Bill shock – A major consumer issue


28-October-2011

It is not uncommon for internet service providers (ISPs) to offer an attractive leading price but with a low data cap. 

However as most subscribers cannot really interpret what the data cap really means, over usage especially in the first month is almost a foregone conclusion.  Furthermore ISPs who offer these restricted usage plans have stiff overage fees.  This invariably leads to a very frustrated customer when they receive their bill.

Increasingly subscribers have understood the rules of the game and have taken action to protect themselves against these unexpected charges.  Many would consciously reduce their usage of the internet, keeping it only for essential use. 

Even then, shocks can still happen.  An expatriate worker who subscribed to the lowest price data-limited plan then decided to have long calls home every night for “free” using Skype.  Little did he know that a rude shock awaited him when his internet usage bill arrived at the end of the month.

Other subscribers would take prepaid plans.  Similar to the motivation of prepaid packages on mobile phones, a prepaid plan allows the subscriber to budget his internet expenses.  Normally unit rates of prepaid packages tend to be higher than post-paid ones. 

When challenged as to why they have data caps, most ISPs would respond by saying that they need to protect their customers and services against “abuse.”  However some ISPs do offer unlimited data plans and all of Kokonet plans are un-metered.  That means there would never be any over-charge.  The subscriber knows exactly what amount he would be paying monthly.  

Romano Laurence, the company’s sales and marketing manager, says that it is one of the fundamental principle of the company.
 
“We want to encourage full constructive use of the internet and that will not happen if you create disincentives against usage.  We have a fair-use policy that ensures all our customers get what they want.  They may not get it fully at the time they want it but get it they will,” says Mr Laurence.

Kokonet’s Fair Use Policy uses a system of priorities during various times of the day.  As an example, during normal working hours priority access is given to browsing, email and other business related activity and lower priority is ascribed to downloads. 

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