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

T-Mobile isn’t commenting, but according to reports, Metro by T-Mobile has given notice to non-exclusive dealers that they won’t be allowed to sell Metro by T-Mobile if they sell other brands.

The National Wireless Independent Dealer Association (NWIDA) on Friday confirmed, from multiple sources, that Metro by T-Mobile had given a 120-day termination notice to stores that are non-exclusive, which means they sell other prepaid brands alongside Metro by T-Mobile.

NWIDA said it believed between 250 and 750 stores were given notice. Metro by T-Mobile has about 9,000 stores nationwide, of which about 98% are run by independent dealers as opposed to company-owned stores, according to Jeff Moore, principal of Wave7 Research.

“They’ve been moving in that direction,” against the multi-carrier model, Moore told FierceWireless, adding he thinks many of the stores will be given the opportunity to sell exclusively for Metro, but some might not be within the proper radius to avoid overlap with other stores.  

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As for the reason, it doesn’t seem highly motivated by cost-cutting measures since dealers themselves pay their own rent.

“I think they want dealers who are all in on Metro,” and not selling Metro side by side next to brands like Ultra Mobile and H2O Wireless, Moore said.

Fierce reached out to T-Mobile for comment and will update the story if there’s a response.  

Wave7 does quarterly surveys of independent, multi-brand dealers and the latest quarterly results show Simple Mobile, H2O Wireless, Ultra Mobile, AT&T Prepaid and Verizon Prepaid were ranked among the top-selling prepaid brands.

Boost Mobile, which last week introduced a new $15 plan with 2 GB of data, is in the midst of changing ownership from Sprint to Dish Network, but Moore said it’s his understanding Boost has been operating like an independent entity for a while now. Boost historically has flipped and flopped on the multi-carrier channel model; it had about 6,000 exclusive doors at last count.  

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While the major operators have closed most of their company-owned retail stores amid the COVID-19 outbreak, that doesn’t include the mom and pop dealers out there that sell independently.

The vast majority of Metro and Boost dealers outside malls remain open, with social distancing practices including regularly wiping down counter surfaces and putting tape on the floor to indicate proper distance from counters.

According to Wave7, as of a couple weeks ago, 70% of Cricket stores were open; Cricket is a prepaid brand held by AT&T.