Are Mobile Companies Using Deceptive Marketing In Pakistan?

Posted on January 17, 2008
Filed Under >Babar Bhatti, Economy & Development, Science and Technology
Total Views: 44451


Babar Bhatti

I have been observing a trend of aggressive marketing and advertisement by the mobile operators in Pakistan. 50 paisa, 3 paisa, 1 paisa. Trying to one-up other competitors, the advertisements emphasise the lowest possible rate to grab attention.

In reality the low rates being advertised come with many conditions. To figure it out one has to read the fine print carefully. I think this is unfair to the consumers and we need to criticize this trend which some may characterize as deceptive marketing. Have a look at these sample advertisements given with this post. Click on the photos for their enlarged image and good luck with the fine print.

Over the years mobile service packages have become difficult to understand. It used to be pre-pay & postpay and in-network & out-of-network. Now there is the option of lower price for pre-defined numbers (usually in-network) such as family and friends. Then there is the billing duration which used to be 1 minute in good old days. Not anymore. The rates advertised are usually based on lowest billing duration (say 30 seconds) and may only be valid during certain times (e.g. Paktel’s Power Hours are 7 pm – 10 pm). The billing duration for the same package can vary for in-network and out of network calls!

Given all of the complexity, it is difficult for a common person to easily understand and compare these plans. I mean who has time to analyze all of this (except your truly)? My guess is that most of the time people get upset but carry on with their busy lives. Wouldn’t it be fair if all the operators advertisements included the rate for 1 minute call clearly? How about being more up-front and making the fine print a bit less fine?

I think this problem is common to all operators, therefore all of them should share the responsibility to create a baseline standard. Better to fix this now before the regulator (PTA) is asked to step in.

See earlier ATP Post on ‘Dangerous Advertising’.

19 Comments on “Are Mobile Companies Using Deceptive Marketing In Pakistan?”

  1. Daktar says:
    January 14th, 2008 1:30 am

    Whether they are good for consumers or not, it is clear that these cell phone companies are great for the advertising industry in pakistan. Wherever you turn you see mobile company adds, and mostly good ones.

  2. Eidee Man says:
    January 14th, 2008 3:46 am

    Understanding fare tariffs might especially be challenging for older and illiterate customers. However, the mobile phone industry in Pakistan is one of a handful that are actually very healthy. Customers in the U.S. would love to have such a democratized market…the plans here are much more expensive and come with loads of restrictions (like not being able to use your phone with another network), huge penalties (try 30 rupees a minute if you go over your limit), and bad plans (you have to sign a 1-2 year agreement for most plans).

  3. KO says:
    January 14th, 2008 4:02 am

    Yes, the pricing here is very deceptive. Taxes are often not included in the rates advertised, nor or other charges like “off-net” calls and so on.

    Even now if you make a lot of calls it’s cheaper in the US, as a lot of carriers offer a flat rate for unlimited (or close to unlimited) calls within the US. You do have to sign a contract for a year or two, but for lower prices I would do so too.

  4. January 14th, 2008 6:17 am

    Hi! Here in Italy we have almost 5 or 6 mobile companies and massive marketing submerges TV, street commercials, newspapers and so on.. You can choose the one you prefer, but it’s always important to watch out ’bout the real fares and offers. Regards
    (ps: I love Pakistan!)

  5. Pakistan Zindabad says:
    January 14th, 2008 11:10 am

    PTA or some other authority in the country should produce an advertisement including the gross statistics showing all operators at the same time and their comparative analysis so the best one can be judged periodically. Anyway the mobile in Pakistan is much cheaper than in many other countries even after the so called deceptive marketing.

  6. Haris says:
    January 14th, 2008 1:07 pm

    a good for a website is to bring out the details of these plans and also compare them.

  7. TAHIR says:
    January 14th, 2008 1:13 pm

    very impressed by this blog. So many posts on the front page and all on very different Pakistan topics by all different authors.

  8. TEE BEE says:
    January 14th, 2008 1:15 pm
  9. Masroor Ahmed Rehan says:
    January 15th, 2008 3:08 am

    The cellular market in Pakistan has gone through very rapid growth. Now mobile phone service is not only for the elite but has become a necessity for almost all segments of the society. Now a cell phone is owned and used by people belonging to very diversified economic groups.
    The plethora of charging plans; the cellular companies are trying to address the individual needs of each target market. The competition to acquire new customers and to retain the existing one has become so fierce that now the cellular operators have to fight for small groups. They must listen to individual needs, in one

  10. Masroor Ahmed Rehan says:
    January 15th, 2008 3:17 am

    Cellular companies are only using fine prints

  11. Masroor Ahmed Rehan says:
    January 15th, 2008 3:22 am

    An organization to protect and promote the interests of all Pakistani consumers – by educating them about their rights and by providing them independent information.

  12. Agadir says:
    January 28th, 2008 4:07 am

    Most of companies are addvertisng their companies but everyone are not number 1 Because peoples want advantage from these companies,they will
    want taht who gives them benefit and best pakage they use that.
    Advertising is a good way of marketing.But it is peoples thinking and peoples wants,quantity and quality also.Which they are like.

  13. Saad says:
    March 19th, 2008 1:44 am

    Clearly you haven’t seen the antics Rogers & bell run in Canada.

    Anything is better than that. A chameleon telling me about its color will probably more truthful than either of the two mentioned above.

  14. Mir Tabassum Mairaj says:
    May 10th, 2008 9:47 am

    Nobody can match most of the advertisers and politicians in Pakistan in making false promises. They believe in “you can fool all the people all the time” (sorry to Abraham Lincoln).

  15. hussnain says:
    June 10th, 2008 8:10 am

    I like your web site.No indian staff just for pakistan.Keep up the good work.All me best wishes & prayers are for you.
    Keep up the good work

  16. Qaiser Janjua says:
    August 9th, 2008 6:06 am

    Well, what is happening in the telecom sector is a classic example of when the POD are converted into POP and low value-low involvements products become commodities. Price wars begin and customers get ever bewildering packages where they fail to distinguish two products based on percevied quality.

    On the FCB grid, the advertising model becomes do-learn-feel i.e not much thinking and not much emotional element and therefore the ads are upbeat and fun types trying to say that ‘we are also here’!

    Well, companies cannot fight too long on lower prices and that means some will have to go – may be through a leveraged buy-out. The question is who’s turn is it go?

  17. Babar says:
    January 7th, 2009 1:09 pm

    Here’s one more example of this behavior.

  18. June 4th, 2009 5:04 pm

    heloz i want to get some ads for my website.

  19. February 8th, 2010 7:21 pm

    nice information

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