At the Delhi Indicators Meeting earlier this month, there was discussion about how one would count the lifetime free subscriptions being offered in India. The following excerpt from Business Today, may shed some light on this new product:
“However, there’s more to lifetime offers than meets the eye. First, call charges at Rs 1.99 per minute for local and Rs 2.99 per minute for STD are not necessarily low. Customers with ordinary prepaid cards pay anything from Rs 0.70 (local) to Rs 1.20 (STD). As BSNL Finance Director S.D. Saxena puts it, these schemes do not benefit customers who make outgoing calls. They are for those who don’t (but receive lots of calls), such as an aged parent or a chauffeur who have traditionally opted for ‘free-incoming’ schemes. Then, the talk time offered by lifetime schemes (between 12 minutes in the case of private telcos and 49 minutes for BSNL) is too low for the Rs 999 they charge. Most telcos claim that customers will not have to pay any transaction charge on future recharges and that they will get the entire talk time they pay for.
Next is the whole question of ‘lifetime’. As far as we can make out, all the telcos stipulate that the cards must be recharged at least once in six months for you to stay connected. And, at least one telco has stipulated that the scheme remains valid only as long as the subscriber has a minimum charge of Rs 5 in the account. If the amount falls below that, the subscriber pays the entire Rs 999 again.”