17 April 2005

Tiscali Vs Telecom Plus

Lets be honest, although the UK Utility Warehouse (Telecom Plus) is floated on the stock market, winning prizes and all that jazz, they keep their prices low by NEVER ADVERTISING.

The only ads you will ever see are paid for by local distributors, most of whom (I am told) are over 30 years old and became distributors through using the product first - you find a really good, money saving deal that works just as well or better than the brands rammed down your throat on the TV all the time; reliable, established and all that jazz, and you are going to tell people anyway, and thats true of anything - shoe shops, supermarket pizza, hairdressers, whatever. "Ooh, you have got to try this!" etc etc. If you are going to rave about something whatever happens, you may as well get a little financial 'thank you' for introducing people, and thats how Telecom Plus does its business.

Its great, it means they rarely if ever get an executive on board who isnt dedicated to the products - they are all happy end users rather than salaried staff. It also means they hit the 'never heard of you' wall, a lot.

Sky TV do something similar for everybody, with gift vouchers when you introduce a friend. Every business, one way or another, pays for the recommendations that come their way, even if they just plain recommend themselves by spending a couple of hundred thousand quid on a glossy, catchy TV advert and a few thousand more on billboards.

Back to my point - people can be like cattle - they go for the latest thing advertised, whether or not its the best deal, because its there in their faces and looks sparkly and attractive. Advertising is designed to do the thinking for you, so you dont have to.

Take Tiscali - its got to be true that their broadband packages 'can't be beaten', because it says so on their website. If it wasnt true they would be in huge trouble, as competitors would be having complaints upheld left, right and centre. So what does that statement mean to you? That they are the best on the market? It shouldn't, because there is nothing to say that they can't be EQUALLED. No-one is, in any case, likely to offer a completely identical package. Every end user is different and its silly to think along the lines of one-size-fits-all.

I love Tiscali's new adverts - funny, clever and (rightly) concentrating on their biggest selling point, how CHEAP they are. Even the Utility Warehouse, that saves money hand over fist by never advertising, comes out at 1 and 2mbps at £4 or £5 more expensive, per month. Okay, with that you get unlimited downloads, free modem, 10 email accounts with anti-spam and anti-virus and 15MB of web space. You also then get the option to have all your documents backed up every night for a piffling extra £3 a month. Swings and roundabouts really, yes? It all depends on what you want.

I am, however, always suspicious when a company that is well known and well established suddenly pays out thousands and thousands to advertise a product that they have had for a while - why wasn't Tiscali's big push at the outset of the deal, instead of the middle of it?

If you look closely, Tiscali had a few users on their residential tarrifs (as opposed to business ones) that used the 'unlimited' package to full effect - and because of that their services are no longer unlimited, but capped. For many people this wouldnt be an issue, but for those who like to download music or movies, its going to be quite annoying, I should think. On the mid-range package, for example, you get a limit of 2GB a month, and on the top one, 15GB.

Still, if you download more than that at those connection speeds, Tiscali doesn't want you, and they are happy with that. It just peeves me slightly that they should suddenly start advertising all over the place. Are they trying to drown out the bad news? Are they trying to recoup customer numbers, having kicked a few to the kerb for 'excessive' usage of an 'unlimited' package?

I honestly don't know.

By the way, yes I chose Telecom Plus, and yes I distribute, but generally locally, to friends. I dont have any revoltingly pushy marketing tools like an opt-in list or any monkey business like that. If you cant find what you want on the link, above, but want more info, please email me. Just if my email isnt showing on my profile, give me a minute - I have to go set it up.


Badaunt said...

When the Internet started taking off here it was awful. One phone company had a monopoly, and it was dial-up only, and you paid by the MINUTE for ludicrously slow connections. It was horribly expensive for anything except email.

Then cable came along, and we switched. It was 6000 yen/month at first. Then all these other types of connections came along too - DSL and all that, with competitive pricing, and the price started dropping. These days nobody is on dial-up and we're paying about 3000 yen/month. Unlimited downloads - they've never capped it.

We went from feeling deprived when we read about how people were faring elsewhere to feeling like we were on the cutting edge. The only reason we haven't switched to a faster connection is that it's too much hassle, and what we have doesn't feel in the least bit slow anyway.

Cheryl said...

LOL! Same in the UK, for a miserable dial up connection it cost you an arm and a leg for an ISP and call charges on top, and we thought ourselves hi-tech, hehe.