Bargain hunters throng cell phone dealers
By Nicosia Smith
February 15, 2007
The crush of Digicel customers at the City Mall caused the doors to be shut.
Valentine's Day yesterday erupted in a cellular phone extravaganza as bargain hunters waited throughout the day in long queues for deals.
Cellular phone shoppers were enticed by free bags, free credit and the grand prize of a free ticket to see international artiste Akon, who was scheduled to perform last night at the National Park at a Digicel concert.
Causing the cell phone frenzy was GT&T Cellink Plus and Digicel, who staged launchings under their respective brand names yesterday. Both telecommunication providers launched aggressive marketing campaigns yesterday to outdo the other and it is anybody's guess who came out the winner. Phones were being offered at prices significantly lower than in the past.
GT&T's Michael George told Stabroek News yesterday afternoon that the campaign was "very, very successful" based on the feedback received. He noted that the $1,000 cell phones and $1,000 credit offer will go on for as long as stocks last and the company will be reviewing its stock level today.
GT&T yesterday offered customers a cell phone for $1,000 and $1,000 credit and had reduced prices on a range of cell phones. These bargains could be had at GT&T's retailers across the country and city locations saw long queues of bargain hunters.
The crowd that gathered for Cellink phones at Swansea on America Street
Digicel retailers, most of whom opened their doors yesterday for the first time, saw very long queues of shoppers seeking to get a phone and the grand prize of a ticket to the Akon show.
Popular cell phone locations at Bourda Market, Robb, Camp and Regent streets saw large crowds which at times became quite restless.
Stabroek News yesterday saw several locations where impatient shoppers crowded the entrance to retail outlets, with no clear indication of where the queue began or ended.
After 11 am, Stabroek News spoke with Jewel Mitchell of Albouystown at a Robb Street location of Digicel, after she had bought a Nokia C112 for $2,900.
Mitchell said she received a bag and a free ticket to the Akon show. For this shopper the enticement was not in the Akon ticket as she told Stabroek News that she really wanted to have a cell phone. Mitchell was not the only one in her family seeking a cell phone yesterday - her daughter had also shopped a Digicel phone. However, Mitchell said that she would have attended the Akon show with her free ticket.
While at the GT&T retail outlet at Gizmos and Gadgets on Wellington Street, one shopper said that after a successful call-in to a Channel 9 programme, she was told to go along with identification to the outlet for a free cell phone.
The woman, Bibi Haniff, of La Grange Public Road was standing with a one-year-old child a long way off from the outlet's entrance. Other shoppers were seen joining toward the front of the queue. This woman said that she was also told to take along $1,000.
Also at Gizmos, an East Coast man told this newspaper that he spent almost two hours in the queue and pretty much remained stationary, since many persons joined the queue from the front. The man told Stabroek News around 11:30 am that he would have waited a little while longer because he need a phone, since he did not have one. The man said that a woman sharing GT&T flyers on the street alerted him to the GT&T cellular phone deal and he decided to take up the offer.
It was as early as 7:30 am that a woman from the West Coast joined the queue. The woman told this newspaper that she would leave the Gizmos outlet since the queue seemed stationary, while other shoppers were joining from the side and there was much pushing. She explained that her cell phone was the first batch to be launched in Guyana but it was no longer receiving signals well.
At a Digicel outlet at the City Mall on Regent and Camp streets, B. Ramcharan said that she had waited in the queue since 8 am and would try again tomorrow if she was unable to get a phone yesterday. Ramcharan said she had heard of the Digicel sale and decided to buy a phone but was not too interested in the gifts that came with it.
A couple at the City Mall also waited quite a while before getting their Digicel phones. The man said that after visiting the doctor he decided to take advantage of the Digicel deal.
The couple had to wait some two hours in a queue before entering the outlet to purchase two phones. They also acknowledged that they had a GT&T phone but wanted a Digicel one as well. Both phones cost $7,740 and the couple also received two free tickets to the Akon show and two Digicel bags.
At around 1 pm at Bourda Market, Wireless Connections, a GT&T retailer, was all out of the $1,000 bargain phones. This newspaper observed that several persons were told by the sales clerk that the phones were finished but there were other bargains. Meantime, at the competing Digicel location nearby at Bourda, a man was heard screaming in disbelief that the Akon tickets were all finished.
After hearing the commotion, Stabroek News asked Roxanne Singh standing at the Digicel location to explain and she informed this newspaper that shoppers were told that the tickets had finished.
The man, however, was not taking no for an answer and kept pleading for a ticket with his purchase. Other shoppers nearby were visibly upset.
Singh told this newspaper that she was able to purchase her Digicel phone and received a show ticket with her purchase of $3,000, along with a bag. This woman was also a GT&T customer but explained that she needed both services. Singh said that she would have attended the show.