So I walked into an AT&T store today to check out what sort of Windows Phone hoopla might be occurring.  The whole visit lasted an underwhelming (although not really surprising) 45 seconds max.  So I walk in and I’m greeted as soon as I get there.  Acknowledging that another human being has walked into a 20x35ft space with floor to ceiling windows to see them coming is something that they have managed to get across to their employees.  It’s about the only concept they have a firm grasp on and it’s the grasp of a limp wristed, arthritic, octogenarian with carpal tunnel at that.

When I don’t see any sort of Windows Phone display I am disappointed, but again, not surprised.  So now I want to see what these guys know about their phones or in simpler terms I wanted to screw with these guys.  I don’t like tooting proverbial horns, much less my own, but I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting an AT&T sales rep that could actually tell me anything about (or sometimes even recognize) the phones that they sell.  I’m not saying they’re total idiots because I think they have a vague understanding of what something like Bluetooth is but certainly not anything about how it works.  Every time I ask them a serious question that I couldn’t answer with a quick Google (or Bing, whatever) query is met with the blank sort of stare Homer Simpson wears.  So I go and I ask the girl at the podium who greats people if she knows when the Windows Phone display will go up or even they will be getting the first shipments of Windows Phones to sell.  She says that she has no idea what phones I mean or when any display is going up.  After not answering the second part of my question and seeing my disappointed look at her lack of information she counters with “There’s some sort of reset going on Saturday but I don’t know what it’s for.”  And that is about all the information I was able to extract while resisting the urge to strangle her.

The obligatory AT&T Employee stare

Am I overreacting?  Is it too much to ask that the employee of a store know what is being released in less than a week in their store?  I’m really curious how Microsoft has dumped billions into the launch of this mobile platform and forgot to pay off AT&T to give a damn about it.  Maybe this is an isolated incidence of stupidity.  I’m willing to give it a shot.  Anyone feel like making a field trip and reporting back, go hit up your local AT&T business retailer type place (actual AT&T owned and not some private store) and see what they say when asked similar questions.  Doesn’t count if they already have the Windows Phone display because that shit is impossible to ignore even if you are Homer Simpson.  It’s big and shiny with TVs and touch screens.  Hellen Keller would know these phones were coming out by now.  I see no excuse.

23 COMMENTS

  1. I once learned something from an AT&T girl who was moonlighting gunning for a chemistry degree and that is that if you try to bleach off the red from those little water-reactive strips they ask you to look at underneath the battery, the bleach will cause another reaction which they’d detect too.

    Doubt she didn’t find a better job a long time ago.

    Perhaps Microsoft can make a deal with Apple to get some shelf space in their stores.

  2. In my experience people working at non-retail/non-corporate/dealer stores usually have more information about the devices and sometimes are even passionate about them too. Universally people working at these corporate owned stores are ignorant when it come to devices. They might as well hire parrots and teach them to sing a few choice words. If you are looking for information you are a lot better off running a Google search instead of asking these people.
    I have had an experience where I bought a headset from an ATT store, and came back home to find out that there was a promotion going on for a free basic headset when you buy a premium one. I go back to the store and they know nothing about it, I show them the e-mail that I had received from ATT about the promotion and she still can not offer me the promo. So, I return the headset and drive to another corporate store just a few miles down the road, and they give me a free basic headset with the premium one.

  3. i stopped by today and saw the 3 spaces reserved for their three phones along with an Xbox 360 but no display (monitor). The girl said she was really excited about it and gave me the correct launch date. I was impressed.

  4. I have no choice but to visit at least one, if not two, stores tomorrow and see what I can get my hands on…

  5. My kids had a dentist appointment Monday, and I was very surprised to hear the dentist mentioning he was anxious to look at the new windows phones. I asked him what he used now and he said Android, but he didn’t like it. Several apps would lock up his phone, he wanted something that would work.. He’s with Cellular South, so no fruitfone..

    If THIS guy knows about WP7, certainly ATT employees should!

    I’ll go check our store tomorrow and see what they have….

  6. You don’t know how I’ll probably counter things, Bob Marley.

    My CDMA Nexus One is in your nearest Verizon dealership, they call it Incredible and I understand it’s done quite well (though you need wifi to talk and surf at the same time). My well-selling GSM Nexus One is scattered across the world sold still by eighteen carriers, known as the HTC Desire. Both phones are essentially Nexus Ones, but they were marketed in a conventional manner, not an experimental one.

    Turns out the masses prefer carrier-tied acquisitions, though the Nexus One, if you want to use the word flagship, is flagship in the sense that it’s clear of any trace of carrier influence which becomes necessary when you want to sell a phone intended for developers for which you can put rooting tools, instructions and forums on your own site, nothing but Android on the phone (or Android without the Google packages) unless someone wants to put something in its stead like Ubuntu and no obstacles to push out updates to that phone, a role in which the Nexus One has been and will for a while remain quite expedient. Take a look at the forum traffic on XDA of all other development forums for every other phone and see if you can find me one more active than that of the Nexus One.

    When the time eventually comes to phase the phone out I imagine another phone will emerge that fits that description.

  7. I called a local AT&T store and asked about the WIndows Phone wall display. They said they had it up but there wern’t any phones on the wall. I promptly said thanks and hung up the phone. This morning after getting off of work at 6:30am I made a special trip past the AT&T store to take a look. Sure enough directly acros from the iPhone wall is a Windows Phone wall looking exactly like the pictures Ramon posted in his article. Going to try and stop in and wrestle up a hands-on experience.

  8. @Simmons – So where the hell is your CDMA Nexus One then hotshot? What about your charts and graphs? No comparison between the Nexus One sales and any other phone out there? Because there is no comparison. You talk about companies dragging ass to get a phone out then lets hash this shit out and bring it back to Google for once. Their flagship device sold about nothing and caused a few PR scandals in the process including everything from hardware, software, and customer support. Now you’ll probably counter with the argument that the performance of your phone is its testament to its awesomeness, however, this would be the same argument you ignore when someone else tells you they enjoy something other than the Nexus One. Now I’m not invoking the mobile OS war with you as this is strictly criticisms of your personal phone of choice, but if you feel you need something to bolster your arguments you could throw in some Android stats too. What a shame that’s about all that anyone can do to dig the Nexus One out of its shame. Flagship or not that phone was considered a general mess and doesn’t even represent the face of Android to the mass consumer world. My guess is that almost every Windows Phone device (save the ugly stupid ones, by which I mean LG’s) will probably outsell the Nexus One. :P

  9. I pre-empted your argument to force your creative hand. Sometimes you need a push off from your tired arguments of disdainful superiority. And by your logic, I’ll have a Nexus One come Monday with different software. Let’s look at the specs. 1GHz processor? check. Ram? check. Screen with actual advertised resolution? check. I’ll just be running a different UI than you. Much the same way the Incredible runs Sense, the Moto Droids run Motoblur, and your Nexus runs stock Android. They have different brandings, and they have different carriers. All the same reasons one would argue I will end up with “different” hardware. Weak premise.

  10. jimski: If your professional mindset was predicated on such aggressive seeking of information beyond your group WP7 sales prep training session from your manager you might not be retailing phones, frustrating with having to deal with angry customers bitching at you as you pitch warranty plans on them while fantasizing about having anyone else’s job.

    James: The ones who tend not to be dopes are the ones working in Apple stores which in my city are tourist attractions stuffed with people 24/7 excited to spend money, impressed with the ample amount of friendly and apparently knowledgeable and sometimes attractive salespeople. The people line up and camp around the block every time there’s a new phone. If Microsoft had that instead of just AT&T dealerships and a lot of advertisements I’d think the optimism of this being a smash hit deserves more merit.

  11. lol at “Bob Marley”

    Well Trey Anastasio it sounds like you pretty much described the iPhone verbatim, what you want to have come Monday, though could have had a long time ago. Unified everything, best screen of all time, plenty of horsepower, right blend of elegence, simplicity and functionality, games, the whole nine, minus carrier crap and UI and hardware fragmentation. And a couple more quality controlled apps than what everyone else is offering combined.

    Why didn’t (or don’t) you just get that, Cheech and Chong? Which set of people do you tend to encounter more, people who regret having bought an Apple product or people who for one reason or another use Microsoft products and wish they didn’t?

    Go hand out some misquito nets with Gates with your new clonephone, Cat Stevens.

    Bird brains.

  12. Guess the AT&T folks don’t read the paper cause there was a four page AT&T pullout on Sunday with two pages dedicated to WP7. If my job was predicated on sales I would certainly want to stay informed.

    I even saw a small counter placard for WP7 at Radio Shack on Saturday. The sales clerk didn’t know much about it but it’s something.

  13. Back to topic I was in my local ATT store 3 weeks ago getting a new sim for our backup phone since my son lost his in river rapids ride at six flags. Maybe I got lucky but even back then the person I spoke to was aware of Windows Phone 7, it’s launch date and the hardware that had been announced just a week before. Had to go back in two weekends ago and same staff member had been to a windows phone event the night before and was excitedly anticipating her trial phone which was supposed to be there for her in a couple days (surround) but she also said that in playing with the phones at the event she liked the focus better. Anyway, just saying that not all ATT employees are ignorant dopes.

  14. Just went into the AT&T store across from my office in downtown Boston. You would never know there’s a new line of phones being released. No wall display, no ads, no marketing, nada. I spoke to one of the reps and asked, he said “Yeah, they will go on sale on Nov. 8 or 9.” I asked why there was no marketing display and he just shrugged his shoulders. I then asked if they had any devices in the store, or if he’d been trained. They had no devices, but he said he had played with the “one with the slide out speaker” and the Samsung unit.

  15. What you should be asking to make a trip like this worth your while is how they think the things will sell, even if you had to fill them in a bit on what it was and the promotion to flood behind it (sort of like the Blackberry Torch but hopefully more effective). These guys and gals may not be the sharpest knives but they’ve had plenty of time to see phones and phone lines come and go in a retail setting to develop a good understanding of what the typical consumer gets turned on by and what tends to drift into oblivion.

    But that, from the consensus across the comments here, they know next to nothing about these phones even though they’re setting up display walls for them, that in at least one case they don’t even know when exactly these things are showing up, meanwhile it’s next Monday, I think that’s plenty to read into in terms of how they’d answer that question about how the phones will sell. Think you’d be getting a much different tune if you turned the clock back to a week before the release of a certain AT&T-only revolutionary smartphone, guarantee you they’d have plenty to go on and on about. I’m no market analyst but I think that’s an indicator worth eyeballing. They may know better than we do whether the phone mindshare market or whatever has matured to the point where people only want to buy another Blackberry or another iPhone, or they don’t want to buy the new big thing unless it’s from Apple, whether or not they’re moved by heavy promotion or whatever. Worth doing, if this interests you enough.

  16. dsimmons: It may be a crappy job, but somebody has to do it. And some people, to your surprise, may actually enjoy it. Point is, if my job was to sell phones and phone plans, by choice or necessity, I would at the very least look at the pretty pictures of phones in the newspaper after reading the sport section, or maybe the funny pages. Couldn’t hurt and might actually help my bottom line at the end of the month.

    My AT&T rep (and friend) for the past 5 years has always been very informed, unfortunately leaning heavily on the iPhone. And each of the last four times I went to see him I had to wait a half hour or longer to talk to him cause he was backed up with customers. When I go to see him next week my guess is he will know about as much as I do about WP7, as it should be.

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