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Is it just me, or does anyone else think Sprint flubbed this launch?

Journeyman

Is it just me, or does anyone else think Sprint flubbed this launch?

Now that launch day has come and gone and the lingering questions have resolved themselves (will BB sell me the phone on Friday?  With or without a coupon? Can I call telesales and order it on the 8th?  Will I be able to use by existing plan? etc.), in retrospect does anyone else think that this was one of the most disorganized, manhandled, and confusing launches of a phone?

Here's a few things off the top of my head I can think of that went wrong or were handled poorly:

  • Many customer service reps knew nothing about the phone or what plans it required
  • There was next to no advertising (and in my opinon Verizon stole the HTC Android thunder with their Google annoucement)
  • Account Services didn't seem to know much more than customer service
  • Best Buy (Sprint's mobile sales partner) was equally disorganized with their pre-launch early release and lack of knowledge around various stores
  • The number of phones available on launch day (at least by me) was shameful - just 8 at the coroporate store, 2 at each of 3 kiosks, 0 at one mall store, and (I'm guessing) fewer than 10 at BB
  • The launch took place on a holiday weekend (Columbus Day) such that no mail would be delivered on Monday so no phones would be replenished until Tuesday at the earliest, but probably more like Wed. or Thurs. - 3 or 4 days after launch is lame considering the paltry stock they had to start with

At my Sprint corporate store I was informed by one of the representatives that not only were they out of phones early in the day, but they (as a store) were out of rebate money as well.  Apparently each store gets an allotment of money for rebates each month and this store had already used all their rebate money before the launch.  In addition, he told me that on launch day, they learned that they COULD have been selling the phones since Thursday but no one knew!

I guess Sprint will get another shot in less than a month with the Moment.  At least for the Moment there's a video of one of Sprint's top sales guys promoting the hell out of it.  I could not find the equivalent Hero video.

It's shameful really.  This wasn't just the launch of a new phone, it was Sprint's first foray into the Android operating system and the way then entered the market reminded me of an awkward teenager stumbling over his own feet as he enters a new high school classroom.

I wonder how many more phones they could have sold if they were just a little bit more organized and had some advertising in place?

... Hopefully my Hero arrives today in the mail.

As a side note, my BB did not know about the coupon until someone brought one in, and then they allowed the sale of the phones to anyone with a coupon.  I never received a coupon and I'm a Silver Premier Reward Zone member so I have NO idea how BB handled the (e-)mailing of those things either.

Message was edited by: bswanson

19 REPLIES 19
Journeyman

Re: Is it just me, or does anyone else think Sprint flubbed this launch?

I've always scratched my head as to why sprint doesn't advertise any phones except the instinct which I always thought kind of sucked.  Sprint uassually has a decent to great line of smartphones and there's never a commercial for a one of them, the PRE is finally getting advertisments but that seems like it's Palm's doing, and they should have done it pre-launch (pardon the pun).

Journeyman

Re: Is it just me, or does anyone else think Sprint flubbed this launch?

It occurs to me that cell phone service providers have a tendancy, unlike every other industry, of effectively hiding launch dates. Instead of hyping and marketing phone well before launch we get offical notice of them only weeks before they are in the store, they only show up on Sprint.com the day before or the day they are purchasable. In many ways I think Sprint and the carriers et all flub every launch ecept AT&T w/ Iphones, but I suspect that is Apples doing.

Journeyman

Re: launch

I would go by sales goals vs. actual sales figures to determine what has been flubbed. Of course that will not be known for some time...

As far as my personal experience, it was fine - the sales girl knew how to set up the Hero, offered to transfer contacts, offered to give me a run-through of the phone's operation, etc. She was helpful and I couldn't have asked for more, honestly. She knew more about a brand new phone that I thought she would.

Journeyman

Re: Is it just me, or does anyone else think Sprint flubbed this launch?

I can understand Sprint (or any carrier) keeping a phone under wraps until the last minute simply because they don't want to cannibalize their own business.

For example, I think Sprint has not sold nearly the volume of Pre phones that they were hoping and so there is a push (from Palm at least) to sell more of those with advertisements on TV and all that.

I suppose from a marketing standpoint I don't really fault Sprint except for one thing...  In their own store on launch day had I not known the Hero was being launched I would remain clueless.  There were zero posters or other media with so much as the words "HTC Hero" on them.  By comparison the day the Pre launched there was a new section against one wall with a large new LCD display running a Pre video demo and two or three demonstration models available to try out.  When I asked for a demo model to hold I was told they didn't have any - the only ones they had were sold, but even before then they didn't have any to demo, only to sell.  Same deal with Best Buy - no demo models, just sales units.  At least Best Buy had a sign that said HTC Hero and a spot where a phone would be.

I also agree the "flub" will be determined by sales figures, but quite honestly with such a low-key launch (and low quantities in my metropolitan area) I don't see how sales can be very high before the Moment arrives (with more promotional material and a keyboard) and takes away any remaining Hero sales.

The overall impression I got from Sprint and its partners for this phone was, "meh...we think there will be a phone launched in a few days but no one really knows anything....or cares."

To me it just seemed very lackluster and disorganized.  If the launch was quiet but well organized (meaning everyone knew the details who should know and there were plenty of phones in stock for launch day) then I wouldn't call it a flub (or maybe fumble is more accurate).

But then again, that's just my impression and opinion.  One in a billion and of little significance.

Journeyman

Re: Is it just me, or does anyone else think Sprint flubbed this launch?

I think it could have been better.   My phone arrived via UPS and when I powered it up, it tried to auto-provision.  That didn't work because the order was still showing as open (so then, why bother with setting the phone to do this???).  So I went to the local Sprint store - about 5 minutes away - and they were able to provision it.  However, the tech was not able to set up the Outlook sync without my guidance, even though our company is the Sprint spin-off and it's set up the same as Sprint.  I heard one of the techs at the store tell at least 3 people that they'd have to go to their own company's IT folks to set up their email pushing.  I can understand if the customer doesn't know what their settings should be.  But I sensed a lack of basic understanding from the tech that was doing my phone.

And there are no accessories for this phone available at my local Sprint store or Best Buy, not even screen protectors.  Sprint has known for months when this device was going to launch.  BB got the wrong protectors and sent them back, and was out of generic ones.  Sprint had nothing to offer.  That seems inexcusable to me.

Not exactly the best way to create positive buzz.

Journeyman

Re: Is it just me, or does anyone else think Sprint flubbed this launch?

ronnienyc, i think you missed what this post was getting at.

I was shocked that the Hero did not show up in Sprint's lineup on their website until Sunday the 11th.  Why wouldn't they hype this thing up on their website?!?  So basically the only advertising that the Hero got was the mention on page 2X in the BB weekly circular.  I was comletely surprised by the lack of advertising for this thing, unless that is Sprint's approach.  Or do they think that Android phones are not meant for mainstream consumers?

Journeyman

Re: Is it just me, or does anyone else think Sprint flubbed this launch?

Like any corporation it all boils down to money. You better believe that someone made the call to advertise or not. Given the buzz this phone has received without burning any advertising bucks they'll probably sell millions of Heroes in the first week anyway... Thus the person who made the call not to advertise will be the Sprint capitalist Hero! Money not spent is money earned!

Additionally, I wonder how much good all the ad dollars spent on the Pre did them... I suspect that the Pre fell short of their expected numbers?

Journeyman

Re: Is it just me, or does anyone else think Sprint flubbed this launch?

My 2c

  • Many customer service reps knew nothing about the phone or what plans it required
    • I called over and over again to SPrint, went to 3 stores (both in Greenville, one in Fuquay), they were all as clueless as I.
    • Bestbuy reps were able to tell me that it required data, but didn't know it required specific plans (which I later found out on the 11th)
  • There was next to no advertising (and in my opinon Verizon stole the HTC Android thunder with their Google annoucement)
    • Z E R O advertising.
  • Account Services didn't seem to know much more than customer service
  • Best Buy (Sprint's mobile sales partner) was equally disorganized with their pre-launch early release and lack of knowledge around various stores
    • I found it at BB about 2 weeks ago... just a crappily printed display page (not even color... I mean it looked like it came in over a fax). They told me more info was online a their site and sprints... NEITHER had it.
  • The number of phones available on launch day (at least by me) was shameful - just 8 at the coroporate store, 2 at each of 3 kiosks, 0 at one mall store, and (I'm guessing) fewer than 10 at BB
    • Same at all 3 stores I tried.
  • The launch took place on a holiday weekend (Columbus Day) such that no mail would be delivered on Monday so no phones would be replenished until Tuesday at the earliest, but probably more like Wed. or Thurs. - 3 or 4 days after launch is lame considering the paltry stock they had to start with
    • Yea I wasn't even aware of the holiday until Monday. Awaiting mine to arrive around Friday.

To the above... it doesn't cost much to put textual information on their website a few days early.  Less questions and less wait at the store or on the phone. Heck, I find what is there NOW to be P A T H E T I C.

Journeyman

Re: Is it just me, or does anyone else think Sprint flubbed this launch?

You're so right about this.  Sprint did a horrible job promoting this phone.  From the very beginning it started with the announcement.  It was announced on the developers website at about 4am, later that day a "official" press release was dropped.  As much fanfare as other Android handsets were given on T-Mobile I was surprised that Sprint didn't come out either with a HTC Rep or Rubin from Google.  The communication was horrible.  I would walk into a Sprint store and ask about the Hero and they had no idea when it would be released, and this was still with only 10 days until launch.  Best Buy had no clue and they were a exclusive partner in the launch.  A week out and no BB I spoke with knew anything. To say the launch was piss poor would be a understatement I think.  Even Mods on this forum board had bad info they were passing along.  I posted about this same subject before the launch because I love Sprint and I think they make mistakes that are easy to fix.  Most of the problems could be fixed if Sprint would talk to Sprint.  How do you have a press release about a new phone with a date of that phones release and no one in the Corporate stores knows the release date?  I can understand if its a cheap flip but we are talking Pres and Heros  everyone in the store should know exactly what I'm talking about and run to help.  I have dealt with bad companies before but never had issues with a company just giving  conflicting info over and over again. 

The other thing is even though I think this is a better phone than the Pre, I think its going to be a poor seller in terms of units moved.  This phone was great for me because I'm already a Sprint customer but if you're with another carrier why would you leave them to run to Sprint?  Very soon 3 out of 4 carriers will have Android phones and Sprint has done nothing to show case the Hero..Forget product placements because they always look contrived, and stop running from your mistake of spending whatever you did to market the Instinct.  We all remember how that went and somehow you got people to buy it but I'm sure you didn't get your moneys worth.  Spend some money to show the Hero, in fact use some guerilla marketing, give the Hero a Facebook page let people comment on it, its a great phone don't be scared

I wish they would give me a modest salary, and some authority.  Sprints problems are simple to fix but are they willing to do what it takes to get it fixed. 

Journeyman

Re: Is it just me, or does anyone else think Sprint flubbed this launch?

I'd have to agree, both BB and Sprint lacked in advertising for the roll out of this device. However, from various forums I heard that BB was doing pre-orders for $50 down, so I booked it to my local BB on October 1st.  Received $50 BB Mobile Gift Card to be used towards the purchase of the phone on release day, October 11th. Plus with BB, no MIR's which is also a plus for me. Then over that same weekend of the first, a rumor started about getting it early from BB on October 9th if you're a Reward Zone member. Not much info existed about this, so after a few days passed, I went the email route and emailed my store manager and the district manager (now October 5th).

To my surprise, the very next couple of hours after I sent my email, a reply came back, neither of which could confirm the early release. Next morning on October 6th, they confirmed the rumor to be correct, and that a device would be waiting for my on Friday October 9th. The other beef I have is that the only hype existed about this device came from from forums that I frequent daily, other than that, know one knew anything about this phone. Anticipating a mad rush to purchase the phone, I showed on Friday morning about 20 minutes before the store opened. Guess what? I was the only person there picking up the phone early. Anyway, for the most part, Sprint reps and BB didn't know much about the device, I blame that on their management. Oh and I forgot to add, I finally received my email notification from Sprint indicating the Hero was ready to purchase, on October 11th! I had it already!!

Message was edited by: PCTEK

Message was edited by: PCTEK

Journeyman

Re: Is it just me, or does anyone else think Sprint flubbed this launch?

My take on this is that this is no different then most Sprint phone launches.  This is not the first time I have been waiting for a phone The Instinct & BlackBerry Cure were the other ones I picked up on their launch date. In both of these cases there was one person in the store who seemed to have any knowledge of the phone & this was limited to how to activate it. This time I bought my phone at Best Buy & was much happier with the service I received. At best buy they were aware of the two people in the mobile department were aware of my phone & had at least some basic knowledge of the phone & how it worked much different then the sprint store where I knew more then the sales rep setting up the service on the phone.

This holds true with this launch as I went to a Sprint store on launch day to purchase a case (Best Buy did not have any in stock on Friday).  When I went in the reps gathered around me for a demo of the phone because the day crew had sold them all, they did not have a working model & the only information they had was a one page flyer on how to activate the phone.  I was assaulted with questions on how the phone worked, the features, android market & even had one rep ask what type of person the phone is suited for & how to recommend this phone vs the Pre.

This was not a new experience for me at Sprint as the same thing happened when I purchased the Instinct.  The curve was different because Black Berry has been around for a while & most people have a general knowledge of  what a Black Berry is & how it works.

In the future I will be making my phone purchases at Best Buy (at least for launches) because even though there was confusion at Best Buy about the pre-sale, when I arrived Friday Morning to pick up the phone, the people there where helpful & knew about the product that I was picking up.

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