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. Paktelâ€™s Power Hours are 7 pm â€“ 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. Wouldnâ€™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’.