Innovative Marketing or Cheating?

Marketing requires all corner thinking. Consumer consequences are one of the vital thoughts each marketing executive should think before venturing into the field. Due to the undue target pressures, marketing personnel adopt hook or crook methods to achieve their sales. Despite consumer courts and non stop awareness creations by the government agencies and NGOs, duping of consumers continue unabated.


The cell phone companies are case in point. With the greed to capitalize the wide open Indian market, cell phone companies pumped in huge scale of money. Reliance was one of the first companies to enter the field. They gave life-long validity with handsets and talk time. Its popularity grew at an amazing pace. There was a tough competition for dealership. Virtually competition existed to Reliance monopoly in the late nineties. Then Bharati, Essar, Tatas and others came into the field. With the antagonistic communications minister Dayanidhi Maran at the helm of affairs, Reliance found the going tough since 2004.


Till 2004 Reliance used all official connections and strengthened its monopolistic practices. Government, agents and customers were cheated alike. Across the board cheating was common among those who connected with Reliance. For diverting ISD calls as local calls, Reliance created a loss of Rs.500 crores to the Government. Hand in glove with telecommunications authorities Reliance was carrying on with this malpractice for long time till it was exposed in 2005. After failing all compromise formulas and under hand negotiations, Reliance paid Rs.150 crores fine to the communications ministry.


 For instance if you dial a number then the call rating starts before the other end picks up the phone. Even if you speak for 59 seconds the phone will take you to 1 minute 1 second. There was no accountability in Reliance. Initially they said SMS is free and local call charges Rs.2 only. Now they are saying that SMS is one rupee and local call charge is fifty paisa. Why this bogus advertisement? Now most of the customers are used to SMSes. By advertising low call rates they can retain the existing customers or expand their customer base. In the final sum, the company is growing and customers are feeling the heat.


The sky high popularity of Reliance crashed down suddenly. Airtel topped the list with the quick and reasonable services.  Till it defeated Reliance monopoly, Airtel was sincere. Now they also started cheating their customers. Caller tunes, voice SMS, MMS, selling data bases of the customers and other methods are used to stay in business. Thankfully TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) is up on heals to keep tab of these offenders. Without regulation tele customers will be pushed to the brink of financial collapse.


This is not the case alone with the telecom companies. Aviation sector, gas agencies, education, milk vendors, cable operators, any and every service provider adopts innovative cheating in the name of marketing. In all these methods the marketing executives and company heads forget one basic formula – cheating the customers will ruin the company in the long run. Already the consumer awareness and accumulated frustrations are strangulating companies. Before it gets too late they should get their act right. Tell the truth and convince the customer. They will be willing to support you rather than getting cheated. One customer said “Cheat me straight. Don’t waste your and my time by taking me for a long ride”. Such a frustration is bred among the consumers by marketing executives to make their living.


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