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Friday, 23 March 2012

Telenor Invents a New Way of Minting Money

When businesses go unchecked by authority and making money becomes the only goal, companies will do any possible thing to empty the pockets of customers, without considering the long term consequences of their deeds. One such example is SMS based trivia quizzes, which every telecom company is now playing with.
Going to next level, Telenor Pakistan is sending text messages to its customers to win as much as half kilogram of gold for FREE in its “Sonay ki Jeet” contest, which could potentially mislead customers by not communicating the actual terms.
Text message received by Telenor customer claims that participation (shirkat) in the contest is free, which is untrue.
Before going into further details, let’s have a look at the SMS:
Text message is in roman Urdu, which would translate into English as following:
Free participation for 3443050040!
Telenor has selected your number for free participation for a prize of Half Kilogram gold. Send FREE to 8999 now
Rs. 0 this SMS
What a customer will get from this message is apparent, i.e. participation in contest is free. He/she will immediately send a reply back to this message assuming that he/she will qualify for the prize. Which doesn’t happen in reality.
In real, participation in “Sonay ki Jeet” contest requires at least one reply to short-code 7775, which costs Rs. 10 plus tax.
When we asked Telenor’s viewpoint on it, Telenor said that SMS from 8999 is not misleading. It argued that customer is given an opportunity to enter into the competition by sending a free SMS to 8999. Once that is done, customer then receives questions for the Sonay Ki Jeet competition to which the customer responds to, at 7775. Telenor said that Messages from 7775 informs customers that sending SMS to 7775 will be charged at Rs10+tax.
Obviously participation isn’t free, which Telenor admitted to us, unlike it claimed in text messages sent to customers (shown above).
Almost all cellular companies use tactics to trigger customers for action, but Telenor’s this action of claiming the participation as free is unique and new.
No words on PTA’s role; they are so good at showing deaf ears to things where customers suffer. Just imagine the number of customers (especially from rural areas) who will washout their credits just because of a twist Telenor invented to earn more money. Millions of Rupees will change pockets, on which Telenor deserves a bravo; and so does PTA.
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