US study reveals consumer dissatisfaction with mobile redemption process

New data from MCE Systems confirms $50 billion Untapped opportunity for the mobile device industry

DALLAS, June 22, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — MCE Systems Ltd., the global leader in mobile device lifecycle management, today announced a new research study showing the huge unrealized potential of mobile take-backs. This study reveals why US consumers keep their old mobile devices and exposes their dissatisfaction with the current trade-in process. On average, American households have four or more phones in their drawers, which amounts to up to 550 million idle phones across America, representing a $50 – 60 billion in unrealized value for consumers, either in cash or by reducing their monthly cost for a new device. Currently, only 15% of new smartphones are sold as trade-ins. The results highlight the potential for mobile operators to significantly increase consumer pick-ups and satisfaction by delivering a state-of-the-art pick-up experience to their customers.

This depth studywhich included more than 3,000 U.S. respondents, identified the size of the current trade-in market, the untapped opportunity, the issues preventing 42% of cellphone owners from trading in their devices, and the frictions encountered among the 58% who had traded in in a device.

Looking at the motivation to trade in their devices, the top three reasons are:

  1. Upgrade to a better phone (44%)
  2. Reduce the monthly cost of their new phone (30%)
  3. Replace a damaged phone (24%)

By diving deep into the current recovery experience of the 3 major US carriers (Verizon, AT&T and Sprint/T-Mobile), this research reveals the sources of friction that are undermining trust. Specifically, consumers identified issues related to time taken, price transparency, and timing of credit:

  • 95% say it took more than 5 minutes
  • 42% of consumers say the redemption process took over 30 minutes
  • 29% say their trade-in quote changed after phone inspection
  • 33% say the credit for their trade-in was not on their next bill
  • 24% say they had to call their mobile carrier multiple times during the recovery process
  • 18% complained about the recovery process
  • 29% felt the carrier benefited during the recovery process
  • 9% switched carriers due to an unsatisfactory trade-in experience

For operators, research shows that exchanges led to a 6 percentage point higher Net Promoter Score. However, research also shows that this was driven by promotions, and if promotions are removed, the NPS is 4 points lower than consumers who never traded in a device.

Among the 42% of consumers who have never traded in their devices, there is other information:

  • 66% didn’t even consider trading in their device
  • 34% said they had data backup and privacy issues
  • 23% didn’t think they would get enough money to make their old phone worth it
  • 23% didn’t know they could trade in their device

The study also included a concept test revealing a substantial opportunity for mobile operators if they made changes to their current recovery process. MCE calls this approach “Trade-in 2.0”, and the research validates the need for process improvements:

  • 80% of “Traders” would be more inclined to trade in their devices if operators adopted the Trade-in 2.0 solution
  • 70% of “never traders” would be more likely to trade in their devices if carriers offered Trade 2.0

Specifically, the concept test suggested operators address 4 key factors, convenience, speed, privacy and price transparency:

  • Provide an app: 53% of US consumers expect redemptions to require a store visit
  • Offer a price guarantee: 62% of US consumers believe they can’t get a fair price when trading in their mobile device
  • Make it easy: 42% of US consumers said the redemption process took more than half an hour
  • Keep it safe: 34% of US consumers were concerned that their privacy would be compromised when trading in their mobile device

“Consumers’ current understanding of the trade-in process exposes them to the possibility of missing out on lucrative opportunities to upgrade their devices, pocket money, and help reduce waste,” says Robert Hackl, President of MCE Systems. “Using the right enabling technology, the recovery process can be much better for consumers and operators. These findings underscore the need for a more streamlined recovery process that is a win-win for both customers and operators. key for me, which operators will lead the change and which will follow?”

Full survey results can be downloaded here.

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About MCE Systems:
MCE Systems is the pioneer in mobile device lifecycle management, having created more than $2.5 billion shareholder value for operators and their partners since 2005. MCE’s industry-leading solutions simplify operations, increase revenue and reduce inefficiencies. The specific solutions range from diagnosis and maintenance of devices to the management of trade-ins with a price guarantee, including the management of device returns. All are omnichannel ready with world-class virtualization and offer fully integrated data management to anticipate customer needs around device issues (e.g. device health, upgrade schedule). Over more than 15 years of experience, MCE Systems has become the trusted solution for Tier 1 operators and their partners.


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