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High-paying telecom customers get preferential treatment in India

While most of us are familiar with credit scores, mobile subscribers also have customer scores, based on how much they pay. This can affect the level of service, length of waiting time, and type of promotions received.
Written by Nitin Puri, Contributor

Have you ever wondered how and why certain mobile users have better customer support, along with network coverage, than you or others? Better yet, ever wondered if call drops are really device-related, or perhaps related to your customer score instead?

Yes, you have a customer score if you are a mobile subscriber in India, regardless of whether it's a prepaid or postpaid account. And according to The Times of India, customer scores do in fact play a role, especially if you are a high paying telecom user.

In turn, this translates to shorter wait times to talk to call center representatives, along with higher bandwidth, and yes, it's been confirmed, less call drops. Mobile operators in India collect subscriber information and assign each customer with a score, reflective of their lifetime value to the network. In turn, mobile operators can selectively channel network capacity to each user as it chooses. Furthermore, mobile operators gain insight into in near real-time about customer usage and offer services depending on their value to the network.

From one aspect, clearly this is an attempt of datamining for mobile operators, primarily for their benefit and gain to provide tailored services to their subscribers, again based on their value to the network. But it's this value to the network that is unsettling to me.

Is it fair to selectively offer services only to high paying, premium subscribers who have a higher value on the network, while leaving out the rest? Personally, I feel this is a bit biased, and while I'm sure the mobile operators have found a way around this, I feel this is revenue losing too.

Based on previous experience with a prepaid Vodafone connection in New Delhi, here's why I feel this is revenue losing: depending on my regular top up amounts, I would receive short and brief messages from Vodafone for other promotional offers they had. These messages would only appear at time of top up too, and in almost all cases, I missed out on the offers as the messages went away so fast. It also didn't help that regional languages such as Hindi were being displayed using English characters.

That being said, I finally did sign up to an offer, which was a set price for a large amount of data usage, for one week. Signing up itself requires remembering, or memorizing, the code to send to Vodafone. However, once signed up I realized that towards the end of my one week promotional offer, I wasn't offered to sign up again. Luckily, I wrote the down the alphanumeric code and once again sent it to Vodafone, and did so for months. By doing so, I saved a lot of money on data charges.

My only question is this: if Vodafone and other mobile operators in India send subscribers promotional offers based on their customer score, and subscribers sign up, does it in turn raise your customer score in the end? I don't know, but I do know one thing: I stopped receiving promotional offers from Vodafone based on my continuous renewal of its data plan promotion.  

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