2/21/2007 3:55:00 PM
Retailers say if connections wane operators will return
O2 and Vodafone could backtrack on their moves to pull back from independent multiples if connections slow or customers assert their right to choose, a retail source has claimed.
A former senior mobile retailer said: 'The networks are in uncharted territory and there are a lot of kneejerk reactions taking place.'
He said that O2 and Vodafone's move could be reversed if operators' contract connections began to wane.
'My guess is that O2 will pull out and go back to them; they are flexing muscle until their subscription numbers start falling. They still have shareholders to report to.'
He added: 'The networks are all copying each other. They think they can sell more direct. Perhaps it is a game of renegotiation. The networks are taking more control over customers and brand loyalty themselves, but a customer doesn't ask for a network, they ask for a phone. The retailers could try to demand more from the networks and there could be a bit of a stand-off. It isn't a case of friendly, impartial advice for the consumer any longer and it is more difficult for them to get the right deal, so there will be more shopping around in stores.'
Phones 4u store staff told Mobile they were surprised by the news. One commented: 'It's a bolt from the blue.'
Separately, a Phones 4u store manager said that for his own store, despite a relative decline in O2 connections across the business: 'It's bad news, because we do a lot of O2.'