Everyone is in the same boat at the moment: all stores that are not considered vital must close due to the corona virus. In some federal states there are different regulations than elsewhere, but the principle is the same everywhere. That is why Telekom, Vodafone and O2 have decided to close their businesses nationwide or have been forced to do so.
Telekom: 500 stores closed
Sales and service in all 500 stores have been discontinued. This also applies to around 200 partner agencies in Germany. According to Deutsche Telekom, it is working together with the authorities on a solution to soon reopen some stores as a basic service for the population. However, all orders that have still been placed in the store yesterday will be processed.
Vodafone: partner agencies decide for themselves
Competitor Vodafone stores are also closed. “This means that our colleagues will no longer be available to the local population for personal advice and help until further notice. We ask our clients for their understanding. Therefore, we are following the federal government’s request to avoid further contact. The partner agencies in the individual federal states, which determine their business independently, decide, with the exception of a specific order from the federal states, when they close their businesses, ”says Düsseldorf.
O2: all stores closed
Stores are closed until further notice in all federal states in accordance with official requirements. “We are aware that we are currently providing a particularly important service to our customers and the citizens of this country with our telecommunications offerings. Accordingly, we are doing everything we can to continue serving our customers as fully as possible. “How things continue depends” to a great extent on future decisions by the federal government and local authorities. “
According to authorities, o2 has also closed all stores nationwide. We are currently doing everything we can to continue serving our customers as fully as possible. Use our self-services at https://t.co/Ra8gQPSZr2 and in the “My o2” application. #coronavirusdeutschland # COVID19 pic.twitter.com/v2X5yOOZWc
– Telefónica Germany (@telefonica_de) March 18, 2020
Internet Reference, Industry Association Critiques
The three network operators refer to hotlines, online services, and applications. However, in particular with regard to direct lines, it is also noted that store closures are likely to lead to increased volume and thus also to waiting times.
Store closings are not popular everywhere. “Telecom providers have adapted to a significantly increasing demand and need for advice in stores,” says Jürgen Grützner, CEO of VATM, for example. As an association, VATM represents a large part of the telecommunications industry. There is already a significantly higher demand for more efficient consulting services and connections. “In the coming days and weeks, many citizens will have to rely on higher data speeds and faster connections. This applies to fixed and mobile networks ”.
Safety precautions such as greater distance and disinfection can reduce the risk of infection to a minimum according to regulations. “The state must urgently ensure that citizens are not deprived of advice and the best possible communication, for example when working from home, and that they will continue to find open telecommunications deals in the coming weeks,” Grützner said in a statement. “Communication in operation, like other central areas, should be excluded from closures.”
Free traders feel abandoned
And Jan Freynick, managing partner of inside intermedia Shop GmbH & Co. KG (favento) and founder of inside digital, is also critical of the move. “Basically, it’s okay to restrict business so people stay home,” he says, underlining the general tenor. But he also questions what someone is doing whose cell phone is defective, stolen or whose contract has already been terminated and who wanted to find a new provider. “Certainly some of the clients will be able to help themselves on the Internet, but that doesn’t apply to all clients,” Freynick says.
And he also criticizes the fact that, as a two-store freelance specialist retailer, he feels abandoned. “Network operators and providers can intercept their customers through hotlines and websites. But we cannot and we are not allowed to do that ”. The reason: As a stationary store, you have no provider distribution options for distance selling, i.e. phone or internet. On the one hand, this refers to legal requirements such as the 14-day right of withdrawal, but also the lack of opportunities to register such contracts.
“If we were to advise a customer over the phone, he would complete the transaction online directly with the provider and we would leave empty-handed.” That is also his biggest fear for the economic future: “The customers we still had in our stores.” , are being forcibly directed to the Internet. This affects all industries, ”the retailer concluded, combined with the hope that customers will wait to make purchases until the stores are allowed to reopen.