This month our mystery shopper wanted a smartphone. The handset had to take good photos and video for use on the web and have a decent battery life, whilst allowing the user to type efficiently. He wanted the phone to be free with the contract and for the 24 month tariff to cost no more than £35 per month…
AFTER I explained my needs, the salesman went away and got a colleague, who told me that the Nokia E51 definitely allowed you to view and edit documents, but that they weren’t available any more. “I could ring around and see if there is any stock?” The salesman excused himself and went to make some calls. A few minutes later he returned and said that the Nokia E5 or the HTC Desire HD would do everything that I wanted, although there was no mention of document editing.
Pointing out the Nokia E5 on the display wall, he began: “This one has a 5MP camera and it is very easy to upload your images to the internet; it also has a QWERTY keyboard for easy writing and it is only £25 a month. If you want a bigger touchscreen the Desire has a better camera which is 8MP for £35 a month.”
Digging a little deeper I asked him what allowances the tariffs provided. “The Desire tariff would give you 2,000 minutes, 5,000 3-to-3 minutes, 5,000 texts and ‘All You Can Eat Data’. The Nokia E5 is exactly the same but it costs £25 a month. The ‘All You Can Eat Data’ package really does what it says, there will be no run-on costs at all and you can download as much as you want without getting charged any extra.”
Requesting some take-away literature I was given the February ‘Instore’ booklet, a little out of date but the information was correct. Leaving the store I felt satisfied; the staff had done their best to find out the required information and the tariff was great value.
I ONLY looked around for a few minutes before a salesman offered me assistance. After I explained my needs, he said: “I think you would have to get Documents to Go which costs around £10 in order to edit PDFs and Windows documents. Hold on, I’ll just ask someone.” He asked another senior sales consultant who told him that you could download the programmes from the Android Marketplace and that there was an app called Quick Office which allows users to view and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents.
Walking me over to the range of handsets on the wall, he pointed out the HTC Desire HD: “This is a great phone with an 8MP camera, it has both a flash and auto focus. You will take better photos and because it is an Android phone you will be able to download those two apps to edit your files.”
Enquiring about tariffs, I was told that I could purchase the HTC Desire on Vodafone for £30 a month with 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 500MB of data. On O2 for £35 a month I would get 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 500MB of data and on Orange for £35.75 a month I would get 700 minutes, unlimited texts and 500MB of data. “If you are not bothered about which network, I would recommend you go for Orange as it comes with special offers.”
I asked him if there was any literature, and he passed me an A5 booklet called ‘Open Up Phones’ and dog-eared the page with the HTC Desire HD. “I will write in the names of the apps you need for your documents.”
The salesman was friendly and to the point without bogging me down with too much jargon. He listened to me and tried his best to find a product that met my needs. It was good to see he was willing to ask someone else if was unsure rather than offer an answer that may have been incorrect.
Phones 4U (Concession in Currys)
THE PHONES 4 U concession was located at the front of the store, manned by two staff members who were busy with customers. After about five minutes a third salesman approached me and I explained what I was looking for.
“I would recommend the HTC Desire HD, it’s got…” He scanned the shelf ticket for information before reading out the list of features in a robot fashion. “I will have to double check but I believe that you can view and edit files if you download an app from the Marketplace.” At this point a younger salesman approached and told me that the best handset for viewing and editing all types of files would be the BlackBerry Torch. “If you come and sit down we can go through everything,” he said.
Sitting at a sales desk, he began to ask me different questions to ascertain more about my requirements. “Let me show you what I think would be best suited to your needs.” He then went and brought out the HTC Desire and the BlackBerry Torch and gave detailed demonstrations on both handsets. “The Desire camera is 8MP whereas the Torch is only 5MP, but there is not much of a difference in quality, unless you want to blow the photo up to poster size.”
He took photos with each phone and held both screens up in comparison: “Plus you can get the Torch in white or black.” I asked him what tariffs they came on and he told me that the BlackBerry Torch was £35 a month for1,000 minutes, unlimited texts and internet with a full BlackBerry service. The Desire would cost£37.50 for 800 minutes with unlimited texts and 750MB of internet allowance. I thanked the staff for their time and left the store.
This was a good shopping experience with a couple of good recommendations and the best demonstrations out of all of the stores. However, the tariffs were not the best value for money I’d seen.
DISCUSSING MY story with the saleswoman, the initial response was: “It would be best for you to get a Windows-based handset as it would be much easier to view and edit the likes of Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. We have two of them: the Samsung Omnia 7 or the HTC 7 Mozart.” Pointing out the handsets on the display wall she told me the HTC was £35 a month and the Omnia was £40 a month. “The camera on the Samsung is lower than the HTC, but the quality is reasonable.” Once we had discussed the top-line features, I was handed the March edition of Together magazine and told: “You can look in here or go online.”
I asked about the tariffs. Flipping through the magazine, the saleswoman pointed to the 35 plan on Panther, “This is going to be the best value for money; for £35.75 you get 600 minutes, unlimited texts and email and 750MB internet.” Reading the magazine article in more detail after I had left the store, the Panther tariff offered extras including Sat Nav with Orange maps and 50 photo messages.
I expected more from this visit, but unfortunately the end result offered little more than what I could read for myself and whilst the handsets were capable, a purchase was never on the cards.
Tesco Extra Phone Shop
THE PHONE shop was situated on the first floor of the Tesco Extra with a limited range of handsets on display – some did not even have dummy units, just blank spaces where they should have been.
Five minutes later the sole staff member approached me asking how he could help. After a brief discussion he recommended the HTC Desire HD or the Samsung Galaxy S. “You can download applications for both of those phones which will allow you to view and edit both PDFs and Office documents. However, thinking about it, the Galaxy has only got a 5MP camera and no flash compared to the Desire’s 8MP and dual LED flash, plus you can record HD video on the Desire. Would you like me to give you a demo of the Desire?” When I agreed, he disappeared through a back door only to return empty-handed. “I’m afraid we haven’t got any in stock, but we will probably get some more in next week.”
Whilst the display was not as good as other stores visited, the information offered was delivered with confidence and enthusiasm. It was a shame the handset was out of stock and subsequently prevented a live demo as the Desire dummy handset was also missing. It was difficult to get excited about a picture in a brochure.
AFTER HEARING my story the salesman walked with me over to the range of smartphones on the wall before commenting, “I’d recommend the Nokia N8 as it has got the best camera, 12MP with a Carl Zeiss lens and Xenon flash. There is also a HDMI socket so you can show all your photos and videos on your TV. Then there’s the HTC Desire HD – the camera is not quite as good as the N8 because it is 8MP, but you will still have good quality photos.” Both models required additional apps.
I then asked him what tariffs the handsets were available on, to which he handed me an A4 leaflet promoting a ‘business tariff’ that cost £30 a month excluding VAT for 1,500 minutes, 3,250 texts, 3,000 landline minutes and 500MB of data. I accepted the offer to see a live product demonstration and an N8 handset was retrieved from the storeroom.
The demo was very detailed, including operating system navigation, how to take good photos and video and purchasing applications from the Ovi Store. This was a pleasant shopping experience; I was impressed with the handset demonstration but it felt like the salesman was unsure about document viewing and editing and generalised his answers rather than finding out some useful specifics.
A mixture of handsets and operating systems featured in the mystery shop results, but the HTC Desire HD running the Android operating system proved the most popular recommendation, due to access to the Android Marketplace and staff confidence in the product.
Whilst finding out about suitable handsets was relatively straightforward, learning more about document editing was much harder Most thought there would be an app, but only the Carphone Warehouse could name the program required.