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In February, T-Mobile laid off a number of employees within its Metro By-T-Mobile prepaid business. The move shook up the industry as T-Mobile had long promised that the T-Mobile-Sprint merger would lead to more jobs and more competition in the wireless space. Shortly after the layoffs, the Communications Workers of America reissued a statement saying that their research indicated the merger would result in a loss of 30,000 jobs. According to the National Wireless Independent Dealer Association, the layoffs were for positions like Analysts and Administrative Assistants that T-Mobile deemed redundant. T-Mobile decided it would use corporate departments to provide those services for Metro.
Metro By-T-Mobile Ends Relationships With Non-Exclusive Dealerships
Unfortunately, those February layoffs aren't the only harm to come Metro and its associated employees and dealer networks. NWIDA just confirmed another change has been made that will impact Metro's network of dealers. Multiple sources told NWIDA that Metro By-T-Mobile has terminated all non-exclusive dealership stores. What that means is if a dealer sold wireless service for other providers alongside Metro, they can no longer sell Metro.
So much for competition.
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NWIDA believes this change will impact somewhere between 250-750 stores. The stores have been given 120 days notice that their relationship with Metro is coming to an end. BestMVNO reached out to industry analyst Jeff Moore, Principal of Wave7 Research for perspective on how much of an impact this will have on the total number of stores and dealerships nationwide that carry the Metro brand.
"For Metro, this is small potatoes, as the number of non-exclusive doors -- estimated at 250-750 by NWIDA -- is small compared to Metro's 9K+ exclusive doors. Also, Metro volumes are greatly larger via exclusive dealers. For multi-carrier dealers, this is decision time, as they need to decide whether to put all eggs in the Metro basket or continue to sell various prepaid brands."
If the T-Mobile-Sprint merger is to provide more jobs and increased competition, the early returns haven't been promising. And things could be about to get worse for dealers.
Metro By-T-Mobile Poised To Launch Online Device Sales
Metro By-T-Mobile has been telling its customer base through social media that online device sales will be available soon. A similar statement is echoed on Metro By-T-Mobile's website under their COVID-19 response FAQ's page.
It is unknown exactly when those online device sales are returning and if it will be a permanent or temporary move. BestMVNO reached out to a couple of T-Mobile/Metro representatives for comment on the situation but neither was able to provide a date or much else at this time.
Update 04/18/2020: A representative has confirmed to BestMVNO that online device sales at Metro are now permanent, and not just a temporarily offering.
Many Metro subscribers have longed for the ability to be able to purchase a device online. And now it is an important thing to have due to the current public health threat. Metro is the only prepaid provider on the market that does not allow online device purchases. Despite that limitation, Metro is still the most successful prepaid brand in the country with an estimated 18 million+ subscribers. By restricting device purchases to in-store only, Metro has been able to support and sustain its dealer network. However, if online sales do permanently return, it could prove to be a double-edged sword, one that helps consumers but to the detriment of dealers.
Update 04/17/2020: Online device sales are now back a Metro and you can check them out here https://www.metrobyt-mobile.com/shop/phones. A limited number of devices are available for purchase at this time. Some deals and devices are still in-store only such as the newly launched $29.99 iPhone 7 deal.