Metro by T-Mobile dealers fight for prepaid

Concerned about changes that could be afoot in their relationship with T-Mobile, dealers who sell Metro by T-Mobile prepaid services took to Twitter to raise their collective voice over the weekend.

A group known as Metro Dealers Unity Group is concerned about proposed changes in how T-Mobile does business with them. A source representing the group, who spoke with Fierce via email and direct messaging, said the group represents about 100 dealers.

Among their concerns: a requirement that dealers get 100% of their accessories through one company, thereby removing less expensive alternatives, and potentially seeing their commissions spread over six months rather than just a few.

Jon Freier, executive vice president of Consumer Markets at T-Mobile, responded to dealers via Twitter on Sunday morning, saying: “Our door is always open,” and setting up a dialog that’s expected to continue into this week.

A message circulated among dealers said: "It’s time to unite, stand up and make it known that our voice matters” and called for all stores to close on Monday, August 31. Sources today said they didn't agree with the temporary closure of all stores, but the message went on to say that as of 10/1, accessories would have to be bought from Alpha Comm, among other things. The message ended with “Dealers Livelihood Matter” and “Dealers Lives Matter.”

RELATED: Report: Metro by T-Mobile puts non-exclusive dealers on notice

The source representing Metro Dealers Unity Group, who remained anonymous, said the group was not responsible for that message but that the reference to “Dealers Lives Matter” was probably there because in some urban areas, stores have bulletproof glass and T-Mobile “has hinted” toward removal of that safety measure.

Fierce reached out to T-Mobile for comment and will update this article based on the company’s response.

The Metro Dealers Unity Group source who corresponded with Fierce said their compensation formula is a concern and they don’t want to be treated like postpaid. Other concerns are related to residuals and basically making sure prepaid wireless remains competitive.

T-Mobile’s merger with Sprint likely influenced some of the changes, the source said.

As of April, Metro by T-Mobile had about 9,000 stores nationwide, of which about 98% are run by independent dealers as opposed to company-owned stores, according Wave7 Research. Earlier this year, dealers were told they could sell only Metro by T-Mobile rather than other brands alongside Metro if they wanted to continue selling the service.