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March 22, 2011, 5:05 am UTC
After a long wait, 3G was finally launched in the last quarter of 2010 in the city of Mumbai. Still at a progressing stage, it is already wooing the minds and pockets of many mobile users. In the same way, innovations in the telecom sector keep popping up with every passing day. The latest entrant to bring about a revolution in this sector is India’s first unpaid mobile connection service called T24 or Talk24. Brought in the market by Tata Teleservices and retail giants Future Group, the T24 service has been launched on the GSM platform and promises to be a boon for the customers. So first we had Postpaid, then chipped in Prepaid and now the newest one is the unpaid connection. First launched in Andhra Pradesh in the month of June last year, then in Kolkata and the rest of West Bengal in September and finally in other cities in December 2010 and January 2011, it only reached the metros of Mumbai and New Delhi in March this year. Mayur Toshniwal, CEO – Telecom, Future Group explains, “We wanted to study the small markets first and then go for the big catch. We wanted to assure the smooth operation of the service and the benefits in the smaller markets and then target the metro cities. This would have also helped us to make any necessary changes or corrections, if at all needed.” According to him, the service is a two way program with numerous benefits for the customer. “It is indeed a two way benefit program for all our customers. The first being that they can collect talk time benefits as they shop in any of our Future Group outlets and the second one is to enjoy discounts or get discount vouchers while you talk using T24,” exclaims Toshniwal.
He further clarifies on the endeavor, “It is a merger between retail consumption and telecom providers. Both, the Future Group as well as Tata Teleservices wanted to work out something together and that is how this venture materialized. We were thinking on the lines of having several loyalty programs for our customers. This is just the start, there are a lot more interesting things lined up.” This is also an innovative way to generate more customers and have the old customers to carry on shopping from their stores which are Big Bazaar, Pantaloons, Food Bazaar, Brand Factory, eZone, Home Town and Central. “Through T24, we can, not only, gain new customers but also increase our loyal customer base who has been shopping with us regularly. This is going to help in building loyalty in new customers also,” explains Toshniwal.
How the unpaid mobile connection will work is when customers shop at any Future Group outlet, they will be rewarded with free talk time for every purchase made by them. A subscriber needs to have a T24 SIM card to avail the unpaid mobile services. The T24 talk-time vouchers are available at all Tata telecom stores, Future Group Outlets and all the local stores who sell Tata vouchers. The per-second rates for calls will be applicable for the T24 customers on the Tata Teleservices’ GSM network. In order to earn talk time, you need to shop for a minimum of Rs. 351 to get talk time of Rs. 10.
While its range differs according to the different retail outlets of Future Group and also according to the area, T24 is offering an 20 percent extra talk time in Maharashtra as an introductory offer. However there are some limitations, certain terms and conditions that prevail in this entire process which may or may not hamper the customer. The cumulative free talk time will have to be consumed within 90 days from the date of last credit. An advantage is that the customer can claim the free talk time within 45 days from the date of purchase upon showing the original bill. A pertinent question still arises as to how many people would be willing to switch from their current telecom provider to T24 solely for the loyalty program.
In laymen’s terms or rather logically if we try to simply define the three connection services viz. Postpaid, Prepaid and Unpaid they can be as follows – Postpaid – You use the services and pay the bill later Prepaid – You pay first and then use the services Unpaid – You do not pay for the services at all. Well, is it not understood that unpaid does not always mean free? You will have to pay for it. This time only the source is different!
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