Cellphone users would like loyalty perks

ByABC News
July 30, 2007, 2:00 PM

SAN FRANCISCO -- Business travelers already earn loyalty points from airlines and hotels. Why not for cellphone service?

A new study out today from researcher In-Stat says such a program would go a long way toward winning over these lucrative but unhappy customers.

In-Stat surveyed 935 business cellphone users. Of those who spend at least $150 a month on service, more than 60% say they don't think their carrier appreciates them. About 1.8% of this group switches carriers each month, In-Stat says. That's 40% more turnover than among customers who spend less than $50 a month.

Fixing the problem is simple, In-Stat analyst Bill Hughes says. Most heavy cellphone users are also travelers. (About 89% of travelers on the road more than half the time spend more than $75 a month, he says.) Travelers are used to loyalty programs offered by airlines, hotels and rental car companies. For that reason, a loyalty program is the No. 1 perk desired by big spenders, Hughes says.

"We should be recognized," says Bob Zigler, 62, a salesman in Newark, Del. Zigler spends 90 days a year on the road, and racks up a $190 monthly cell bill. Despite that, "right now I am not being offered anything (extra)," he says.

Loyalty programs allow members to accrue points for money spent or trips taken with a particular company. These points can be redeemed for goods and services, such as free flights or hotel rooms.

Cellphone carriers say they're trying to satisfy customers in other ways. AT&T says it offers big discounts if customers sign up for long-term contracts.

Sprint has a loyalty program, but it's only offered to businesses that spend more than $250 a month. If more customers asked for it, "it is something we would definitely consider," spokesman Roni Singleton says.