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Why Phone Stores Should Stockpile Replacements 253

Posted by Soulskill
from the easier-than-having-mcdonalds-stock-replacements dept.
Bennett Haselton writes: I would be in favor of a regulation requiring cell phone stores to have replacement phones on hand, for any phone model covered by a customer's insurance policy. Then customers who have insurance protection on their phones could get the damaged phones replaced instantly, and the replacement phones that are normally mailed out by overnight mail to customers under their protection plan, could instead be mailed to the stores to replace the one they just gave out to the customer. Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts

My phone got wet. It wasn't a warranty issue, since it was my fault. (Well, it would be more accurate to say that it wasn't the manufacturer's fault. I was going through the Ballard Locks with some friends in a river raft that we were paddling. But taking my phone on the raft wasn't the stupid part; I had it sealed in a zippable plastic bag. But on the way back through the locks, some jerks in a rental yacht pulled up to the raft, started chatting, and then suddenly urged us to get on board and get our raft into the yacht very urgently, making me think it was an emergency and causing me to lose track of my phone. As I dug the soaked phone out of my pocket once we were all on board the yacht, we later determined that the "emergency" was that the jerks were trying to get the three women in bikinis on board their boat.)

So I gave the T-Mobile store rep an abbreviated version of this story the next day, and he said that after I paid the $90 deductible under the phone insurance policy, I could get a new phone mailed out to me by overnight mail. As much as the phone itself sucked, I really wanted a working one again, so since I could see the same model in boxes on the wall, I asked why I couldn't just take one of those, since the insurance policy entitled me to a replacement. He said it was because to save costs, their insurance provider sometimes sent out refurbished phones as replacements under the insurance policy, which are worth less because they can't be sold new.

Well, that's fair. Presumably it really does keep costs down to use refurbished phones as replacements, and while not every cost savings gets passed on to the consumer, it doesn't hurt. Then I asked if I could "borrow" one of the in-store models by buying it and using it until the replacement phone arrived the next day, then returning the borrowed phone to the store under their 14-day return policy? No, he said, at least not without paying the $50 re-stocking fee. (In hindsight I probably should have paid that for the ability to start using my phone again, but it's one of those fees that grates on you not because you can't afford it, but because you're disgusted at having to pay it.)

But, that's still fair. Restocking a phone costs money too. But -- but -- why don't they just keep a stockpile of phones in a cardboard box in the back -- the crummy "refurbished" ones that can't be sold new -- and use those to satisfy customers' insurance claims? Then customers who file a claim could walk out of the store with a replacement phone, the same model they'd always been used to, and the insurance company could mail the replacement phone to the store, to replace the one that was handed out to the customer.

They would only have to have one replacement model of each phone that had been sold recently enough to consumers to still be covered under a replacement insurance plan. That still probably wouldn't take up more space than what you could fit into a medium cardboard box. Perhaps more popular models of phones could have multiple stand-by replacement models in the store, since it would be more likely for two people to walk in on the same day looking for replacements for that phone model -- and once the replacement phones get mailed out by the insurance company, the store's supply of replacements gets replenished anyway. If the store is really unlucky, and four people walk in on the same day making warranty claims on a phone model, when the store's policy was to only carry three of that model in stock, there would be no reason to penalize the store, as long as they made a reasonable effort to have enough replacement phones in stock to handle the normal rate of insurance claims.

For that matter, you wouldn't even have to have the replacement phones all in stock at the same store. One store could serve as the "replacement supplier" for all of that carrier's retail stores in, say, a 20-minute driving radius. So when I make my warranty claim at the initial store, they can tell me to drive 20 minutes and pick up a new phone. That would have been much preferable to waiting another day.

Also, if the customer's replacement phone gets given to me instantly and then the replacement from the insurance provider gets mailed to the store to replenish the one they just gave out, there's no particular reason it would have to be sent out by overnight mail. That would bring down the cost of handling the claim, which might be passed on to the consumer in the form of a lower insurance deductible or lower overall fees (again with the optimism, but lowering costs means the savings will be passed on to somebody, even if only to the shareholders of the cell phone carrier). The more of that phone model they have in stock at the store, the more slowly and cheaply the replacement phone can be mailed out, since you only need to make sure that the store's supply of that model never hits zero. So the optimal solution would involve weighing the cost of storing two or three of a particular phone (versus just one) versus the cost savings of the slower mailing method.

This is a simple (and very first-world) problem and a modest fix, but the larger point is that there's no reason to think that the free market necessarily arrives at the most cost-effective solution in situations like this. Companies compete on cost-effectiveness in arenas that are highly visible to the consumer and likely to factor into their purchasing decisions -- the highest-megapixel camera for the lowest price, for example -- but few customers at purchase time are likely to ask about the insurance claim process (and probably very few people ask how quickly a phone gets replaced when a user files a claim). As such, we're lucky that the insurance provider sends out the replacement phone by overnight mail at all, when they could presumably mail it out by 3- or 4-day mail instead, and no free market forces or government truth-in-labeling enforcers would probably penalize them for that. But an in-store-replacement rule (or a replacement-from-some-store-within-a-20-minute-drive rule) would benefit customers more and, with the savings on the mailing speed for the replacements, possibly cost the carrier less. (Even if it did cost the carrier more to carry a small box of in-store replacements in the back room, and even if that cost did get passed on to customers, I'd consider myself ahead on the deal if it meant I'd never be without a replacement phone for more than a day.)

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Why Phone Stores Should Stockpile Replacements

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  • Quick (Score:5, Insightful)

    by qbast (1265706) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @10:21AM (#47816303)
    ... legislate away my every inconvenience.
    • Agree 100% (Score:5, Insightful)

      by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot&keirstead,org> on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @10:25AM (#47816351) Homepage

      This article is foolish. I could write the same diatribe for any object under warranty.

      Car dealerships should be required to keep an inventory for every model on-hand in case my car needs to go in for warranty service for an extended period.

      Home Depot should be required to keep a loaner inventory for every power tool in case I need to ship mine away for warranty service

      Best Buy should be required to keep a a loaner inventory for every refrigerator model...

      etc etc...

      You should count yourself lucky that most cell shops offer you a free loaner phone AT ALL, because they are under no obligation to, and some do not without a fee.

      • I was more surprised with the free overnight delivery and warranty covering accidents.
        • Re:Agree 100% (Score:5, Informative)

          by hawguy (1600213) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @11:01AM (#47816725)

          I was more surprised with the free overnight delivery and warranty covering accidents.

          It wasn't replaced under warranty, it was replaced under a carrier provided insurance plan -- a plan that usually costs around $100/year, yet still has a high deductible. I once bought the insurance, but when I lost my phone about a year into the contract, i found that I could get a used one on eBay for less than the deductible. If you lose or break a new model phone within the few months of release, it may be worth it, but after that, you're generally better off just buying a new phone if you lose yours.

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            That kind of insurance is never worth it. Put it on your home contents insurance, or just shove some money in a jar every month to cover all your electrical appliances. Insurance is only ever worth it for things that might cost more than you can afford but absolutely need to pay for, such as damaging other people's cars or re-building your house after a fire.

      • Car dealerships should be required to keep an inventory for every model on-hand in case my car needs to go in for warranty service for an extended period.

        Actually, in my country (Israel) this _is_ law. All car dealerships have associated garages that must supply seven years worth expected spare parts for all new vehicles, including non-wear parts such as body parts, and to maintain that stock. I'm not sure about how the details pan out for older vehicles, but it ensures that the company cannot just up and leave us without any parts.

        • Re:Agree 100% (Score:5, Informative)

          by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot&keirstead,org> on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @10:53AM (#47816661) Homepage

          Having spare parts on hand has nothing to do with providing loaner vehicles while the car is under repair whatsoever. This (silly) article is about loaner phones, the analaogy is therefore loaner vehicles. It is common practice for dealerships to give you a loaner vehicle if your car will be in the shop for multiple days, but the loaner is just a random vehicle, not the exact same type. Just like this guys loaner phone was not the same type.

      • The thermopile on my 16 month old hot water heater broke down on a Friday morning. The parts are still under warranty, but not labor.

        I called Sears service (the warranter), told them the diagnostic code indicated the exact problem, and scheduled service (earliest available was Saturday). The tech arrived, looked at the same double-blink light pattern that I saw, and agreed that the thermopile needed to be replaced. He didn't, however, carry that part on his truck, so he had to "overnight" order it.

        An "ov

        • by Russ1642 (1087959)

          Fixing a thermopile is very very very easy.

          • by Richy_T (111409)

            Yep. Sometimes waiting on an external service is more trouble (and sometimes money) than it's worth.

        • I know I'll never order from Sears again (other service companies carry parts on their trucks), but I hadn't thought of just making it illegal to provide bad service...

          See, you're doing the right thing there by telling you friends. I've done the same on Facebook (Sears told me that me hand-washing dishes for a month while I waited for a $70 part was reasonable under their extended warranty that I foolishly purchased and that I was lucky because people who have refrigerators that fail in the summer and have

      • by GuB-42 (2483988)

        The difference is that phones are small and you only need to stock a dozen models to serve most clients.

        And while there is no obligation to do so, it may bring a lot of good publicity. Especially now that brick and mortar shops have to compete with online resellers. In fact, the ability to walk in and leave with your item is probably the number one reason they still exist.

        Psychologically, immediate response is extremely important. If you want a good example of a company fully understanding this principle, j

        • by brunes69 (86786)

          And how many of each of those models do you need to stock? 5? 10? This is not a zero-cost proposal.

          Furthermore, it doesn't invalidate any of my previous analogies. Home Depot only carries probably 3 models of chainsaws so the analogy holds.

          There is nothing special about cell phones that should require this kind of discussion, It most certainly should not be regulated. If this is really that important to you then voice your concerns to the store, if enough people want it the market will take care of it.

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          The difference is that phones are small and you only need to stock a dozen models to serve most clients.

          And while there is no obligation to do so, it may bring a lot of good publicity. Especially now that brick and mortar shops have to compete with online resellers. In fact, the ability to walk in and leave with your item is probably the number one reason they still exist.

          Psychologically, immediate response is extremely important. If you want a good example of a company fully understanding this principle, j

      • by Krojack (575051)

        Car dealerships should be required to keep an inventory for every model on-hand in case my car needs to go in for warranty service for an extended period.

        They use to have loaners on hand but stopped due to liability and insurance cost. Now they will give you a ride to a local car rental service. Your own car insurance will cover a rental.

        • by brunes69 (86786)

          Car rental will not be the exact same model so the analogy does not hold. OP wants a law that says if your car needs to go in the shop they should provide you with a loaner of the EXACT SAME type.

      • This article is foolish

        Well, yeah. Most of us could have told you that as soon as we saw who wrote it.

    • by Rockoon (1252108)
      Insurance companies should keep spare houses on hand for when my house burns down. I dont want to wait.
      • by swb (14022)

        A lot of insurance policies do cover temporary housing, and it wouldn't surprise me if they do maintain "inventory" in the form of preferential arrangements with hotels, especially the extended stay kind.

    • Re:Quick (Score:5, Insightful)

      by u38cg (607297) <calum@callingthetune.co.uk> on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @10:34AM (#47816457) Homepage
      Why in the name of Goodness does this inane stream-of-consciousness rambling get published here? And more to the point, why can't he be given an auther ID so we can filter his nonsense out?

      To keep this vaguely on topic, the answer is efficiency. If that's not good enough for you, fuck off and run a retail store until you have a clue.

      • Re:Quick (Score:5, Interesting)

        by qbast (1265706) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @10:51AM (#47816645)
        All that ranting just because he could not get new phone *immediately*. What is wrong with this guy?
        • It's not even a new phone, it's a crummy old phone.

        • by jeffmeden (135043)

          All that ranting just because he could not get new phone *immediately*. What is wrong with this guy?

          It's even a phone he admittedly hates. For fucks sake, he should have listened to the sign from God and just bought an iPhone (which they no doubt have in stock) so he can complain about *real* phone problems.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        I check the submissions queue every now and again in case I can down-vote his posts, but I never seem to catch them. Are they on some kind of fast-track?

    • Re:Quick (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @10:41AM (#47816553)

      I agree.

      It it so dumb that people think about only the cost to them and ask for regulations from the government to make life easier. They choose to ship replacement overnight because that is more cost effective then keeping a pile of refurbished phones in stock in every store.

      How dose a stupid article like this make front page?

      • From TFA:

        But taking my phone on the raft wasn't the stupid part; I had it sealed in a zippable plastic bag.

        There needs to be a law to make those plastic bags really, REALLY watertight so people who are NOT being stupid by putting their phone in one and then going on a raft ...

        Were you really going to answer the phone while you were on the raft? No that's not stupid. (sarcasm)

        But on the way back through the locks, some jerks in a rental yacht pulled up to the raft, started chatting, and then suddenly urged u

    • ... legislate away my every inconvenience.

      ^^^ Pure logical win.

  • Legislation? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @10:24AM (#47816347)

    You're in favor of the federal government enacting legislation that would determine how a company runs? We need less government oversight, not more... especially for something as ridiculous as this. If you can't be without your phone overnight, you have some issues. If it's that important.. YOU keep a spare on hand using YOUR money.

    • You're in favor of the federal government enacting legislation that would determine how a company runs? We need less government oversight, not more... especially for something as ridiculous as this. If you can't be without your phone overnight, you have some issues. If it's that important.. YOU keep a spare on hand using YOUR money.

      It's as simple as getting a $20 Jenny basic phone from Amazon, and possibly a $5 SIM adapter so your micro/nano sim can fit. I think it's a great insurance policy, and you can take the basic phone with you overseas to use with random sims (of course, with T-Mobile, you can still use your phone data-free,sms-free, and calls without usurious charges overseas too, but having a backup there is useful too).

      • It's as simple as getting a $20 Jenny basic phone from Amazon, and possibly a $5 SIM adapter so your micro/nano sim can fit. I think it's a great insurance policy, and you can take the basic phone with you overseas to use with random sims (of course, with T-Mobile, you can still use your phone data-free,sms-free, and calls without usurious charges overseas too, but having a backup there is useful too).

        You don't even have to buy your spare.

        I have a BlackBerry I kept from 4 years ago as my backup sitting in my closet.

        Doesn't do any whizz bang stuff the new phones do, but it'll at least give me text/data/phone if my regular phone craps out.

        I've only had to use it once, and I loaned it out to a family member when their phone was being replaced a year ago.

  • Bad Advice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PvtVoid (1252388) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @10:26AM (#47816353)

    Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts

    This is pretty much always bad advice.

    • by bobbied (2522392)
      It certainly was this time... Drowns his phone and gripe because it takes too long to replace it? I want my 5 min back...
    • His columns aren't always terrible, but this one was particularly dumb. Oh no, I'm so god damn special that I can't wait 2 days to get my phone replaced. If it's that big of a deal, either get better insurance or buy your own spare phone.

  • by rodrigoandrade (713371) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @10:27AM (#47816369)
    What's wrong with you people? Can't you take care of your own fucking problems without crying to dad..., er, I mean, government for help???

    Get something through your thick skulls: regulation is ALWAYS bad!! But you'll only get once some regulation affects you in a negative way.
    • by david_thornley (598059) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @10:40AM (#47816539)

      Regulation is by no means always bad. The one Bennet proposed is, par for the course.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Regulation isn't always bad by any means. Ensuring food and drink isn't poisonous, preventing companies screwing their customers via false advertising, and preventing collusion in a market with few competitors are all examples of the good that can come from regulation.

      This idea is shit though, you're right there.

    • by Type44Q (1233630)

      dad..., er, I mean, government

      I hope to hell your dad didn't engage in the same kind of activities that government is so well-known for...!

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      Get something through your thick skulls: regulation is ALWAYS bad!!

      Food safety: ALWAYS bad!!
      Building codes: ALWAYS bad!!
      Headphones that don't electrocute me: ALWAYS bad!!
      Baby cribs that don't kill babies: ALWAYS bad!!
      Medicine that is safe: ALWAYS bad!!

      Your position is absurd.

    • by Nimey (114278)

      "Regulation is always bad", says the fuckwit who gets clean food and water because of government regulation.

  • by djbckr (673156) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @10:28AM (#47816379)
    It troubles me that you were without your phone for a few days. Really... well... NOT. What kind of tripe is this on Slashdot? This is perhaps one of the most whinging pathetic things I've heard in a while. It reminds me of a two-year-old crying over spilt milk.
    • It troubles me that you were without your phone for a few days. Really... well... NOT.

      I'm old. I remember the times before cell phones. Sometimes, when you moved, you were without phone service for a whole week or more. And you had to tell everyone who mattered what your new phone number was.

      And still society managed to survive.

      Somehow, without constant phone reception, the country put men on the moon.

      But let's make a law now so companies will be forced to stock replacement phones because OVERNIGHT is too s

    • This is perhaps one of the most whinging pathetic things I've heard in a while.

      This can only be true if "a while" is "since his last pointless rant got posted to Slashdot".

  • by Galaga88 (148206) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @10:28AM (#47816381)

    I'm pretty sure Apple stores have replacement stock on hand. Anytime I've had to get my phone replaced under AppleCare+, I've been able to make my appointment, walk in, and walk out with a (presumably refurbed) new phone from a box in the back. Heck, if the replacement didn't work in the store, they had even more replacements ready to go.

    This is probably the result of Apple being able to afford to keep that kind of inventory on hand in their stores. Plus, Apple doesn't exactly have a lot of models of phones. A carrier like T-Mobile or Verizon would have to keep a frankly excessive number of phones on hand for any immediate warranty replacements. (How many Samsung phones are on the market at any given time?)

    On the gripping hand, it's not like smartphones are exactly *large* and would take up a lot of space in the backroom so...

    I think it'd be a nice customer service perk (and part of the reason I stick with Apple) but not something that needs to be legislated. Do carriers not keep cheap loaners in stock that you can borrow (with a credit card deposit) until your actual replacement shows up?

    • Not only that, if they don't have the model you have, they will replace it with a better one. When the Wifi went out on my 16gb 4S, I walked out with a 32gb.

      • Not only that, if they don't have the model you have, they will replace it with a better one. When the Wifi went out on my 16gb 4S, I walked out with a 32gb.

        That's because it costs Apple no more than $5 to give you the 32Gb version over the 16Gb version. It's cheaper than having to ship a replacement to you. It's also good customer service, which is one of things you pay for when you buy an Apple product. Personally, I buy Android devices because you get a better device for your money (in my opinion), but there are some perks for paying the Apple tax....

    • by david_thornley (598059) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @10:46AM (#47816603)

      This is the precise way it should be handled, by the market. Apple will replace your phone on the spot, so that's one reason you stay with Apple. For them, it's a competitive advantage that is apparently worth the extra cost.

      Bennett wanted his phone replaced on the spot, but neither selected a vendor for that purpose nor was willing to spend $50 extra because he was apparently too stupid to leave the phone in its waterproof bag until he was on land. This is precisely what government regulation isn't for.

      • Bingo. What he described is not something that needs to be legislated, nor should it be. After all, there's nothing special about the mobile industry, so why wouldn't this extend to microwaves, dishwashers, refrigerators, cars, and other devices under warranty? As soon as we put it in those terms, we realize that it makes little sense to do so, since it's ridiculously expensive to keep stock on-hand in many cases.

        As you said, that Apple is able to do so is a competitive advantage that differentiates them, a

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        These days most people have an old phone that could tide them over for a few days while they order another one. New ones are not exactly expensive, e.g. a Nexus 5 is on a par with pretty much anything else in most respects and there are a few other "high end but cheap" phones out there now. I think the days of expensive phones are coming to an end in the next few years.

    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      To cover iPhones an Apple store would have to have at most 8 different models. There are also fewer Apple Stores. Another factor is that many iPhone users "have" to have the latest phone so there are quite a few used phones around. Non-iPhones have different issues. Multiply the number of cell phone stores by the number of different models in the last 5 year and multiply that by the average cost of a phone and you get a very big number.

      On the gripping hand, it's not like smartphones are exactly *large* and would take up a lot of space in the backroom so...

      Space is not the issue. Cost is.

  • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @10:30AM (#47816403) Homepage
    This is like the worst article I have seen on /. in a while.
  • No More Bennett (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gauauu (649169) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @10:31AM (#47816419)

    Why, slashdot, why, do you let this guy post this nonsense? It almost makes me miss John Katz.

    Ok, time for an off-topic side story. Feel free to mod me off-topic, but I can't resist.

    My kids (6 years old) came home with a book list of books they were supposed to get from the library and read. One of them was about some Dogs from some farm. So my wife comes home with the book from the library. As I start reading it, I notice the author's name: John Katz. That can't be the same John Katz can it? Turns out, yes. John Katz, after moving on from posting drivel on slashdot, is now writing children's books. And my school district was making my children read them. There's no escape!

    So I'm pretty sure, once slashdot finally gets the message that nobody here cares a lick about what Bennett Hassleton thinks, he'll turn up somewhere else equally miserable.

    • I am sure that Bennett also believes that the government should enact some legislation forcing school children to read his angry rants.
  • by gweihir (88907) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @10:31AM (#47816421)

    Really, overnight is fine for most people. However, for the price of an additional phone and some surcharge, I am sure your phone shop will be willing to stockpile one phone just for you. Requiring them to have all insured phones in stock would just drive up insurance prices, even for people that do not need this.

    • Mods, please mod up parent.
    • by danomac (1032160)

      When I couldn't find an immediate replacement battery for one of my old cell phones a couple years ago, I ordered one online. It was going to take a week and so I went down to the cell provider store and bought the cheapest phone they had ($90.) Now I always have a spare phone around in case my smartphone craps out. Who needs an insurance plan?

      I didn't rant and rave on Slashdot about it then. I didn't think it was a big deal then and I still don't now. Guy sounds completely like an entitlement elitist.

    • I don't think he realizes that he is dealing with the insurance carrier, and not the cell phone provider. The store stock he saw and the insurance carrier's stock are two separate inventories owned by separate entities. If I have to make a claim on accidental damage on my phone, I deal strictly with the insurance provider (Asurion). My provider could care less, all they did was offer the policy and handle the premium deduction on the monthly bill.
  • I'll be honest (Score:5, Insightful)

    by korbulon (2792438) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @10:32AM (#47816431)

    I don't even read this guy's posts anymore. I come here for the (mostly deserved) snide comments.

    Again, someone remind me why this guy keeps popping on ./

    • Re:I'll be honest (Score:5, Insightful)

      by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @10:49AM (#47816631) Homepage

      someone remind me why this guy keeps popping on ./

      He probably pays Dice for the privilege. Or else Slashdot just posts him because he's click-bait, baby. And the more you hate him, the more more you click, and the more Slashdot loves him!

      • THIS!!!! Click bait is exactly why they keep posting his crap!

        I've been thinking for a while that I'd love to write a Bennet Hasselton parody where I argue in 1200 words why he is such an asset to /. but I can never debase myself to write 1200 words without arriving at a meaningful conclusion.

    • They probably just look at the number of comments on his rants without reading what the comments are about, coming to the conclusion that he's very popular.
  • No, it's never going to happen. It costs money to carry inventory. Stores are not warehouses.

  • Geez. What a pussy.

  • ... you are not in the retail phone store business with a ton of inventory in the back room stocking every conceivable device that's not supposed to need replacement.

  • working capital (Score:5, Informative)

    by Cardoor (3488091) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @10:38AM (#47816493)
    this is purely a question of economics and $. the answer is very straightforward for those familiar with either financial accounting or microeconomics, and comes down to a concept called 'working capital management'.

    To house that inventory (inventory being an element of working capital, along with accounts receivable and payables etc) of phones costs money, and do so means that you have to take into account the cost of that money. If you need to borrow it, then you have to pay interest on the balance. If you have the extra cash, then you need to take into account the opportunity cost of using your cash for inventory instead of, say, marketing or hiring another salesperson.

    to use a numbers example, lets say you are the store owner, and you determine you need 50 phones on hand at any given time. you need to pay $50 upfront to house each phone, or cough up 50 x 50 = $2500 upfront. When a customer comes in for a replacement, you give them one out of your inventory, and then need to order a replacement to top-you-off back to a standing inventory of 50 phones. The give-out/re-topping off is a net money neutral transaction (at least theoretically), but as you will always have to top off your inventory, you will never see your $2500 again unless you liquidate, which as long as you're a going concern, you won't do. Add onto that the fact that holding that inventory exposes you to obscolesence risks, and so your inventory, even in a liquidation scenario, might only be worth, say $1000 to you. So you have capital risk in addition to the costs of funding the inventory. Now multiply that $2500 by the however many thousands of retail shops you care to (and/or increase the number of phones needed in inventory) and you start talking real money.

    Now if the manufacturer wants to finance the whole shebang instead of the retail store owner, then great. but SOMEONE has to finance it. and it's much easier (and cheaper) to make the customer wait and only order them as-needed.
    • by OzPeter (195038)

      this is purely a question of economics and $. the answer is very straightforward for those with a clue and comes down to a concept called 'working capital management'.

      FTFY and also identified the root cause of the issue at hand.

  • by tompaulco (629533) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @10:40AM (#47816535) Homepage Journal
    How about legislation to make it illegal for companies to sell insurance on phone for $10-$12 a month and then charge a $90 deductible on a phone that is now several months old and could be bought on the internet for $50?
    • Probably why they allow 100% customer fault warranty claims. At that price they are actually making money on every warranty claim.
    • Actually, I think you have a point that can be refined. If the deductible is higher than the cost of the replacement that is just misleading advertisement. Everyone assumes that having issuance means that you are protected in some way, not that filing a claim is actually profitable by the insurance company.
      • Most smartphones have a pretty high unsubsidized price tag. If you have a subsidized phone under contract, the insurance is a pretty good deal if your phone goes for a swim.
    • Why? There's a simple solution when someone offers you a bad deal. Don't take it.

      I used to buy insurance for phones. It was a decent deal. I spent a little money, and if the not super likely but possible happened, I was spared $hundreds out of pocket. Then prices went up, and deductibles went up, and before long I was spending too much money. When the not super likely but possible happened, I was out a fairly hefty deductable anyway. I just quit renewing the policy, and quit buying them going forward

  • ... Then customers who have insurance protection on their phones could get the damaged phones replaced instantly...

    Not instantly, first you have to get to the phone store.

    .
    But nit-picking aside, this is an incredibly stupid idea.

    ... But taking my phone on the raft wasn't the stupid part;

    That's debatable. If the phone is as critical to your life as you say it is, taking the only phone you have on a raft is stupid, ziplock or not. As you found out, stuff happens, even to things in ziplock bags.

    • perhaps the government should legislate that every phone sold comes with a spare encase your first one breaks.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @10:44AM (#47816581)

    ... is that he could have got a replacement immediately, subject to a $50 restocking fee, which he agrees is reasonable.

    But what he wants is regulation which allows him to do the same thing, more or less, but not subject to the restocking fee. So he wants RETAILERS to take some responsibility of INSURERS, but without being paid to do it.

    Why was this even posted? Who gives a shit about this guy's shit? This is the kind of crap you want to see (or ideally don't even want to see) on Facebook. Maybe his friends care. But on Slashdot? Really?

  • by RatherBeAnonymous (1812866) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @10:49AM (#47816633)

    You can't legislate good customer service. Besides, the inventory overhead would be unreasonable.

    But, this is T-Mobile he's talking about. They use SIM cards. The store could just program a SIM card, slip it in a random unit someone traded in last month, and let him walk out of the store at least being able to make phone calls. Heck, they might not even care about getting the loaner unit back, depending on its resale value. It's the sort of courtesy that encourages repeat patronage.

  • Not journalism (Score:4, Insightful)

    by knapper_tech (813569) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @10:50AM (#47816637)
    This is clearly an opinion piece. A quick scan makes it look even more anecdotal and presumptuous than I had expected. It's not April 1st, and this is terrible.
  • The *real* problem goes far deeper, my friend. If the cellular companies in America didn't standardize on selling the handsets instead of the service, none of this would even matter anymore!

    In a more sane scenario, you'd simply buy a used cellphone off Amazon or eBay, or off a buddy, or a classified ad in the local newspaper ... whatever. It wouldn't matter what make or model you selected. You'd bring it in and say, "I'd like to put THIS phone on my plan, please?" and they'd do it. (Heck, maybe they'd ev

  • the larger point is that there's no reason to think that the free market necessarily arrives at the most cost-effective solution in situations like this. Companies compete on cost-effectiveness in arenas that are highly visible to the consumer and likely to factor into their purchasing decisions

    That is an important point; one that is worthwhile to highlight regularly. There are many who believe that the theoretical ideal free market can be closely approximated by a laissez-faire real world market. It cannot

    • 1. There are far more than 4 cellular companies in the Phoenix area 2. There are hundreds of independent stores in the Phoenix area 3. It would take at least 100 locations just within the Phoenix area to put the entire population within 20 minutes of a location Verizon currently shows 34 different smartphones available for sale, most of those come in multiple colors and memory sizes. They also have 8 basic phones. Total variations, not including color, is over 50 I would wager that across providers and p
  • And I mean the crowd, not the admins.

    For voicing all the thoughts that immediately jumped into my mind as soon as I saw this on the front page.

    Bleh.

  • by Scootin159 (557129) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @11:06AM (#47816801) Homepage

    Because everything needs an automotive analogy.... "Car dealers should keep one of every part in stock for every car that's currently under warranty"

    This would be completely unrealistic for a car dealership to do, so instead they stock only the parts used most frequently, and then just rely on the manufacturer to have an appropriate stock at regional/national warehouses. It's been this way for years, and yes it's an inconvenience for the day or two (or ten) that it takes the parts to come in, but it is what it is.

    Perhaps the better plan, again taking a lesson from dealerships, would be to have "loaner" phones on hand to let you borrow while you wait for a "new" phone to come in. Of course, dealers seem to never have enough loaner cars, and I'm sure the phones would be the same thing - they'd also need to address the concern of getting the phones back (perhaps have warranty phones shipped to local store, and only given out upon receipt of the loaner?).

  • I think it's stupid to insure a phone. You insure stuff whose loss or destruction will bring you financial ruin. Not every other stuff.

  • by Lab Rat Jason (2495638) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @11:44AM (#47817155)

    First and foremost... a bunch of strangers on a yacht are yelling at you to get on board for no explicable reason and you just do it??? Your ass just got kidnapped!

    Second: Your story is unclear... are you suggesting that there were three women in bikinis on your river raft? If you speak the way you write I find that claim dubious.

    Third: Some guys in a rental yacht start yelling something about getting aboard their boat and your situational awareness tells you it's an emergency and you should get in the water???? IN A LOCK OF ALL PLACES??? Depending on the direction the lock was operating, you could have been pulled under and drown. Your fucking lucky to be alive! Remind me to never let you captain anything that floats ever!

    Fourth: Suggesting that every cell phone store keep an equivalent unit on hand would have a cumulative cost in the millions, and 90% of those devices would be wasted... they would sit on the shelf until such time as the user (rarely) needs a replacement, or until the user decides to upgrade... at which point the store now has an obsolete phone on the shelf that can't be sold for profit, and is now required to buy a brand new phone to stick on the shelf to act as "back up" for the new phone just purchased. Your logic is incomprehensible. It is apparent that you have no business sense whatsoever and that you make a living only because you are surrounded by exceedingly tolerant and generous people.

  • Seriously. You've got complaints, and Apple has solutions. If you think that this sort of service is essential enough to legislate, you should just buy from the company that does this thing you want. Does it outweigh the advantages of your Android phone? You've got an LG Optimus that you've complained about before, so the thing you seem to be concerned about is how much this phone costs.

    I don't understand why you don't seem to get that your user experience is correlated with what you're willing to pay. You

  • by ibpooks (127372) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @11:50AM (#47817245) Homepage

    Could we please get a tag to filter out this narcissistic drivel from the ever-obnoxious Bennet?

  • "sometimes sent out refurbished phones"

    not sometimes ALWAYS...

    I was one of the first to get an HTC M8 and the first to suffer the failures of the device. 5 days after I first got the phone I had to send it in for replacement (lens cracking and scratching on camera that is still rampant) and I got back a refurb.

    They will never ever send you a brand new phone unless they have no other choice. They will send you someone elses borked item first.

  • by silfen (3720385) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @12:10PM (#47817423)

    Here is a list of additional, serious problems legislators should address ASAP:

    http://first-world-problems.co... [first-world-problems.com]

  • by kamapuaa (555446) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @12:31PM (#47817617) Homepage

    Like everybody else says, this article is stupid. BUT THERE'S MORE!

    T-Mobile sells a number of Android phones for less than the deductible of $90. $50 Alcatels, for instance, or the Nokia Windowphone. The LG L90 is a half-decent phone, better than the LG F3 he broke, for $100. Or he could even use the money to get a better phone. People use their cell phones a lot, presumably Bennett Hasselton is gainfully employed, it would have been worth the $1/day.

    Why would a person who is pinching pennies by getting a crappy phone also spend money on a high-deductible insurance policy, on a phone that probably cost him $200 new in the first place?

  • I can't even believe this stupid rant made it onto /. You can't wait ONE WHOLE DAY for your replacement phone? That, and he didn't even think through the logistics of his 'plan':

    They would only have to have one replacement model of each phone that had been sold recently enough to consumers to still be covered under a replacement insurance plan. That still probably wouldn't take up more space than what you could fit into a medium cardboard box

    I don't think you realize how many stores there are. Instead of keeping a single large box of replacement phones at one distribution center, you would need to ship out at least one phone to every single area that you cover. The number of phones you have to have stocked at locations could easily exceed what you have at the single

  • While I prefer new to refurb, and was once infuriated where my brand new (35 day old phone) which broke was replaced by a refurb, the refurbs are actually really good. These phones have been re-serviced and look new. When you get your refurb, other than knowing it's a refurb, there is no difference. They replace the body, and any broken components. It's like a new phone, except they can't claim it as new. Yes it's frustrating to wait a day to get the phone (possibly more if over weekend and holiday), but
  • 1) Phone warranties must be equivalent to celluar contract. In other words, 2 year phone contract. Phone must have a 2 year warranty. 80% of the problems just got solved.

    2) Accidental Damage policies, if phone is insured against accidental damage, then device is replaced OR xxx amount is applied toward a replacement or refurb model.

  • I agree with others. I cannot recall reading any story on Slashdot that made less sense.

    Additionally I have never understood the point of cell phone insurance. The phones do not cost that much. Just insure it yourself. If you lose it or damage it, buy another one. In the end, you'll come out ahead. Insurance companies understand this, so should you. Only stupid people pay for phone insurance.

    Also, if you cannot live without a phone for a day or so, then keep an old phone around for emergencies. If y

  • > Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts

    Don't! It's a trap! A long, drawn out, whiny, 6,959-word-long trap!

    Guys, wake up: Soulskill and timothy are sitting on a mountain of Dice money and they have nothing better to do than troll Slashdot's millions of loyal readers, day in, day out. It's the only explanation that I can think of.

    Well, it's either that, or they're a combination of retarded enough to think drivel like this is newsworthy and they don't give enough of a shit about their audience to bothe

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