Verizon Reps Pushing Customers To Buy Android Over iPhone Too? [Updated With Verizon's Response]

Verizon Reps Pushing Customers To Buy Android Over iPhone Too? [Updated With Verizon's Response]

Is Verizon intentionally steering customers away from Apple’s smartphone?

A report this morning claimed that AT&T employees were being instructed to push Windows Phone and Android smartphones over iPhones to customers. Not only that, but the report claimed that employees are being forbidden from buying an iPhone as a company-owned device. AT&T later released an official statement in a poor attempt to clear the air, saying “The idea that we would steer any customer away from a particular device couldn’t be more farfetched.”

Several readers have since shared their experiences of AT&T reps pushing Android phones over the iPhone, with one even noting that a buddy who works at AT&T gets more commission on Android smartphone sales.

According to a new testimony, it appears that Verizon may be also instructing/incentivising its reps to push other smartphones over Apple’s iPhone.

Updated with Verizon’s response below.

Jeff Stern shares his experience of visiting a Verizon store:

  • “They released the iPhone 4S because Steve Jobs died so they just threw in a couple more features and pushed it out.”
  • “Apple’s servers are really small and when you use Siri it normally redirects to Google anyway.”
  • “Every icon looks alike on your homescreen and it’s really hard to find applications.”

All things I heard salespeople say in the 40 minutes I was there. I’m certainly not an Apple fanboy. I was in your store to buy an Android phone. But you’re really trying too hard to steer people away from the iPhone and I’m not the only person that’s noticed it.

Stern admittedly visited the store to check out the latest Samsung Galaxy phone, but his experience with the store reps is pretty disheartening. In his open letter to Verizon, Stern says, “You’re making it sound like Apple isn’t a mobile competitor anymore and your unanimous distain for their phone doesn’t help the trust between you and I.”

Let’s try an experiment. Visit your local AT&T and Verizon store and pretend to be interested in buying a new smartphone. Don’t show bias towards a particular kind of phone, whether it be Android, Blackberry, iPhone, etc. Just ask questions that any normal person would ask. “What makes this phone better?” “Why does it cost less?” “Is there a new one coming out soon?” “What if I’ll only use it for…” and so on. For another approach, try visiting the store as a potential customer who’s set on buying the iPhone. See what kind of phone the store reps try to push.

If you’ve had the kind of experience Stern is talking about in a Verizon or AT&T store, please let us all know in the comments.

Update: Verizon responded to our request for comment:

Verizon Wireless representatives are trained to help customers choose the device that best meets their needs.  We take great pride in offering a robust portfolio of devices that give customers options that range from the most sophisticated smartphones to the most basic handsets.  Our only goal is for customers to leave the store with the phone that gives them the best wireless experience.

The experience outlined in Mr. Stern’s email is currently being investigated because it is not in keeping with our standards and certainly doesn’t represent the behavior of the majority of our store representatives who work in our 2200 stores nationwide.

Related
  • TylerMiller

    For some reason this leads me to believe that this has something to do with the lawsuit between Apple and Samsung.

  • BryanElliott

    I’ve worked for both companies and I can say this first hand that none of this surprises me. This is true to the bone.In my current store, we are encouraged to sell the specific Android devices over the iPhone’s because of the higher commissions involved and I absolutely hate it. It’s such terrible ethics when a customer comes in and wants an iPhone and you absolutely know that it’ll be perfect for them but you risk getting disciplined or fired because you didn’t sell enough of a certain phone.

    - I hate working in for the telecoms but I pride myself on being the most honest sales associate. I make sure my customers get the best no matter what platform. -

    I know from working on the inside that it is SUCH a dirty business going in to a store and buying a phone is such a pain in the ass for both the buyer and the seller. I’ve seen customers get screwed over and oversold on product that they don’t even need.

    I’ve been selling the iPhone since the launch of the 3G and man have I seen some crazy, just outright nonsense coming out of reps mouths.

  • TheStoneJones

    I have had sever friends tell me that they went to the Verizon store to get an iPhone and ey tried to talk them out of buying one. I wassurprisedthe first times one told me this but idealized that it was actually happening when 3 or 4 people told me similar stories. I think it’s rediculous for carrier employees to attempt talking people out of getting a specific device bei it android or an iPhone.

  • imronburgundy

    It’s because Androids can be loaded with Verizon’s bloat plain and simple.

  • Steffen Jobbs

    Apple is unfairly selling too many high-quality iPhones and must be stopped. It’s a two-pronged attack by the court system and the carriers to stop Apple from wielding too much power. The court will allow all Android smartphones to duplicate iPhones as closely as possible. The carriers will make sure that any uninformed consumer who wants an iPhone will end up leaving the store with an Android smartphone in hand. This is all being done for the “benefit” of the consumer so that they have a right to buy cheap and low-quality smartphones. Freedom… Of… Choice. Let’s have none of that “buy American” nonsense and sell them some “foreign” brand. What fun would it be if almost everyone is walking around with iPhones? Right?. We’d all miss hearing, “Android is winning.”

    Hey, if I could make $25 commission on some non-iPhone, I don’t care what the consumer wants. I’m gonna sell him what I want him to have even if it’s some piece of crap. The customer is just a sucker for not demanding I sell him an iPhone. It’s his or her fault for not going to an Apple Store for an iPhone. I’ll just tell sucker that when he buys a bigger Android smartphone he’s getting more for his money because the display is a lot larger and it’s packed with more components. Besides, who doesn’t want the latest super-fast 4G tech which the iPhone definitely doesn’t come with. By the time that sucker leaves my store, he’ll thank me for tricking him into buying an Android device and I’ll be happy with my commission. Baffling a rube with BS makes me a great salesman and I’m so proud of myself.

    /s

  • Steffen Jobbs

    I think it’s rediculous for carrier employees to attempt talking people out of getting a specific device bei it android or an iPhone.

    In order to get a commission, nothing is too ridiculous. If I were a female salesperson, I’d unbutton the top buttons on my blouse and let the male customer get a glimpse of my breasts if I could sell him an Android smartphone for the sake of a commission. The consumer is just a mark for a salesperson. Feeling guilt is a burden for a good salesperson.

  • SOMISxBRAVES

    yes they do. i recently took my sister in to a Verizon store to get her an upgrade. The only phone she wanted was the iphone 4s, but the sales rep kept telling her the iphone has a smaller screen and a non-removal battery. he also said you need to connect to itunes to add movies,apps, and music. so from my experience they are pushing more towards android phones, motorola phones to be exact.

  • gnomehole

    Despite this, the iPhone continues to grow in usage. Pretty good considering the carriers and a thousand cheap Android and Windoze phones oppose it.

    Makes me wonder.. who is really “winning” here? Hmmm…

  • Levi Lee Haines

    When my Dad and I went down to the local AT&T store to get a new phone. He asked specifically for the iphonemvecause I had recommended it. The rep insisted he get an android phone with a larger screen because he “sees iPhones get brought back all the time for exploding batteries.” my mouth dropped. I cant believe they would flat out lie like that to sell an inferior (but cheaper subsidized) phone.

  • ddevito

    For some reason this leads me to believe that this has something to do with the lawsuit between Apple and Samsung.

    Ummm, no. It’s because VZW makes more profit off Android than the iPhone

  • ddevito

    It’s because Androids can be loaded with Verizon’s bloat plain and simple.

    That is 100% true. Sad, but true

  • Tallest_Skil

    OF COURSE THEY ARE. THEY BOTH ARE. I imagine Sprint is, too. I have multiple firsthand accounts of Verizon doing this to me.

    This HAS to be illegal. Screw them both.

  • James Anthony Murphy

    I convinced a friend that she should buy the new iPhone 4S, but she was badgered into buying an Android device by a Telstra sales person. Retail margins have always been tight on Apple devices, so selling Android phones means more commission for the salesperson, and more profit for the telco.

  • Tao Jones

    you young wippersnappers do not remember the days before apple stores when you went into say pc richards or microcenter and looked at the frozen mac with the ball missing from the mouse and the salesman ready to set you up with a nice acer or nakasuemi . the whole reason for the apple store was tactics like this from the friendly sears salesman who wanted the extra bonus PLUS commission on the sale

  • opticalserenity

    Best Buy does the same thing. I’ve watched plenty of people go in asking for an iPhone and they’ll do everything they can to stop you. In fact, I’ve been told by the Best Buy employees that non-iPhones are the best to sell because they’re pushed to sell Geeksquad’s $20 / month policy…and no one buys that on iPhones because they buy AppleCare+.

  • CaptnWisdom

    I was in Boston last weekend, and was having trouble with iMessage. So I stopped in at the Genius Bar in the Apple store on Boyleston street. They couldn’t get iMessage working either on my 4S, and after checking my sim in another 4S they declared it an AT&T account issue. So Apple sent me to the AT&T corporate store a few blocks away on Boyleston. They didn’t know what to do there either, but I got a first hand experience with the switching tactics. I listened in on two pitches to other customers, and they steered both to Android. The most egregious one involved a customer wanting an iPhone 4s. They were told that 1) it would be out of date later this summer and 2) the latest Ice Cream Sandwich Androids are now better and less expensive the the iPhone. The rep said roughly “I have been an iPhone user since the first iPhone, but I personally switched because the new Androids have caught up to and passed iOS in features and performance. I’m now an Android convert.”

  • MrFitz

    I went to Verizon store. Was waiting for my dad to help him get a new smartphone. While waiting, a guy came in and said ” I want to get an iPhone 4S” the employee said that the 4S is old and has a small screen. You would be better off with ( some Android phone) I could not believe it. When my dad got in I told a different employee that he wanted an iPhone. ( I wasn’t sure which phone my dad wanted yet) the guy totally blew off the iPhone and took him over to an android section. I said lets go to best buy where they have most of the carriers and are not as biased against certain phones. The rep looked at me like I stole his wallet

  • Ryan Folks

    The statement from Verizon is simply not true. A friend’s wife went to *specifically* purchase the iPhone 4S, and the rep tried numerous times to talk her in to purchasing a litany of Android phones instead. There are two reasons for this 1) they want to switch people to a 4G phone so they can screw them out of their unlimited data plan, and 2) they don’t make as much off of you over the course of 2 years after paying the subsidies for the iPhone as they would if they sold you a cheaper Android phone.

  • DarkJediNight

    I’ve experience the same in a Best Buy store. The rep was trying his hardest to sell me an Android tablet while down playing the iPad. I just laugh at him and said really? As my friend and I was leaving I said to him, you see the BS he was telling me? My friend was in shock.

  • SevanGrim

    AT&T would be pushing Android because iPhone is no longer their babymaker. They breast fed it to hell when it first came out and was making them all the money, but now that its moving to every company, they are trying to convince people that other less universal phones are it.
    In general, most companies wouldnt want people to buy the iphone over other phones, because they lose allot of money on them. When an iphone breaks, people go to the apple store, which means the major companies have to authorize them to access their network from the Apple stores, which is never something a company wants. Its also means Apple gets maintenance/replacement fees on phones they dont even have to sell.

    Apple had this coming, and its honestly probably a policy AT&T and Verizon always do when they arent trying to convince people to buy the new Iphones on their network. Apple’s terms for working with other companies is always “change everything so it works for us no matter how inconvenient it is”, and no one ever wants that.

  • Dan_0

    Is not this a violation under the RICO act. If this is even remotely true someone is going to jail. Didn’t this already happen in the Access Healthcare Case. If commissions are higher and there was implied or direct input from a Corporate level that means “extortion under color of authority, fraudulent schemes and artifices, false pretenses, promises and representations and deprivation of the right of citizens to the honest services”. This is way bigger of a story then it seems.

  • McIrish74

    This has been going on for a long time. I went into a Verizon Corporate Store over a year ago to inquire about buying a Blackberry, and the entire store dropped their jaws dropped with horror because I said “Blackberry” not Android. They tried like hell to sell me on anything other than what I went there for. So I got angry and left with nothing. A month later, I walked into the same store, and said I wanted to purchase the iPhone 4 (not inquiring or thinking about it, I was there to buy it) and again had to endure a “Sales Rep” trying to sway me away from what I was there for. My advice, do some serious research on the product(s) you’re interested in and know what you want when you walk in, that way you won’t be giving the “Sales Reps” the satisfaction of thinking that they’re pulling an hour long Jedi mind trick on you. They are trained to change your mind if it doesn’t suit them and they are trained to screw you.

  • Bt2184

    Took my mother in-law to the Diamond Verizon store specifically to get an iPhone, they would not stop pushing the Android phones on us, when I left for the bathroom they had her sign the papers for the android. They threw a tantrum when she later returned the Android phone that she couldn’t figure out how to use.

  • matrix3D

    I think these actions by AT&T and Verizon can be explained in just one word: iMessage

  • Krazykrzysztof

    There’s nothing wrong with this. Sales jobs are just garbage slave work like this. It’s all about commission not about what you want to sell unless you’re the boss.

  • Neeraj

    I am not able to understand why a valid and regular business practice is discussed so much here. It is common in business to give commissions to sales people to sell products just like it is common that a successful brands like Apple does not need and want to share its profit margins with the sales people.
    And most of the arguments that these salespeople are giving are true. Android phones right now are better speced than iphone 4s.
    Lets face it that at this point in time android smartphones offer far more value for money than iphone. So now Apple has to either come up with a groundbreaking iphone so that it can justify to continue to be the most expensive smartphone or maybe hope that apple fanboys continue to remain stupid and keep buying iphones.

  • jbolden1517

    My Verizon store has always steered people towards Android since the day Apple announced. There has never been a change. If you come in to buy an iPhone they will be helpful and won’t try and dissuade you. If you come in looking for a smartphone they will push Android over iPhone quite directly. The messaging is: we sell iPhone and Blackberry but we recommend Android.

    I will say I didn’t hear any of the inaccuracies in the article. Its more a question of selective presentation of facts. So they’ll focus heavily on the advantages of 4G, without mentioning the heavier battery drain. They talk about the more open app selection without mentioning the more vibrant app economy on iPhone. My impression is the staff genuinely does believe Android is better and is giving their truthful opinion. It wouldn’t shock me if part of it isn’t the shorter cycle: with Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Sony releasing high end phones the staff probably finds selling Android more fun as they get to change what they are pushing every 2 months or so and each phone’s totally unique features. I get the vibe they are being genuine. Now behavior changes belief and a better commission might lead them to push Android which would lead them (on average) to believe Android is better. Or the phone meme above might play a role, but I don’t think they are secret iPhone lovers when they show me their own phones they are usually Android.

    So in summary:
    a) Yes on the Android push, unquestionably and uniformly.
    b) I see no evidence of a change
    c) I don’t see any attempt to lie.
    d) The sales people seem genuine in their preference.

  • Bruce Schrock

    This is why I tell all my friends to deal directly with apple when buying the iPhone. There is no comparison between Apple and Verizon customer service. It should put Verizon to shame.

  • jonesytaughtu

    I worked for a VZW retailer as a purchasing manager and these stories surfacing are completely true. Verizon pays its retailers a “SPIF” for selling certain android phones. The retailer then turns around and gives the sales rep an added commission for selling the android phone. All calling plans get paid a commission too. When i workrd there, the iphone commission wasnt based on the phone plan. It was actually less than selling a “dumb” phone. Why would a rep want to sell this? The iPhone sells itself but it’s on the customer to stick to their roots about what they really want.

  • Chris_Gold

    This has been going on for over a year now. My wife and I walked into our local AT&T store 14 months ago to switch carriers and also to switch from Andriod to iPhone (we previously had iPhones before the Andriod phones as well). We walked in knowing exactly what phone and plan we wanted. In my opinion, this should’ve been one of the easiest sales of the day. Boy was I wrong…

    After 45 mins of the salesperson sternly pushing an Andriod phone and basically bashing the iPhone in all kind of ways, he finally, very reluctantly I might add, sold us what we came in asking for. I’m no dummy, hell I’m a tech geek in fact. I do my homework and I walk in a store knowing exactly what I want. I was absolutely astonished at the lengths this salesperson went to trying to sell us on Andriod, it was almost disgusting.

    The statements from AT&T and Verizon execs are a complete fabrication of what’s actually going on in the stores and behind the scenes. I can say this with a great degree of certainty as I’ve heard this from quite a few other people. I would certainly tread very lightly if I were AT&T or Verizon. With as much of your sales as the iPhone makes up, you should be careful what you wish for.

  • extra_medium

    Verizon is a business. The iPhone flies off the shelf. They have stacks of Droid Razrs in back. These aren’t like fine wines, if they sit too long, they are worthless. Don’t think too hard about this one, it’s not nefarious.

  • ApplePr0n

    All I’m saying is that I work for a large company that sells all 3 of the main carriers and we too are advised to be honest, but if at all possible, push an Android device because the company gets no money from an upgrade or new activation of an iPhone

  • Dexterdog

    Blah

  • hellohello

    iPhone 4s $100 upfront then ongoing costs vs Galaxy S3 $0 upfront same ongoing costs. I think that made my mind up as I’ve had been told the Samsung was way better anyway. I wanted an iPhone as I already had one 3gs but $100 for what logical reason ?
    BTW this is in Australia which we pay a lot more for anything with Apple on it. Marketing magic and rip-off merchants.

  • Tallest_Skil

    iPhone 4s $100 upfront then ongoing costs vs Galaxy S3 $0 upfront same ongoing costs. I think that made my mind up…

    Wow, you’re stupid. So you’d also choose McDonald’s over a five star midtown Manhattan restaurant? For frick’s sake…

    BTW this is in Australia which we pay a lot more for anything with Apple on it. Marketing magic and rip-off merchants.

    It’s called VAT (or whatever your Aussie equivalent is). Get over it. Vegemite is crazy expensive where we are, so it all evens out.

  • smartwombat

    “The consumer is just a mark for a salesperson. Feeling guilt is a burden for a good salesperson.”
    Which is why I despise them so much.
    Such a salesperson is a bad person.

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath has been a staff writer at Cult of Mac for three years. He is also a co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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