T-Mobile Stores Getting Slayed By AT&T Merger

Illustration for article titled T-Mobile Stores Getting Slayed By ATT Merger

An early victim of the AT&T / T-Mobile merger has turned out to be independent T-Mobile store owners. They're already getting screwed by a merger that's eventually going to be bad for everyone.

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The Wall Street Journal reports that there are some 9200 AT&T and T-Mobile stores nationwide, and 41 percent of AT&T stores have a T-Mobile store within one mile. Unsurprisingly, this is one area where the merged company plans to save money by shuttering many of those stores. This is bad news for independent dealers. Worse, store owners can't know which stores are targeted for sunsetting reports the Journal.

[T-Mobile store owners] aren't allowed to communicate with AT&T about store planning while regulators are considering the deal. A decision is expected in early 2012.

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Look, phone stores are basically the used car dealers of our era, full of swindlers more interested in making a sales bonus than an honest buck. And while it's tempting to chuckle at their misfortune, I'm sad to see this happen. It means less competition (which is bad for all of us), fewer jobs, and as the WSJ notes, a hit on an already depressed real-estate market.

A rash of store closings would be another headache for commercial landlords still digging out from store closings and bankruptcy filings by large retailers like Borders Group Inc., Circuit City and Linens 'n Things. Outdoor strip malls, which are popular with wireless stores, have been particularly hard hit, with a 10.9% vacancy rate that is expected to rise to a 21-year peak this year, according to research firm Reis Inc.

Hey, on the upside, your rates will probably go up, which will be good for AT&T executives. Great news, right?

[Wall Street Journal]

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DISCUSSION

geekymitch
geekymitch

Look, I get what the article is saying but well...let me give an example.

Around the corner from me is Rt 22, a fairly major highway in NJ. If I make a left onto Rt 22 immediately I see an AT&T store. About 1/2 mile further down the road is an AT&T "Express" store, as well as a verizon wireless store. A mile further down is a sprint store.

Now, if I instead make a right I need to drive a good 3 miles. At that point I'll pass a "flagship" style AT&T store, a mom n pop cell phone shop, a T mobile store, and a sprint store all within about 500 yards of each other.

Now look, I appreciate that cell phones are an important part of every day life...but thats 8 cell phone shops within a 4 mile radius. That's not even including the Best Buy, Staples (times 2), PC Richard (times 2) and the like that are also within that area. The truth is, with a large percentage (I'm sure) of orders being fulfilled online there is just no reason for this much coverage! On any interstate highway I've ever been on, you can't take a piss without hitting a place that sells cell phones! Do I feel bad for the mom and pop shop? Of course...but I for one have never bought anything in one of them, and I'd wager a majority of others havent either.

All of that having been said, I agree that the reduction in competition is a loss for all of us.