“Free” costs Rs.5/day – Airtel

Blatant unethical marketing has become the norm of this society! Companies believe that using buzz words and catch phrases are often enough to pull in subscribers or customers – irrespective of the merit and honesty of the advertisement.

The most recent such ad that stirred up this new category of posts on my blog is from Airtel which describes its latest offering of “free” unlimited national roaming at Rs.5/day. My only question is – How can something you pay for, ever be ‘free’? An oxymoron at best that tries to make morons of its customers.

The ad is displayed on its Facebook page and also on the website.

Airtel-free-National-Roaming

While such practice of wording advertisements is nothing new in the Indian telecom industry, there’s more to note. On it’s website, Airtel claims:

Here’s another first from airtel. Now enjoy FREE incoming calls on national roaming!

Another first from Airtel? – Hardly. BSNL launched a similar campaign back in 2011. And I’m confident that also wasn’t the first time.

FREE – Notice how this word is capitalized? The first thing they teach you in business communication is to avoid capitalization of words – it signifies the act of shouting! After all, an advertisement is the most primary form of business communication, right?

How could this be better worded? How about – Enjoy unlimited incoming calls on national roaming for Rs.5/day. – now, was that so difficult?

Will TRAI ever take notice to stop this menace?

P.S.: Thanks to @TheMangoFellow whose tweet brought this to my notice.

Communication: from pigeons to facebook!

“Communication is the art of bringing a smile upon the face of the person listening to you”

On the historical front:

Communication can be conceived as the corner stone for civilization. A civilized world is unimaginable without communication between the species. Ever since the early days, man, a social being has interacted with his environment by some form of communication. The medium of communication being sound, actions, crude drawings in the early days to speech, music, writing, acting, singing and so on, in the modern world.

Investigating further, when we try to draw a chronology of advancements in the media of communication, history has taught us how man used mud paints on the caves during early civilizations. Perhaps at the same time, there existed a crude non-structured interchange (spoken or symbolic).

In the course of millions of years, an established code of communication emerged into the society – the language. Language was distinguished mainly geographically; meaning, people belonging to a specific region communicated in a specific language. Over the course of time, this barrier began to diminish and with this there was a need for better media of communication.

On the technological front:

Until a few decades ago, written form of communication was predominant as a tool to send a message across where a ‘runner’ (the modern day postman) would carry the letter from the sender to the receiver. During this period, animals such as dogs and birds like pigeons were also trained to deliver these messages.

All this changed drastically once the first electronic message was transmitted over a telegraph. It was transmitted over electronic signals, encoded using the Morse code. Following soon, there was the telephone which could carry voice over electronic signals. From then on, the entire outlook of how the world communicated changed forever.

The convergence of space programs, innovations in technology and the necessity of ad-hoc communication systems laid the foundation for wireless and mobile telephony over satellites. Another milestone in communication systems was the birth of the internet. People can now communicate “almost” at the speed of thought.

That said, the research and innovation in the field of communication is still an ongoing voyage and promises to bring many surprises ahead.

On the social front:

As we spoke earlier, it is fair to deduce that communication has made man a social being and enabled the formation of civilizations. Man has always looked at his fellow beings for happiness, support and solitude. Having said that, the psychology of communication has changed.

If you were to ask your grandparents, you’ll mostly hear them say how they used to send letters; wait for days for the replies. Even though it was tedious, people were constantly in touch and everyone felt it was cheerful to write and receive letters.

However, the scenario is much different now. Owing a lot to mobile telephony and the internet, people are constantly ‘on the grid’. Nevertheless, it has become an obligation to stay in touch more than the sanguinity involved.

Things have worsened with the emerging of social networking websites like Myspace, Orkut and Facebook, where people boast of the number of friends they have on their profile page, yet knowing very little about each of them; let alone having met each one in person. The real sad state of affairs is how people, especially the youth, spend hours chatting with a friend across the globe, while having lesser and lesser time for family.

Technological advancements in communication have certainly helped us keep in touch with people far off. Is it also responsible for people drifting apart?

Read between the lines!

“Buy 3, Take 5 FREE!”

“90% Discount – Limited Period!”

Its not surprising how our eyes light up when we look at an advertisement for a too-good-to-be-true (TGTBT) offer. Our hearts jump and a sudden surge of excitement rushes through our minds — “I should get that!” Our brain’s logical thinking takes a backdrop and out come our wallets and the transaction takes place. And we live our lives happily-ever-after.

Oh wait! Did I miss something? But of course, 90% of all those extravagant offers keep you happy only for a short while. The excitement all dies when you realize that you are over-paying, or you got duped for a cheap product or the after-sale service is hell!

A business man never ever sells something for anything lesser than what he bought it for, unless he’s gone mad. That’s a universal fact! All the offers that are advertised are a part of his long-term investment which is going to get his product recognition and establish it in the market.

That said, there is no denying the existence of legitimate TGTBT offers. But a 0-catch, no-strings-attached, TGTBT offer is very rare and illusory. If you happen to come across such an offer, control your excitement and do some logical thinking. Read the complete terms and conditions (Look for  ‘* Conditions Apply.‘) before buying. Verify the company that is making the offer and ask for advise from previous buyers. The easiest way is to Google reviews for that product/service.

Few years ago, Reliance Communications, when it first entered the mobile market, offered a “Dhamaka” offer giving away mobile phones + connections for only Rs. 500/- I still remember the long queues that spiraled around the Reliance outlets as people rushed in to buy a mobile. Later next day, a newspaper article described the entire terms in detail. The initial 500/- was only a down-pay for the mobile and the final bill amount spread over two years was Rs. 7200/- That day,  the length of the queue was drastically reduced!

Very recently, Reliance Broadband, launched an offer for their new 3.1Mbps plug-n-play wireless broadband service. They are giving away the USB modem and two months of unlimited usage for Rs. 3500/-

Link: http://offers.connectindia.in/reliance/broadband.jsp
Tarrif: http://offers.connectindia.in/reliance/tariff.jsp
Terms: http://offers.connectindia.in/reliance/terms.jsp

The “unlimited” usage is actually limited to 10Gb per month, after which each Mb costs Rs. 2/-! Now that’s costly! On the contrary, BSNL offers true unlimited wireless broadband (although at speeds of upto 2Mbps) at Rs. 750/- per month. That’s less than 25% of the Reliance’s offer!

If you are looking for a new wireless broadband connection, learn more about all your options and make an educated choice! 🙂