It’s Good to be the King But Better to be a Monopolist

by Jeff Sovern

A personal rant.  Even consumer law professors have consumer irritations. 

Cell phones, including smart phones, occasionally develop problems. In the past, when that has happened, I've stopped by a local store run by my cell service provider and they have fixed the problem fairly quickly.  But last year I got an Iphone from that provider.  When it recently lost the capacity to connect via wifi, I went back to my local cell provider, but they said only Apple could cure the issue.  Unfortunately, though I live and work in a county (Queens) with over 2 million residents, we don't rate an Apple store.  As it happened, though, I would be going to Manhattan within a few days and Manhattan has been favored with several Apple stores, despite having a lower population than Queens (if you detect some outer-borough jealousy here, that's probably because I suffer from outer borough jealousy). 

Anyway, I dropped by a Manhattan Apple Store last night, located in what I think of as the Weil Gotshal building (non-laywers might know it as the GM Building). Alas, I hadn't known enough to make an appointment online and the next available appointment entailed a wait of hours–which was during the event I had come in for.  By the time I was able to find out when that event would be over and so I would be free to keep an appointment, the day's appointment calendar was full.

Today, I went online hoping to make an appointment at a different Apple Store in a neighboring county.  Again, no luck. The store was completely booked.  I finally made an appointment for Tuesday.

Apple may not be a monopolist in the sense that there are other phone manufacturers, but at least according to my cell service provider, they have a monopoly on service, once you have bought their phone.  And they obviously enjoy a monopoly on the Iphone.  If they faced greater competition, surely there would be an Apple Store providing service in Queens (which would be the fourth most populous city in the country if it weren't part of New York City).  You can buy Iphones all over Queens. Just not get them fixed.

0 thoughts on “It’s Good to be the King But Better to be a Monopolist

  1. Louise says:

    Dear Mr. Sovern:
    I sympathize with your feelings.
    This is a frustrating situation and I experienced it when I was using a Mac computer. In the end I gave up and I built myself a new desktop dinosaur with Windows. I opted to risk another operating system crash courtesy of Microsoft Indians tech supports rather than face no support at all.
    Following this line of thinking, when I felt the need to come out of my cave and buy a cell phone, I resisted the temptation to follow the crowd into the Mac-Trap. It was not easy, in spite of hours of research, I landed myself in an electronic sink hole the first time.
    Undaunted, I increased my research and hit pay dirt: a beautiful machine [HTC-One] and an equally user friendly supplier. When I need help, which is often as I am not cell phone-minded, I visit my local store and the smiling staff takes care of me very nicely. Furthermore, by buying the phone through that supplier, I made a remarkable saving.
    I cannot ask for more.
    I wish you all the best in your phone quest.

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