I guess that is why I do everything online or via CS on the phone.
Stores are there to SELL. Reps, do not like to take time upgrading phones as there is not any money in it for them. That is why SOME stores have a service department, so sale reps can sell. Plus as sales reps, they don't have any technical expertise.
Another way of saying that, what you're saying is no difference from Mall Kiosks.
All three of those stores have a service department
It WAS(emphasis on past tense) the post purchase service that made VZW stand out. It doesn't necessarily have the best coverage. On a local community college campus, I have almost no reception. Excellent reception on T-Mobile. Like everyone else, they have good and bad spots.
Some people were willing to pay the premium price for the assurance of great service locally. On the other hand, Sprint had less than stellar customer service, but their service is cheaper.
I can buy whatever I want on VZW.com and have UPS bring it to me. So, why go to a store?