UP AT THE SHARP END

UP AT THE SHARP END

Darren Griffi ths

Darren Griffi ths, managing director, High Peak Mobiles

 
Sohail Ratansi
Sohail Ratansi, managing director, Fones U Like
 
Chris Mayers
Chris Mayers, managing director, Border Mobiles

Each month the IMPDA asks a panel of dealers how they feel about the hottest topics affecting the channel community. This month, our fi rst topic is the realm of advertising. Advertising, which used to be the domain of television and newspapers, is now making its way onto the mobile phone, with plans to broadcast adverts at all times of the day to a large captive audience. What is your view of advertising on mobiles? Will consumers be irritated by it? And can dealers take advantage of this by advertising their own shop or products?

Chris Mayers, managing director, Border Mobiles:
Advertising on mobiles should be available as an opt in or out scheme, with no cost to the customer. A simple questionnaire sent by the network owning the mobile number could set advertising preferences for each number, with a strictly no reply taken as no advertising. This would eliminate those who either didn’t understand the questionnaire or didn’t want to receive such media from receiving advertising. It would also mean for those paying to advertise that their audience was specifi c to their product, and was not simply deleted, unread by a user.

I think any specifi cally targeted audience would be interested in receiving offers and reductions on all types of products and events in their area, and so long as it was administered properly and at times that were not obtrusive for the recipient, it could be very advantageous to both the advertiser and the mobile user. It would only become irritating should customers be bombarded by messages that were not applicable or at unacceptable times.

As for cost, if set to a maximum of 10p per recipient for local advertising specifi c to those who would take advantage of an offer, it could be very advantageous again. Customers could be gained very easily with clever advertising campaigns. However, if not properly administered, it could be both costly and time wasting for all concerned.

The conclusion to this would have to be in the administration of the product; networks would have to take the responsibility of who receives which kind of advert, avoiding data protection issues and allowing customers to opt out quickly from future adverts should they not wish to receive them, and not passing the buck to the advertiser.

Sohail Ratansi, managing director, Fones U Like:
Adverts on mobiles are like pop up windows on PCs. Annoying! I can’t see how it will work. We all have spam fi lters for email on our computers, and adverts are usually spam. I can see it being good business for those who develop mobile applications. I would be irritated if I was to receive adverts on my phone through out the day. Selling advertising space is big money and I can see the networks trying to generate revenue from this angle. If however adverts lower the line rental, then maybe a spam fi lter app will be all one needs for lower line rental and no spam.

Darren Griffi ths, managing director, High Peak Mobiles:
Advertising media is always somewhat a black hat, sorcery to me. If you fi nd something that actually works for your company then great, stick to it! I recently booked a holiday abroad and within the days leading up to the departure I was constantly hit with emails advising me of what lay ahead for the next two weeks. To some, this may be encouraging to think that there is

someone in the world that actually cares about them and has their interests at heart. To me it was someone telling me where to go and spend my money which in turn left me feeling like telling them where to get off! At no point did I recall agreeing to this service, and as you can read between the lines, felt it as an invasion of my privacy. Hence I switched off the mobile and had a fantastic two weeks in the sun!
 

If, as we are led to believe, T-Mobile is trialling a system to practically eliminate clawback, it would mean dealers would have additional revenue to increase sales. But how would this affect relationships between dealers and other networks if only one network runs a non clawback scheme?

 

Griffi ths, High Peak Mobiles:
At last, here is a network wanting to get on the right side of their dealers. Claw backs have always seemed to be the thorn in the side to many. Anything that can eliminate this must surely be good news. Economic uncertainty is certainly looming, so getting dealers onboard early is an excellent timely move from T-Mobile. Other networks may just wait and see how well this works for them before joining in, but from the dealers perspective, I can see more effort being put into the promotion and sales of those participating for obvious reasons. The futures certainly not bright, it could be pink all the way!

Mayers, Border Mobiles:
Independent dealers have been open to clawback by the networks since mobile contracts were born. There is no guarantee offered by any that commissions are safe, even though networks perform the credit check. Clawbacks affect genuine customers in the knock on effect; commissions cut by distributors to offset previous clawbacks and dealers’ offers made to new customers.

To safeguard our commissions, all networks should have some policy in place whereby the dealer can avoid any clawback. If this means tighter credit checks or provide certain proofs then so be it; a customer who does not pay is a liability and none of us want that. If a system is an place that will guarantee my profi ts, then I will use that system.

In my opinion, networks are having their cake and eating it where independent dealers are concerned. Why credit check a customer if there is no risk to them of losing anything other than airtime? When dealers are clawed back they lose the their profi t and stock.

I can only see increased connections via the independent channel for any network offering a no clawback scenario, and a demise in connections via the independent channel for any network not offering security.

Any network offering increased security in who they accept onto their network is going to achieve a better quality of customer, helping to prevent the ones who would disconnect from connecting in the fi rst place, increasing all round profi t margins; a win win situation.

T-Mobile is leading the market in my opinion where customer relations are concerned. It appears to have the fairest upgrade process in place. I don’t seem to be competing with T-Mobile when it comes to retaining a customer; if its available direct, they make it available to me to offer, which is a great positive customer experience. If this is to fi lter through to new connections then T-Mobile will be taking more of the other networks’ customers.

Ratansi, Fones U Like:
Well as a dealer I would be more inclined to do T-Mobile connections especially on B2C, as this is where protection is required. I can also see lowering subsidies helping reduce claw backs too, as handsets will need to be bought like the original iPhone.

T-Mobile’s approach is good for the dealers; it shows it cares, it shows maybe we can work together rather than having this us and them attitude that the other networks have at the moment.

Adding to those T-Mobile new connection quotas is good way to also get rid of poor dealers. I’m not sure if other networks will follow, as claw backs seem to be a very good generator of income for them. Fingers crossed some of the crazy claw back rules by the other networks will be reformed regarding cashback, allowing a fairer system for the indie dealers.

Yes there are some very bad dealers out there who don’t mind making a quick buck and going bust before they can be clawed back. That is something the networks need to work harder to avoid, but defi antly not while painting the ethical, hard working dealers with the same brush. Bravo T-Mobile, other networks maybe you can follow?

 

The IMPDA (Independent Mobile Phone Dealers Association) is open to all UK dealers and distributors. The aim of the IMPDA is to achieve a level playing fi eld for its members, and to champion quality improvements in the industry for a better future. If you would like to join the IMPDA then simply email membership@impda.co.uk. If you have a concern or story then either email admin@impda.co.uk or call 0844 884 9702.

 
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