Do you do your research before purchasing a phone?

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| November 3, 2012


While working in a retail location for mobile devices, you have a lot of people who have no intention of purchasing a phone any time soon wander in and ask for your opinion on different devices. It was a requirement for me to do my research about the devices beforehand so I didn’t accidentally “put” somebody in the wrong device. I would be lying if I didn’t say I have done that before on accident and didn’t pay my dues.

One of the most misunderstood factors about the retail industry, at least when it comes to cell phones, is that people think that the employees just want to get customers to buy the most expensive phone and shove them out the door so they can roll around in the thousands of dollars they just reaped from your wallet. However fun that might be for the employee, that’s not exactly how it works. Where I came from, people were actually a lot more honest than that, but that might not be the case for all stores.

A carrier’s biggest enemy is a monster known as the “Return/Exchange Goblin”. Every time you return a device or exchange it for a new one, the goblin comes and takes the company’s money. The carrier loses money, the employee loses money, and most of the time the customer also loses money. Everybody loses! That’s why it’s their job as a retail employee to help you choose the right device that fits your needs. Now, sometimes they’re bound to put you in the wrong device, simply by misunderstanding some things you said or maybe by not having the correct information about the device. However, you can avoid having to make an extra trip out to the store to return a device and possibly having to pay a “restocking” fee by doing your own research at home first.

Any time I go out to look at a phone I do as much research at home about it first. Honestly, I don’t value anyone’s opinion more than I value my own. That way if and when I mess up I can only blame myself for my terrible judgment. But I digress.

The best way to start your research adventure is by looking up the specs of the device you’re interested in. Nothing is better than cold hard facts, which is exactly what specs are. After you’re sure you like what you see spec-wise, then it’s time to see how it’s put into action. You can do three things at this point.

Your first option is to go read reviews by people who have owned the device, which is often available on the carrier’s website, but you can find them all over. Another good place to look for a review on a device would be YouTube, where you can see somebody actually using and going through the motions on the phone. There are also videos that compare two similar devices so you can see which one you prefer (we call them Dogfights). The last thing you can do to help you form your official opinion on a device is to actually go into a store and experience the device for yourself. Try to go on a slow day, though, because a lot of people may be trying to look at the device on a busy day.

No matter how many reviews you read or videos you watch, though, it may be a completely different experience when you actually have the device in your hands and you use it for a few days. It might be everything you wanted and more, or it might be nothing like you expected it to be. But that’s why they have the return and exchange policy, for the people who really need it. You’ll just reduce your odds of having to use it if you are able to do some research beforehand.

So readers, do you read up on a phone before you go to purchase it? Or do you prefer to get the opinion of somebody else? Let me know what you think!