Once I saw the BlackBerry Tour for Verizon selling for $99 at Best Buy, there was no turning back. I’ve been using an unlocked BlackBerry 8900 on T-Mobile for almost a year and it was time for a change. I wasn’t even using minutes on T-Mobile. Instead, my BlackBerry had become a data-only device. Only $50 to cancel the remainder of my 1-year contract with T-Mobile? Done. Did I mention that I’ve been using an unlocked device (purchased elsewhere) and never should have been forced to sign a contract with T-Mobile to begin with? Oh well, that’s how carriers roll here. So long as they know dinosaurs will always die … someday. Anyway, this was my first time purchasing a phone under carrier contract at a third-party store. After a couple hiccups, everything went pretty smoothly. All in all, the entire process took 45 minutes and most of that time was spent training my customer service rep.
Inside the store there was no wait to get things started, and by the time I got back into my car the number porting magic was already happening. I was able to watch over the rep as she used the Best Buy Mobile software program that interfaces with each of the major carriers sign-up processes. Pretty basic stuff. When I interviewed Best Buy Mobile CEO Shawn Score last December he told me the software speeds up the process. I can’t say that happened for sure in my experience yesterday, but at least the rep didn’t harass me about insurance and accessories. There was a minor snafu during the sign-up and so I basically had to give the rep all of my information twice, but the experience wasn’t any worse than those I’ve had in a Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon store. Making things even better, Best Buy is selling the Tour for $100 less than Verizon and I don’t have to wait for any rebates in the mail. Plus, they threw in a free battery cover from Research In Motion. I like to see Best Buy and others giving the carriers a run for their money when it comes to device sales. Cheaper is enough to get my business, but when you throw in no rebate waiting game and a more smooth process, why would anyone do their business at a carrier store?