Docomo advertises the Xperia A as costing ¥78,120. While this is in fact the price set by Docomo, the actual total cost varies by ¥3,000 to ¥4,000 between various Docomo shops. On top of this, the full price is often not actually shown on the displays. I recently visited three different Docomo shops to compare differences in price.
Most of the shops fail to:
- Indicate the cost of the down payment (atama-kin 頭金).
- Explain that the displayed total price requires signing up for "add-on" services.
The price displayed is when adding the specified options.And, at the top the cost of the down payment is shown is (¥3,150 reduced from ¥10,500).
This is where the variations between shops arise. Some shops are lowering the downpayment to zero, others to about ¥1,000. The down payment is the shop's revenue. The shops are also receiving money from Docomo for getting people to sign up for the option services.
Of course the option services are totally unnecessary and would cost you a lot of money each month, but because there is no early termination fee, they can be immediately cancelled. Most are also free for the first month. In total, signing up and immediately canceling would cost about ¥800.
The graph below shows the variations between the three shops. Yes, ¥90,000 for a phone is just stupid. If you shop around, you can get this phone for about a total of ¥25,000 which is much more reasonable. The graph doesn't include the approximate ¥800 cost of the option services.
HOWEVER, you cannot just pay ¥25,000 up front in be done with it. The cost after subsidy must be paid in installments. You either pay the full price upfront and get the subsidy as a discount off your bill every month, or you pay about ¥1,000 each month for the phone. Those are the only options.
Why would Docomo want to essentially give interest free loans? Simply to condition people to pay a certain amount on their bill each month.