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Topic # 101013 22-Apr-2012 22:47 Send private message

(if you want a TL;DR, skip to the numbered questions)

With the ISPs now entering what appears to be a dataplan war, those who are informed are hopping between ISPs and tracking what the best value plan is.

But after recently seeing a post where a person has only ever been on InspireNet, and is on "InspireBitstream_256_5GB_ThrottleOnCap", for $40 + $50 telecom line rental.
If i read into that plan name correctly, i can make a pretty solid guess thats 256k internet, with a 5gb cap, for $90. That's shocking value in this day and age.

So
1) Do you think that ISPs should inform customers of new plan offerings, aside from general marketing? Should they be required to?

2) Should ISPs automatically move customers to better value plans? Take into account that plans don't always just get cheaper/faster/more data, they can change in other ways too (onpeak/offpeak, requiring tolls with one company etc)

3) How big of a problem do you think it is with people being on old plans? That is, how many people do you think are in a similar situation? Keep in mind if you're reading this you're probably tech orientated. Think about this in the context of your typical family for example that just pays the bill each month.

4) "Whats my number" is a campaign by the Consumers Institute and the NZ Government on getting people on the best value power bill. Internet cost doesn't have the same motivation that saving power does, that is, reducing our overall energy usage, better for environment/sustainability etc. But do you think there should be more awareness (not necessarily from the government) on this sort of thing?

And general comments on this sort of topic too! The above are just things to prompt some discussion.

My own responses to these:
1) Yes they should inform them. No they shouldn't be required to, simply because while i hate seeing people getting ripped off, in the end in its most basic form you sign a service agreement with the company to supply services, and they continue giving you the services you requested for the price agreed on. It should be common courtesy however from the company to go beyond marketing and actually send out letters to their customers for example, informing them rather than just advertising.

2) Yes if the plan is the identical but just cheaper/more data sort of thing. For example Telecom just bumped up all their data allowances instead of forcing people to manually change plan. This is a good move. But people who are on plans where something significant has changed shouldn't be automatically moved.

3) I think its probably a pretty significant problem for those who aren't in the know. Can't put a figure on it as i have nothing to back it up, but theres plenty of people who just pay the bill and be done with it.

4) I would strongly encourage a company like the Consumers Institute, Truenet or some other consumer orientated organization with interest in giving people value for money having a campaign of some description to try and push people to seek better value.

Your thoughts?

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  Reply # 613414 22-Apr-2012 23:07

Nope they should not inform their customers. The customer has signed up for a plan and that plan is up to the customer to manage. No company in their right mind would give their customer a discount if the customer is happy and hasn't said a thing. Business is not about being nice, rather making money.



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  Reply # 613416 22-Apr-2012 23:11 Send private message

SteveON: Nope they should not inform their customers. The customer has signed up for a plan and that plan is up to the customer to manage. No company in their right mind would give their customer a discount if the customer is happy and hasn't said a thing. Business is not about being nice, rather making money.

I'm taking into account customer service aspects of it as well however. Everyones opinion of this differs, hence why i asked.

I recently saw someone rant and rave demanding to know why their ISP didnt tell them there was a better plan available, and then went as far as expecting a refund for the difference in price.
I agreed it would have been a nice thing to inform them but i disagreed they had to do this, and strongly disagreed that a refund should ever be entitled to for something like that.

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  Reply # 613427 22-Apr-2012 23:52 Send private message

eXDee: So
1) Do you think that ISPs should inform customers of new plan offerings, aside from general marketing? Should they be required to?

2) Should ISPs automatically move customers to better value plans? Take into account that plans don't always just get cheaper/faster/more data, they can change in other ways too (onpeak/offpeak, requiring tolls with one company etc)

3) How big of a problem do you think it is with people being on old plans? That is, how many people do you think are in a similar situation? Keep in mind if you're reading this you're probably tech orientated. Think about this in the context of your typical family for example that just pays the bill each month.

4) "Whats my number" is a campaign by the Consumers Institute and the NZ Government on getting people on the best value power bill. Internet cost doesn't have the same motivation that saving power does, that is, reducing our overall energy usage, better for environment/sustainability etc. But do you think there should be more awareness (not necessarily from the government) on this sort of thing?


Answering in reverse order:

4) Yes there is, it's called "Telme" (http://www.telme.org.nz/telme) last I checked (just after release) it was rather rubbish and had really odd data and didn't handle 'Packages' well.  This may have changed.

1-3) I think they should inform people, e-mail is a 'cheap' way of getting the message out, for big changes a physical letter may be useful, in fact in this day and age, they could even use a tracking cookie/image to see who hasn't read their notice e-mail and send them a physical letter (although with clients disabling images by default this likely wouldn't work well).

I think the main issue, is that ISPs instead of 'updating' plans, they create 'new' plans, then grandfather the old ones, this is fair if there is substantial changes (peak/offpeak requirements, tolls with us, etc), if it is just a refresh/speed increases, then this is NOT the way to do it.  It's actually in the ISPs best interest to do it this way (look at Telecom, Total Home Broadband plan 40GB->120GB in less than a year, this is GREAT PR), not only because of the PR pov (people happy at increases, not complaining about finding out X years that they are on super old plans etc) but also because they don't have to deal with customers that do read the right places calling up for a plan switch.

It's bad PR for ISPs to act in the way described in the O.P. they only reason that it hasn't backfired is because the only times it gets reported in the media, is when it's one of the 'Big Bad Wolves' (i.e. the bigger ISPs) and it's reported once, then dropped, if the media outlets were to spend a couple of consecutive days on the subject, and had Close Up/Campbell Live/Fair Go, pick it up, then I think the 'status quo' would shift significantly.

Over the years (especially this last year) Consumer have done great work giving the power industry a bit of a kick, just need the same for a other couple more of the "oh it's just the same ol' bill, okay paid" industries.

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  Reply # 613429 23-Apr-2012 00:00 Send private message

I'm divided on this :P And I really should be old enough to make up my mind on these issues already, so I'll give you both of my arguments.

For reasons to support:
1. It would look like the companies are really looking out for their customers. (loyalty in the long run?)
2. If they did 1) it's only logical to do 2) unless they're incompetent or weren't wholeheartedly support their stance in 1)
3. By categorising it as a problem is itself a pretty clear stance, I think it's a problem from this angle. And I have no real data to back it up, but my hunch is sizeable, simply due to less young people in NZ.
4. Yes Awareness!

Now my other side kicks in, and I offer reasons against..
1. Companies need $X to run, and they will get it one way or another. IF all consumers are acting as efficiently as possible(due to awareness campaigns or simply everyone's knowledgeable about these plans one way or another), then I'd wager the tech savvy one will be less likely advantaged, since their knowledge and effort to keep up with the latest deals are rendered worthless by efforts to inform consumers.
2. Same reason as 1. And continue on the argument, consumers are paying that much and continue to do so precisely because it's acceptable to them.
3. This side of me couldn't careless about this so called "problem", for this side of me this is a non-issue.
4. I would argue that those institutes and organisations are filled with people who have mortgages to pay as well. In a sense, those campaigns aren't free, and if consumers are able to support it then great, they should fulfil their end of the contract by always ensuring consumers getting the best information.


As you can see I'm quite torn :P

Electricity is a perfect example..

Say the cost of generating electricity is fixed(hydro), and will go up in chunks (buying/installing new generators) rather linearly. So in an essence, as long as usage is below capacity, the total cost is unchanged. What happens when usage starts to come down? unit prices will go have to go up. So issues are actually entangled in unexpected ways..



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  Reply # 613518 23-Apr-2012 09:36 Send private message

^That's the sort of response/discussion I was thinking of.
There's definitely two sides to it.

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  Reply # 613759 23-Apr-2012 15:47 Send private message

People should take personal responsibility for regularly reviewing their bills, whether they are: internet, power or some other service.

Good ISP's will already take steps to inform customers and automatically change them to avoid bad publicity, seems like most ISP's do this already.

What ISP's don't do this?

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  Reply # 613763 23-Apr-2012 15:52 Send private message

I think it is all up to the customer to regularly check what they are paying for and what else is out there. If they don't it means they are happy with what they are getting. However if a company is offering exactly the same plan but with more data, then they should be automatically upgraded to that plan. However you will often find that there are other differences between the plans that prevents that occurring, because the customer maybe disadvantaged by the new plan in another way.

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  Reply # 613855 23-Apr-2012 18:38 Send private message

Ragnor: People should take personal responsibility for regularly reviewing their bills, whether they are: internet, power or some other service.

Good ISP's will already take steps to inform customers and automatically change them to avoid bad publicity, seems like most ISP's do this already.

What ISP's don't do this?


What I see is that many people signup and choose not to receive newsletters or never update their contact email addresses, with some even providing their previous providers email address which get cancelled shortly after.

Given that the majority of customers never use their data caps fully it's normally a 'safe' option to offer more data from time to time to create a better sense of 'value'. Don't expect to see a reduction on your bill each month, that's simply not good business.





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  Reply # 613883 23-Apr-2012 19:37 Send private message

eXDee:
So
1) Do you think that ISPs should inform customers of new plan offerings, aside from general marketing? Should they be required to?

2) Should ISPs automatically move customers to better value plans? Take into account that plans don't always just get cheaper/faster/more data, they can change in other ways too (onpeak/offpeak, requiring tolls with one company etc)

3) How big of a problem do you think it is with people being on old plans? That is, how many people do you think are in a similar situation? Keep in mind if you're reading this you're probably tech orientated. Think about this in the context of your typical family for example that just pays the bill each month.

4) "Whats my number" is a campaign by the Consumers Institute and the NZ Government on getting people on the best value power bill. Internet cost doesn't have the same motivation that saving power does, that is, reducing our overall energy usage, better for environment/sustainability etc. But do you think there should be more awareness (not necessarily from the government) on this sort of thing? 



1. ISP's do. It can be the home website, TV for the larger ISP's, and you can see ISP ads on NZ websites. Some ISP's such as Telecom have newsletters that can go wth the bill.  Its not feasible to contact every customer. They do not all use the ISP email address, or the last known email address, and many decline marketing mail outs/ email outs. Telecom CSR's 'rightplan" those who make contact. It's in any business's benefit to show their customers that they wish them to be on the best plan = loyalty.

2. Correct me if I am wrong, there is a legal issue here. You can migrate customers to a plan where nothing is less, as in price and terms (text, data, peak etc). If anything is less, no matter how small, they cannot be automatically migrated.

3. I dont feel it will be a major issue, not from a medium to large ISP perpective, due to advertising, websites, bill newsletters, CSR rightplanning. I cannot comment on how it would be at a smaller ISP. But, there will always be those who get a service, and forget it.

4. Broadband is not a tech only function these days. Its advertised, its had plenty of coverage over ISP issues, UFB, etc. TV has many ISP ads, Telecom, Voda, Telstra, 2 Degrees, and if you have a service like  mobile phone or broadband, I feel the majority will be dollar aware. Text, calls, MB, GB, they know that these change and there is plenty of competition out there. Again, there will always be the set and forget minority. 


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  Reply # 615100 25-Apr-2012 18:58 Send private message

eXDee:
4) "Whats my number" is a campaign by the Consumers Institute and the NZ Government on getting people on the best value power bill. Internet cost doesn't have the same motivation that saving power does, that is, reducing our overall energy usage, better for environment/sustainability etc. But do you think there should be more awareness (not necessarily from the government) on this sort of thing?


unfortunately, with the internet it's about more than just cost (there's also quality of service -- a far greater variance, it would seem, than between power supplies). so, determining best value doesn't have a single variable here.

such a campaign for this service seems like it would be more useful as propaganda/marketing from one of the competitors (to downplay their weaknesses and emphasize their strengths) than a PSA without bias.

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  Reply # 615113 25-Apr-2012 19:24 Send private message

An interesting question, why is the government now running this sort of marketing?

I note that they're running power company ads again to tell me people to change companies and plans to save some money.

Why are they don't doing the same with telecommunications?





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  Reply # 615235 26-Apr-2012 02:24 Send private message

DonGould: An interesting question, why is the government now running this sort of marketing?

I note that they're running power company ads again to tell me people to change companies and plans to save some money.

Why are they don't doing the same with telecommunications?



Does the government really need to tell people something so obviously like "hey look at what stuff you pay for occasionally and review alternatives to see if they are cheaper".

If the electricity authority has spare cash to waste on stuff like this, their budget should be cut Money Mouth

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