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TMCNet:  Mobile carrier plans: A dual-language dictionary

[December 11, 2012]

Mobile carrier plans: A dual-language dictionary

Dec 11, 2012 (Globes - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Israel's mobile market is highly competitive in terms of prices and plans offered to customers, but to sell more phones, call minutes, and other services, salespeople in the industry have been playing with semantics in their tempting and vague advertisements.


The mobile carriers' terminology and manipulation of language leads consumers to think that they are about to buy a product at a certain price and on certain terms, but in many cases, the actual payment is different from what is promised.

The situation has improved since the mobile big bang of May 2012, which was the turning point in the consumer-carrier relationship, not just because prices fell, but because Golan Telecom Ltd. made a change in the confusing terminology (as Golan Telecom CEO Michael Golan said at the time, "No tricks and no shticks.") However, even now, consumers have to cope with the misleading use of the word "unlimited", especially by the big carriers.

So "Globes" presents a dictionary of mobile terms to help consumers understand, from the moment they see the advertisements, what they will actually receive.

Unlimited plan: Yes -- but don't use the Internet too much, otherwise the access speed will slow down. The commonest unlimited plans now cost as little as NIS 50 per month, for a limited period, and promise unlimited calls and SMS.

Translation: The promise of unlimited calls and SMS is usually kept, but they are sometimes limited to thousands of call-minutes. The main problem relates to Internet access. The Internet plan is still limited in volume, such as the case of Golan Telecom (3 gigabytes), or after a certain volume of use, access speed slows down (at the big carriers).

Carriers' salespeople should understand that "unlimited" means unlimited. Very slow access speeds do not mean that the plan is unlimited; they mean that the customer will be aggravated when a webpage takes a long time to upload.

Free Internet access plan: Yes -- but up to 5 gigabytes per month.

The term "Free Internet access" has become very common in recent months, and it is easy to think that this is an unlimited Internet plan which allows worry-free mobile Internet.

Translation: In reality, the plans are limited by Internet access volume, for example two or five gigabytes per month. Pelephone Communications Ltd. has even stretched its "free Internet access" term to include overseas, where, in addition to the restriction on volume, the carrier also restricts the daily amount of data transmission a consumer can receive.

Charge-credit model/mobile subsidy: Yes -- but the device is expensive. The model in which the customer receives a subsidy on the communications or mobile plan is uncommon in the industry.

Translation: You should note that when the carrier links device to the services package in any way, both the are sold at high prices compared with their real market price. At the small carriers and telephone stores it is possible to find both cheaper rates and cheaper handsets.

36 installments: Yes -- but it's better to make fewer installments. Spreading the payment for a mobile device over 36 installments may be the invention most identified with the mobile carriers. This is an indirect way to cause customers to commit to the carrier, because the installments and credit for the phone are spread over three years.

Translation: At first glance, it appears as if the carrier is helping the customer by allowing him to spread the installments over a long time. But a deeper examination shows that the prices for phones sold under this method are hundreds of shekels more than the market price. It should be remembered that it is possible to pay in far fewer installments, at lower prices, at large electronics chains.

Calls are recorded for control and the improvement of customer service: Yes -- but you will never be able to listen to them.

Most mobile carriers, and service companies in other industries too, tend to announce at the start of a call that it may be recorded for the purposes of control and improvement of service. Customers trust the carrier with a recorded call, on the assumption that if a problem arises about a promise made by the representative, or in case of a misunderstanding by the customer, the carrier will easily retrieve the recorded conversation.

Translation: In the cases of many customers, it turns out that the conversation that the carrier records only works on its behalf. Why It is very hard for a customer to compel the carrier to retrieve the recording. In such a case, the customer can only rely on himself to record the conversation with the service representative.

Our service is expensive, but good: Yes Not necessarily.

One of the best-loved sentences of representatives of the veteran carriers is that their service is better, and therefore more expensive.

Translation: Promises are one thing, and reality is another. The complication in dealing with a veteran mobile carrier, and the false promises by service or other representatives who do not return calls, only results in the realization that if service is not great anyway, at least it would be better to pay less at another carrier.

___ (c)2012 the Globes (Tel Aviv, Israel) Visit the Globes (Tel Aviv, Israel) at www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/nodeview.asp fid=942 Distributed by MCT Information Services

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