The Philosophy of PhoneCan: Consumer Callout Edition

The editors, writers, and contributors of this site frequent many online forums.  We do this in conjunction with PhoneCan’s mission: to help consumers.

Our long-term goal, both as online citizens and as our own site, is to empower consumers to get the best price, the best phone, and the best experience - all by their own efforts.  We provide insight into the industry, a view of how the business works from the inside, and how to speak the language of “wireless.”  To us, education is the key to getting the best deal and the best situation for your needs.  This has been the personal mission for each of us, even long before we joined up on PhoneCan.  We’ve been a voice of compassion for the consumer, both in our personal and professional interactions, as well as on this site.

Now, we’re going to mix things up a bit.

While we aren’t changing our mission to empower and educate consumers, we’ve decided to add to that education.  We’ve decided that it’s long overdue for a wakeup call to certain parts of the consumer base.

It’s time to tell it like it is.

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For as long as there has been a cell phone business, consumers have often been at odds with the companies they pay for service.  As logically-minded insiders, we understand that there are policies and practices that seem contrary to a positive customer experience.  Some of them we understand - these companies are businesses, not non-profit charitable organizations.  Others we don’t, especially when something is simply good practice for happy and loyal customers.

The saying goes that one bad apple ruins a bunch.  There are bad apples as companies.  There are bad apples working at companies.  But the “bad apple” cliché isn’t limited to companies and the people who work for them.  It also applies to consumers as well.

Now, I’m not talking about ALL consumers.  I’m not even talking about most.  I’m talking about a small portion of the overall wireless customer base.  But if you’ve ever held onto an apple that’s gone bad, you know that a single apple’s nastiness effects the entire bunch.

I’m sure you’ve seen them.  They are the type of customer who is devoid of logic and cannot reason with the reality of the wireless business.  The customer with unreasonable demands.  The customer who assumes they are working with a Mom & Pop operation that will bend over backwards to keep them as a customer, when in reality they’re working with one of many multi-billion dollar operations with dozens of executives and tens of thousands of employees.  The customer who makes assumptions based on what they want to believe and ignore the rational information coming from those who have the correct information.  The customer who had their mind set on using whatever means possible to manipulate the system because no matter how fair it is to both parties, it’s never what the bad apple wants to hear.

Knowing the philosophy of this site, and having spoken with many of the people who read our site and send us questions, I know that those types of consumers don’t frequent this site.  They frequent sites like PhoneScoop.com, Engadget.com, a handful of popular forums and sites.  They even manage to park themselves on Facebook discussion forums.  Some of the people involved with PhoneCan, as well as many others who are not, try diligently to help people with legitimate concerns in these forums.  But all too often lately, those attempts to help others have been hindered by the bad apples out in the consumer pool, and it’s not just something the rest of us can ignore.  If we’re not the ones helping consumers understand the business, they’re taking in the messages of bad apples.  They are believing lies, deliberate misrepresentation, and misconceptions.  In effect, the bad apples are turning the others to rot.

And we’re sick of it.

We spend all day working with consumers - in our stores, on forums, on our personal blogs, and on PhoneCan.  Most consumers are decent people in need of our assistance, guidance, and expertise.  The few who are not are the ones who seek subvert our best efforts for their own misguided ends.

It’s time we spoke up.  It’s time we put credit where credit is due.

We’re going to start pointing out the bad apples in the bunch, through a series of articles.  Our hope is to show the good customers - people who read this kind of site - how the bad customers are making their experiences worse.  We plan to address some of the common misconceptions that exist among many consumers, from phone and plan pricing down to bogeyman experiences with customer service (hint: if someone thinks a rep they spoke with was rude, odds are the rep thought the same about the customer in that instance).

Naturally, we will continue to bring you the kind of helpful resources we are known for.  This isn’t a sounding board for us to complain about customers.  If that was our intent, there are plenty of sites we could go to for that kind of talk.  No, we’re merely tired of helping people who are more than willing to speak out, but never willing to listen.  We’re ready to show the good and bad sides of common issues within this business.

We hope that you will read with an open and logical mind.

Sincerely,

Epik & Menno, et al.