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The sociology of the cell phone store, and what it means to you

  • TC2 Blog
  • 4/26/2012
  • David Rohde

You probably do so anyway in the course of events, but if you haven’t been in a wireless retail store in even the last six months, make an excuse to check one out again.

The last couple of times I’ve been in a Verizon store in Northern Virginia, the sense of stratification between two distinct customer groups was palpable. Of course the stores were very busy, and most of the people were in there signing up for cool stuff. But both times there were also a number of customers who came in with anxiety written all over their faces.

Almost as soon as they walked in, they would start pleading with the store staff: “Please kind sir, I really only want this for phone calls and to be reached in an emergency, please don’t charge me a lot of money, please oh please.” It was as if they knew that the moment they entered, they would be caught up in the vortex of mobile broadband communications and walk out penniless.