Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Profit at The Expense of Unsatisfactory Telco Service?

A lot of people complained about the service tax charge on the prepaid service in this past week or so. Many think that having another 6 percent is already too much in addition to how call charges are tallied in the present prepaid system. It's that much pressure that prompted the government to put that thing on hold.

The irony here is that prepaid charges are more expensive than the postpaid but the question is why people favor that method of usage rather than having it postpaid? One problem identified in this question is that many are not aware that they can switch telco services but still can retain their existing phone numbers. Ask anyone who is using a postpaid plan and many would come with the answers such as difference on calculating call charges, no need top up in case of emergency and there are now calling plans to choose from base on the needs.

The problem right now that most consumers face now is that although they pay high prices for monthly phone bills, yet the service, quality and reception still suck. This is actually in contrast to the reception, affordability and marketing way of our neighboring country down south. You only to walk into a mall in a suburb of Singapore, e.g. Sengkang and see how the mobile phone marketing plans contrast of how the marketing plan is in Malaysia.

Even a simple person can get a proper phone at a very low price and a reasonable plan and yet can get a very good coverage in the city state itself. And what about here? Well. we have a few share of problems, for example certain networks don't work in coastal areas, a network that doesn't work well when we're on the main highways along Peninsular Malaysia. Getting a smartphone, now a trend everywhere is still very expensive because of the price and plan unfavorable to the lower income group. How can we catch up with our technologically developed partners across the world when you have a problem that can't be solve like this?

Ask any marketing expert and they tell you that the conventional methods of marketing don't really work nowadays. Giving extra content at an affordable pricing, (actually should be much lower than the general picture of pricing and plan caps here), and many people would come in, thus the volume of consumers would definitely compensate the expenditure required for maintenance and operations of course. Well, Streamyx is one clear-cut example. People paid a lot of money for monthly broadband subscription and yet it lags behind Singapore in terms of the service and support provided.

And so it comes back to the key dilemma here: is it profit at the expense of good service? Sure, any business book would tell you that there is a set margin of profit to be targeted but it is actually much easier if there's strong customer satisfaction rather than charging high for instant profit and get no satisfaction from the end user here. I guess the saying of "greed is good" is still happening around.

Let's put it this way: our mobile phone operators have still yet to give a very satisfactory telco service across the board, in overall aspects despite having high revenues and profits. Even if they paid the service tax back to the government, the profit margin still remains at high. There's a fair share of who are the people using their services and so forth. In this case, it's okay to say that people should say "screw you" at the operators for charging over than what is supposedly reasonable. 

Even though there have been appeals and statements by ministries including the PM of imploring them not to proceed imposing service taxes on prepaid customers, I am not able to be very certain or trusting what those buggers would say. Sometimes, it can be a flip-flop in a later time. Sometimes, it is a public-relations desperation to appeased people in hard times.

Or the other way round is to move to postpaid plan since we are not really going to change our lines frequently. Another way is that the present marketing plans in those mobile telephone companies should be scrapped with an aggressive but lower price but high content plans. Excuses such as insufficient resources, no one wants that is merely bullshit at all.

Addendum: There was also a case of something about Maxis about giving customer P&C information to Pricewater House Coopers (auditing firm) as a clear violation of customer privacy. Violation because the information was given without consent of the customer. I suppose this is unprecedented in the mobile telephone line, but in the credit card business, this was mentioned in the fine print of the application and of course getting your consent first before proceeding. I think mobile telephone companies like Maxis should clarify the question lest dozens of angry people and customers mob in to HQ looking for one woman who gave out customer info!

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