionality, just that the way it is implemented in WP7 makes WP7 the easiest to use when it comes to performing these activities, and I therefore would argue that WP7 is better for first time smartphone users than even iOS.

48. ironmarc89

Posts: 64; Member since: Jan 22, 2012

It takes the fun away from having a windows phone when you look for apps and they arent available but are available on iOS and Android. I'd recommend both because the UI on both is buttery smooth and they are VERY easy to use. (My gf has the Radar with T-Mobile) I'd recommend the iPhone because of the overwhelming support for it in many everyday items

52. Roomaku

Posts: 278; Member since: Feb 06, 2012

Hopefully they can fix that. Still looking for a Pandora app.

45. Veigald

Posts: 290; Member since: Jan 13, 2012

Not at all surprising, but sad nonetheless. Sales reps should sell what is best for the customer. That might be the iPhone, a droid or a WP phone, but they shouldn't let their own bias play into that. The reason for this is that a satisfied customer is more likely to return for further purchases, which increases the revenue per customer and reduces the cost of customer acquisition. On the other hand, maybe it's too much to expect of young people with tech interest to be able to put their personal bias aside for the benefit of their employer?

44. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

Not a surprise.. most reps suck anyways. What's funny was the managers recommendation to start with iPhone then upgrade to Android.. when they were bored Lol

81. vvelez5

Posts: 623; Member since: Jan 29, 2011

Overheard that when I was at the AT&T store I gave the weirdest WTF look when I heard a sales rep say that.

41. Luuthian

Posts: 332; Member since: Sep 09, 2011

This has NOTHING to do with training. It has everything to do with preferences. iPhones and Androids sell. People know those brands and the iPhone is a well regarded device for many reasons. A rep would be harder pressed to sell a WP to the average customer, and really why should he fight that? The onus is on MS to bring their app store up to parity with the other brands, and their hardware in line with modern expectations. You can train a person on how a phone works, but if the phone doesn't blow them away then you've already lost the battle.

60. So-Sayz-Eye

Posts: 31; Member since: Nov 08, 2011

I have to disagree with you a little bit, its not that hard to sell the average person on anything, you just have to make the effort and make sure they are informed. Usually my coworkers come to me when its time to get new phones, I ask them what they want to spend, what they looking for and how they plan to use it. Based on that I make a recommendation. I dont like Apple, but I wont shy away from recommending it if that what I feel that person needs. I feel many of these sales rep just pressure you into getting a phone that they own or know how to operate because that where there knowledge lies. Information is key in sales, lets be honest how many of us would buy a product the sales person knows little to nothing about. We'll either find another rep who does or bypass that product all together.

39. lamaboy

Posts: 6; Member since: Mar 22, 2012

As much as I am anti-Apple, for a first time smartphone user, I would recommend iOS. Is simple as simple can be. I swear it's designed for children and non-tech-savvy people. Then, when you want a real smartphone, you get an android.

37. shadowcell

Posts: 300; Member since: Mar 28, 2012

I'm really baffled by these responses from sales reps and even an assistant manager. Seems like they are trying to reel in commissions rather than help the clueless customer, poorly I might add. Makes me wish I went back into working sales to make a difference at least.

36. cityeighteen

Posts: 40; Member since: Mar 28, 2012

I remember talking with a Sprint Store employee before, and we agreed that we were sick and tired of people only considering the iPhone just because it's the iPhone, while not considering the other (sometimes superior, in my opinion) Android and Windows Phone options. Didn't AT&T say they didn't want to just be known as the iPhone carrier? They need to sell this thing as if it were the next iPhone.

32. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

As a customer who shops for cars, phones, etc., I always go into a store knowing more than the sales associate, then I just play dumb and ask questions to see which one is actually knowledgeable - I actually found a couple in my town. If someone is selling a product, the should ask pertinent questions. You sell to the need of the customer. If you sell to the needs of the sales associate or company, then you are doomed to fail.

31. Roomaku

Posts: 278; Member since: Feb 06, 2012

It's a matter of preference. I know so many people that just want an iPhone and I have even overheard Kids crying because there parents wouldn't get them the iPhone, when they are looking a perfectly good Android phone. For a lot of people it is about symbol, and knowing the brand. I mean I know everyone knows Nokia, but in the US most average younger consumers they know them as that company that makes those old phones, the ones they had 6 years ago, and that's a bad reputation. If I asked most people that live in my area if they wanted a Nokia Windows Phone they would looked confused and say "Windows Phone, I thought that was a computer thing" Dumb answer but it's likely the answer I would get. I for one want a the Lumia 610, I don't need a big screen and am tired of iPhone. However I see why people would like iPhones, it's easy to pick up on and it's made by one brand, there's no variation in product you get a decent device with a lot of app support, a good camera (iPhone 4, 4s) and it's popular, going to a college class you are likely to find most kids have one, even most teachers have them. So that is why I understand At&t employees are reluctant to push something that's just not as familiar.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.
FCC OKs Cingular's purchase of AT&T Wireless