Recently I wrote about Mobitel LiveScreen because I was unhappy about the experience.
As soon I published that on my Facebook page (850+ likes), it instantly took vast public attention. So far it reached 13,000+ people without targeted advertising. Given my page’s member base is small, the post made a significant reach. Unless advertised none of my other blog posts ever reached more than 500 people on average. By the time of this writing, I’ve seen more people have started to voice against VAS scams which is a good trend.
Get the message, Mobitel? Lots of people think that you violate proper business etiquette.
Mobitel staff may think I’m a douchebag, but I am certainly not that type. I am a loyal customer who always appreciate quality service (examples available). But when it comes to daylight robbery, I can turn into a real pain-in-ass customer. From the feedback I received from readers, I realize that every Sri Lanakn telco is playing this dirty game.
So, what now, if Mobitel (and other telcos) care to listen?
Value Added Services (VAS) in Sri Lankan telco industry probably have a history over more than 10 years (history that I know of). At that time the devices we used had limited capabilities. GPRS for Internet. No Viber/ WhatsApp/ SnapChat. WAP played God. SMS and MMS ruled.
In that era, downloading a celebrity’s portrait and setting it as phone’s screen background was a real deal. Now some people might be thinking, why can’t you simply download it, crop it by yourself and then set as wallpaper? There were several real world problems with that.
That problems enabled telcos to make some extra profit out of a wallpaper and ringtone business through WAP sites. I remember people used to download wallpapers, ringtones, and even games through WAP sites. It didn’t end up there. Content such as jokes, astrology, religious prayers were delivered to subscribers’ phones as SMS at a fee. This used to be a service that people wanted.
Now it’s 2016. We have Android that supercharged the mobile phone users. Most have smartphones. We have Google that will get us what we need effortlessly. Facebook has a lot of memes that you can enjoy. Lot of free and paid games are out there in Google Play. Almost everything is available for free. Zedge has a plethora of wallpapers and ringtones.
Do customers still want WAP-based entertainment sites? I don’t think so. That era is gone. Unfortunately, telcos such as Mobitel and Etisalat don’t seem to realize this. Or rather, they pretend to be not seeing it. Instead of striving to deliver value to the customer, they desperately attempt to hard-sell the same WAP content – just like Darley road car accessory traders do.
- By unsolicited activation of LiveScreen on newly purchased/ replaced SIM cards. These pop ups appear intermittently in a way that ‘OK’ button (meaning ‘I Agree’) could be unintentionally touched.
- By directly exposing our accounts to third party content providers to bill us as they wish. So, if a pop-up ad in a web page is touched accidentally, you don’t even know but they bill us on the spot.
(I can provide more detailed logical explanations on why this is not gentlemanly – if you happen to lack of common sense)
Are these telcos too lazy to innovate?
As a customer, I do not see why should I pay Rs. 30/ month to get home remedies via SMS. There is a plenty of Facebook pages that offer the same for free. I do not see why should I pay a WAP site to download pictures of a fashion model when Google gets me there for free. Rather than investing in an innovative service that delivers what customer needs, these telcos have totally ditched the sales etiquette, and they trade off their brand reputation for unsolicited VAS subscriptions.
Why don’t you do some market research to identify what kind of devices people use? I hardly think Android users who have subscribed to mobile data-included packages will have any interest in jokes via SMS. Why can’t you do a little market research to understand what people actually need? I have absolutely no interest in what happens around Bollywood, but there are other things that I’m interested in. As a busy worker, I’d rather be interested in things like road traffic alerts, train delays, freelancing opportunities, etc. Also, it’s worth understanding that SMS is only good for things that need urgent attention, such as breaking news alerts and job search.
Just think about your brand reputation and what customers are ought to do about this next. No more daylight robbery, please.