Posts tagged Consumers
Chandigarh: Electricity consumers in Haryana can now get information about their power bills through an SMS, a state power distribution agency spokesman said.
“The electricity consumers may give their mobile telephone numbers to the meter reader in their respective area when he comes to take the reading. As and when the consumers provide mobile phone numbers, they would start getting the SMSs,” the spokesman of the Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (DHBVN) said.
The Nigam has already received mobile telephone numbers of over 200,000 consumers who have started getting information relating to bills, he said.
“The Nigam has already started sending information of electricity bills to its consumers through SMS also after successfully integrating the facility with DHBVN’s billing data base,” he said.
“The SMS would include amount and due date of payment and would be in addition to the hard copy of the bill. Consumers would get three SMSs, first to intimate about amount and due date of payment of the bill, second to remind them 48 hours before the due date of payment of bill and third after receiving payment of the bill to intimate the receipt of payment,” he added.
The SMS bill facility has been started in 13 computerized sub-divisions of the DHBVN.
Tweet Imaging Consumers Prefer Cameras: NPD By Greg Tarr — TWICE, 2/21/2011 PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. – A recent consumer study conducted by The NPD Group found that despite the growth of mobile phones with built-in cameras, the dedicated camera remains the image-capture device of choice by most consumers.
The finding was part of the market research company’s December 2010 Imaging Confluence Study, which said that digital still cameras account for the largest percentage of photos taken, at 51 percent.
The mobile phone followed in second place, at 42 percent.
“Demographics play a factor in which device consumers choose for image capture,” the report states. “Thirteento 17-year-olds reported taking 54 percent of their photos with a mobile phone and 36 percent with a camera, while mothers reported taking 40 percent of their photos with a mobile phone and 55 percent with a camera.”
As more devices are capable of both still and video capture, the usage pattern for video also skews towards cameras, NPD said. The amount of video recorded by mobile phones and digital cameras was nearly evenly split, at 35 percent phone/34 percent camera.
Only 27 percent of video was reported being recorded on either a traditional or pocket camcorder, NPD said.
Ease of use, long battery life and ease to carry appeared as the most important features consumers are looking for in their next photo-capture device. All three are supported by smartphones.
Other popular features in dedicated cameras include high-quality photos in low-light environments, optical zoom capability and fast response time after pushing the shutter button.
“Mobile phones have allowed more people to capture spontaneous images and videos on the go. With increasingly better quality and the immediate gratification of instant sharing, the imaging industry benefits with more widespread enjoyment of photos and videos,” said Liz Cutting, NPD senior imaging analyst and executive director. “But the future for dedicated cameras is bright, as their dual purpose of still and video capture opens the eyes of consumers to multimedia memories. Imaging marketers should capitalize on the need for better and more creative editing, sharing, archival and printing.”
The rallies will be held every month until concrete measures, defending the interests of consumers, are adopted, organizers said. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency
Only a dozen people turned up at a rally in Sofia to protest against what they see as unfair and unfavorable practices of the Bulgarian mobile phone and telecommunications companies.
The protest was organized by two consumer rights structures – the Associations of Telecommunications and Internet Users and Active Consumers Association.
The rally was much smaller than expected as over hundreds of people had supported the cause in Facebook. The procession started at the St. Alexander Nevsky cathedral and culminated at the building of the Communications Regulation Commission.
The protesters declared themselves against several business practices of the Bulgarian mobile phone companies – M-Tel, Globul, and Vivacom. These include the automatic extension of subscription contracts, and large sanctions when contracts are terminated.
The two consumer associations insist on the creation of an ethical code of the mobile phone operations and new legislation to create a consumer board to “discipline” the companies.
They also slammed M-Tel, Globul, and Vivacom for sending automatic Text Messages with promotions and offers at any time of the day or night.
The rallies will be held every month until concrete measures, defending the interests of consumers, are adopted, organizers said.
Astral Media Inc. ACM.A-T is launching an outdoor advertising service that can target the interests and buying habits of a neighbourhood, in a strategic move that’s expected to help increase revenues.
The service uses available consumer data from Statistics Canada, lifestyle and consumer surveys as well as postal codes for its geo-targetting, Astral said Thursday.
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That means putting the outdoor ads – on billboards, transit shelters, street benches, columns – to reach specific groups of consumers in specific places.
“You’re really able to pinpoint the key areas where people, live, work, shop and play,” said Philippe Rene, senior director of research at the Astral Out-of-Home advertising division.
Rene said the technology that Astral is using can take specific consumer information, including habits and consumption, and put it on a map with a “high degree of precision.”
The technology, for example, would allow an airline to geographically target consumers with ads who want to vacation in the Caribbean or Mexico, he said. A bank could advertise mortgage rates to prospective home buyers in a specific neighbourhood.
It would allow an imported beer company to pinpoint key areas where consumers who drink imported beer live and where they’re most likely to spend their time, he added.
Rene said the service, called MARK, will help Astral increase revenues in its outdoor business division. “Definitely, we can win accounts based on this technology. So if we look at it this way, it contributes to our growth.”
Targeted ads based on people’s interests and demographics are already a staple on the Internet and it’s also being done on TV and on mobile phones.
Montreal’s Cogeco Cable CCA-T has announced it will test different ads for different TV viewers with a trial on Hamilton’s independent CHCH television station this year.
New wireless company Wind Mobile will let its customers receive rewards and discounts by opting into its targeted advertising on their mobile phones early this year.
Pattison Outdoor Advertising, a rival to Astral, said it offers digital advertising designed to reach targeted audience demographics.
Astral said consumers’ privacy will be respected and names and identities are not used to design targeted ad campaigns.
Astral Out-of-Home, a division of Astral Media, is one of Canada’s leading outdoor advertising companies. Astral operates more than 100 of the country’s most popular pay and specialty television, radio, out-of-home advertising and digital media properties.
VietNamNet Bridge – mobile phone subscribers are not only disturbed by advertisement SMSs, but also when a they are woken up at night just because service providers inform them that the money left in their accounts is 28,000 dong.
Lap, a subscriber of MobiFone complaines that every day since January he has been receiving two messages from the operator informing him how much money is left in his account. The worst thing is that these messages are always sent at midnight when he is deep asleep.
“Sometimes the messages are sent at 3 am”, said Lap. All say the same” “The money left n your account is 28,000 VND…” and “You have just added three messages to your SMS account…”.
“I have reported the problem to MobiFone, but until yesterday nothing has changed”, says Lap.
some subscribers of Viettel also complain they often receive the operators’ messages at inappropriate times.
Thinh, a customer at Viettel, said that three months ago, he downloaded eight songs to his mobile phone. When a song was successfully downloaded, he received three messages. And when the time-limit for these songs ended, another three messages was sent to his mobile phone to inform him.
Thinh’s mobile phone even broke down once when it received 24 messages at a time. The messages came at 12 pm when he was taking a nap. This continued on the following day and annoyed me very much”, he adds.
Thuy, a Vietnamobile subscriber, complains that she receives about 15 advertisements a week. Though she found it very troublesome, she does not use the block-message service,afraid that she would miss some important ones.
Viettel’s representative said that Viettel has received complaints from its customers about messages sent at inappropriate times. “Every time we receive complaints from consumers, we check the system and fix the problem”.
As for Lap’s case, Mobifone says that they have checked and solved the problem already. “We made an apology to the customer”, said one of the managersof MobiFone.
A Viettel customer, Long, complaines that he had been charged a roaming fee to China during his trip to Phanxipan Mount, despite the fact that he hadn’t left Vietnamese territory.
When he climbed to the mountain top, he discovered that the domestic mobile phone signal was intermittent while the foreign mobile operator’s signal – China Unicom – was very strong. Long’s mobile phone was set on the automatic roaming mode, so it caught the signal of China Unicom, instead of Viettel or other domestic Operators.
Long noticed this, but he ignored it since he was still on Vietnamese territory and couldn’t be charged roaming fee.
After the trip, Long received a message from Viettel i that his roaming fee to China was 20,000 dong. Although surprised and annoyed, but since the charge was not high,he decided not to complain to the mobile service provider. He said: “Lucky for me, I just received short phone calls. If I kept boasting about getting to Phanxipan’s top, I would have died because of thei phone bill now”.
A source f information from Viettel explained that for some kinds of cell phones, foreign mobile phone signal is stronger than domestic ones. If the phone is set on the roaming mode, it will automatically catch the stronger signal.
Washington, D.C. – infoZine – Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, today filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in support of its proposed rules to stop cell phone “bill shock” – the growing problem of customers hit by unexpected charges on their wireless bills.
Consumers Union’s submission included signatures from more than 47,000 people who back the FCC’s proposal to require wireless companies to notify customers before they exceed their limits on minutes, text, and data.
Parul P. Desai, policy counsel for Consumers Union, said some industry groups have dismissed the proposed rules as unnecessary. She countered that some carriers do not offer reliable tools for consumers to keep up with their limits, and the current efforts of carriers have clearly not limited the experience of “bill shock” among customers.
“Consumers Union believes consumers will benefit most from consistent, industry-wide rules, and thousands of consumers agree,” Desai said. “Consumers cannot rely on voluntary industry codes to protect them from experiencing ‘bill shock.’ The FCC should implement mandatory, enforceable rules.”
Among the consumer stories submitted by Consumers Union was one from a Maryland man who was hit with a $4,000 wireless bill after his daughter studied abroad in England, even though he took steps to ensure that she limited her phone use and was on an international plan. He said the carrier T-Mobile did not alert them that the real-time information on the data charges would be delayed, and the carrier provided no warning that he was building up a large bill.
Consumer Reports recently polled more than 58,000 readers and found 1 in 5 respondents had received a much higher-than-expected cell phone bill in the past year. Among those consumers who reported “bill shock,” half of them were hit with least $50 in overage charges, and one in five was hit with more than $100 in overage charges.
Related infoZine Cell Phone Bill Shock Article
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Ron Rakow had a cell phone but never owned a smart phone until a holiday promotion at U.S. Cellular caught his eye. He took the plunge in late December.
“It’s a computer,” Rakow, 44, of Mount Prospect, said of his new HTC Desire. “I was thinking of going home and canceling my Internet service.”
Rakow recently went to a workshop at a U.S. Cellular store in Rolling Meadows to get more comfortable with his phone and learn how to customize it. During the free one-on-one session, store employees walked him through using a navigation application, setting up a screen of speed-dial contacts and downloading an app that syncs with Apple’s iTunes on his home computer.
“This is a smart phone for dumb people,” Rakow joked.
Four years after Apple’s iPhone showed the world the potential of a powerful, fun-to-use mobile computer, wireless operators are looking to bring smart phones to consumers outside of the early adopter crowd.
At stake is the growing pot of data revenue that smart phones generate. Wireless data revenues totaled $46 billion in 2010, up from $41.5 billion in 2009 and $32.3 billion in 2008, according to data collected by industry association CTIA.
At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas early last month, T-Mobile Chief Executive Philipp Humm said smart phone penetration in the U.S. is just 31 percent of mobile consumers, leaving a wide playing field for carriers.
But catering to the mainstream requires different strategies than those used to woo early adopters, who are willing to pay premium prices and work out the kinks of a new product. Carriers are now offering smart phones at lower price points. These devices may lack the full processing power of the priciest gadgets, but they are positioned as entry-level products for younger users or customers who may be upgrading to a smart phone for the first time.
“Affordability is really critical to making sure we get market penetration,” Humm said at CES. Last year, T-Mobile launched four Android smart phones priced under $100 and introduced a $10 monthly data plan.
The growth potential for smart phone adoption is big. Research firm In-Stat released a report last week predicting that more than 50 percent of U.S. handset shipments will be smart phones by 2012. The 2010 percentage was 42.7 percent, a figure representing future sales to new and existing smart phone users.
“Prices have gone down for the data plans; they’re becoming more affordable,” said Allen Nogee, principal analyst at In-Stat. “Certainly the phone prices have dropped a whole lot. The operators are really pushing to have more volume.”
Demand for smart phones has also caught the attention of prepaid carriers, which in the last few years have been shedding their image of catering only to budget-conscious consumers or those with bad credit. Operators such as Virgin Mobile and Cricket Wireless have introduced Android smart phones and are offering competitively priced data packages without contracts.
“Within the prepaid space, you really are seeing what I would call a second wave of smart phone users now moving in,” said Bob Stohrer, vice president of corporate marketing at Sprint, which owns Virgin Mobile. “Those people … weren’t early adopters and have been standing on the sidelines for a while, but now recognize that smart phones and the ways that people can connect have fundamentally changed.”
At Virgin Mobile, the $249.99 Samsung Intercept represents about 20 percent of the operator’s sales mix, Stohrer said, upending the traditional belief in the prepaid industry that customers would balk at handsets priced above $99.
Prepaid carriers historically have offered lower phone subsidies than their postpaid rivals, but no-contract subscribers are showing a willingness to pay more for sophisticated devices — a dynamic that is boosting these companies’ ability to compete for smart phone users.
Cricket Wireless, for example, inaugurated its smart phone portfolio with the BlackBerry Curve in August and followed with two Android devices, including the Huawei Ascend, which costs $159.99. By the end of 2010, 9 percent of Cricket’s 5.3 million customers owned a smart phone.
“We saw that the demographic for prepaid and the demographic for smart phones was really a mass-market, value-driven demographic, much different than it was a few years ago,” said Matt Stoiber, Cricket’s vice president of devices. “We drove down a path of working directly with (manufacturers) in Asia to find the backside of the curve on price point.”
Traditional carriers are refining their pricing strategy for monthly data plans. Last year, AT&T replaced its $30 unlimited option with a two-tiered system where consumers can pay $15 for 200 megabytes or $25 for two gigabytes. Sprint is sticking with an unlimited offering, but now the carrier is charging new and upgrading smart phone users an extra $10 per month.
“There is a great debate going on whether you need unlimited or you sell megabytes and gigabytes,” said Carol Damit, director of advertising for Verizon Wireless in the Midwest. “Everyone is feeling their way through it.”
Carriers say today’s mobile phone shoppers are savvier about comparing the full cost of owning a device, from the handset price to overage charges and early termination fees. Consumers are also honing their preferences for operating systems, touch screen versus a physical keyboard and other features. David Owens, vice president of consumer acquisitions at Sprint, said “the sophistication of the user” is a major factor for operators as they drive smart phone adoption in the mainstream.
Consumers “are not going to walk in and for $50 less, buy something that’s not going to fit their needs,” Owens said.
Verizon installs speed brakes
On the day the iPhone went on sale for Verizon Wireless customers, the carrier delivered a warning to its heaviest data users: Verizon reserves the right to slow your access speed.
For the subscribers that fall within the top 5 percent of the network’s data users, Verizon said it may reduce their download speeds for the current and subsequent billing cycles. The company said the slowdown would most likely be periodic and during peak hours.
“Our proactive management of the Verizon Wireless network is designed to ensure that the remaining 95 percent of data customers aren’t negatively affected by the inordinate data consumption of just a few users,” Verizon said Thursday.
The new throttling option will only apply to customers who sign new contracts on or after Thursday; existing customers are grandfathered in and won’t have the speed brakes applied.
The global mobile phone market grew 17.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010 as consumers ditched their old phones and opted for one of the many new affordable smartphones appearing in the market.
“Mobile phone users are eager to swap out older devices for ones that handle data as well as voice, which is driving growth and replacement cycles,” said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker.
Device shipments rose to 401.4 million units in 2010′s fourth quarter, up from 2009′s fourth quarter figures of around 340.5 million shipments.
In the western world there is a strong consumer movement towards smartphones, but in emerging markets low-cost feature phone makers such as China’s ZTE are seeing their piece of the pie expand.
ZTE leapfrogged over handset makers such as Motorola, Sony Ericsson and Research in Motion (RIM) to claim the number 4 position worldwide for the first time during the quarter – but analysts with IDC are not sure how long the company will retain its current position.
“Change-up among the number four and five vendors could be a regular occurrence this year,” said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC’s Mobile Devices Technology and Trends team in a report released January 27.
“Motorola, Research In Motion, and Sony Ericsson, all vendors with a tight focus on the fast-growing smartphone market who had ranked among the top five worldwide vendors during 2010 are well within striking distance to move back into the top five list.”
Consumers in the market for a new mobile phone will continue to be seduced by the extra features found on smartphones in the years to come says IDC. This trend will boost smartphone submarket shipments by 43.7 percent year over year in 2011.
In the Asia-Pacific region low-cost feature phones and high-end smartphones flew off the shelves. Smartphones were exceedingly popular in Korea, accounting for two-thirds of phones shipped during the fourth quarter of 2010.
The iPhone 4 HTC Desire, Nokia N8, Samsung Galaxy S and BlackBerry 8520 were Western Europe’s top-selling handsets.
Apple and RIM lead the mobile phone market in the United States while smartphones from Nokia RIM, Samsung and Huawei helped boost the current social networking and messaging trends in Latin America.
Top Five Mobile Phone Vendors and their global market share in 4Q10
1. Nokia – 30.8%
2. Samsung – 20.1%
3. LG Electronics – 7.6%
4. ZTE – 4.2%
5. Apple – 4.0%
Others – 33.2%
New Mobile Phones 2011 are like boon to consumers Written by Aliks George Monday, 10 January 2011 09:10
Some of the best giving from technology are mobile phones. Earlier, handsets were less capable and could not performed various tasks. But now, technology has made them more capable to accomplish most of the works in a skillfull manner with ease and comfort. Nowadays, so many capable mobile phones are easily available in market and which help to a large extent. Out of those, you can go for any of choice. In case, you are not interested in those then go for latest mobile phones.
If reports are to be believed then new coming soon mobile phones 2011 are more capable than previously launched handset as well as can be wore as fashion accessories. In fact, mobile phones 2011 promise great efficiency and performance. You will feel delighted to know that latest mobile phones 2011 would easily be available with lucrative mobile phone deals. According to rumours, all the most-prominent network companies of UK including vodafone, virgin, orange, o2, three and t-mobile would offer such phones at competitive price. You just need to pick deal of choice that suits your needs and budget better.
To lock Upcoming Phones 2011 in a convenient manner, you do not need to do anything big except pay a visit to market and ask retailer or dealer. You can also take help from online portals. Both the modes have their own pros and cons. So, you should go for best per your convenience. We tell that market dealing is tiring and troublesome. Possibly, you might get in traffic jam on roads. In case, you do not want experience such practice then online shopping is the best mode for you.
For online shopping, you do not need to come out of home. Just switch on computer from home or office and order with simple clicks of mouse. After placing order, you do not need to wait for long time as their delivery system is fast and you gets delivery as soon as possible.
Aliks George is a business writer specialization in Telecoms and has written qualitative several articles. This article is about New Phones 2011 and Mobile Phone Deals.
Last Updated on Monday, 10 January 2011 22:48
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) has concluded that the consumer benefits promised by the major incumbent telcos and the government have not arrived. As well, the CRTC’s failure to use traditional procedural rules, such as cross-examination, has resulted in consumers being shut out of the regulatory process.
The PIAC, an Ottawa-based consumer organization, claims in its 218-page report, “Waiting for the Dream, The Consumer Brief for Telecom Reform 2010”, that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has used “questionably low thresholds for competition” in exercising forbearance.
As a result, ordinary consumers are still not getting the benefits promised to them by industry competition. In particular, consumers have received few benefits from the policy decision in December 2006 by then Industry Minister Maxime Bernier that ordered the CRTC to use market forces to the maximum extent possible, and ensure that regulation was minimally intrusive.
PIAC’s report principally recommends that “policy makers and the regulator stop trying to make decisions based on untested economic theories and make sure that markets actually work for consumers”.
Not only did the report conclude that Canada has had a mediocre performance in broadband and wireless, the deregulation of cable and satellite services from deregulation of basic service has delivered the opposite effect to consumers that one would have expected from competitive markets.
PIAC’s report recommends that the government rescind the Policy Direction of December 2006, and establish a licensing regime for all carriers with codes of conduct in place for all licensees. It also recommends reforms to the CRTC operations, including the establishment of more powers and resources recommended by the Government’s Policy Review Panel Report of 2006.
The results promised at the time, including lower local telephone rates, have failed to materialize, the report says. The report does not advocate a return to regulation in the telecommunications industry. Rather, it recommends the government allow foreign competition and more liberal rules for small market players.
Three new wireless services have recently launched in Canada, Wind, Mobilicity and Public Mobile, but PIAC claims that none has captured any substantial share of the market. This view counters recent reports that, in fact, the wireless start-ups are hitting the incumbents hard, having picked up one-third of all new cellphone subscribers.
Mobilicity claims to have already gained 50,000 wireless subscribers in the quarter, with Wind Mobile chairman Anthony Lacavera claiming his company would be “well north of 200,000” subscribers by the end of 2010. Overall, analysts estimate that by the end of this quarter Wind will have grown by 75,000 subscribers, Mobilicity by 70,000, Public Mobile by 40,000.
Stakeholder interest has affected pricing and service landscape
In addition to encouraging more competition, the report suggests mandatory licensing for all phone companies with appropriate codes of conduct and meaningful enforcement.
The report says the average monthly cellphone cost in Canada, including voice, text and data, is C$67.50, compared with C$59.99 in the United States and C$32.40 in the United Kingdom. In Europe, there are also ceilings on roaming charges when mobile phone users travel from country to country.
However, one could argue that some progress has been made: Telus‘s broadband internet service, which starts at C$22 a month, is about half the price of what dial-up service cost 10 years ago. Wireless can start at C$20 a month.
The report concludes that the failure of the regulatory reform of the last two decades to deliver the goods for ordinary residential consumers is not one that has its roots in theory, but in practice. Here, the interests of powerful stakeholders have affected the service landscape.
In the same way that incumbent players used their political and economic influence and regulatory capture to get their way in the monopoly era of regulation, the winners have used the market-based system to their advantage, the report says. As a result, neither regulation nor deregulation will help if the decision making process is skewed by conditions and assumptions that favour some stakeholders over others.
Most importantly, says PIAC, the governance and regulation of the telecommunications industry in Canada must respond to results. For the most part, the restructuring of telecommunications has been guided by untested economic theories, largely provided by experts engaged by the largest stakeholders. The relatively poor performance of telecommunications service for ordinary consumers should have long ago engendered a review of the regulatory framework and market structure that is producing the same. In the last five years, the only acknowledged measure of success has been how fast telecommunications services have been deregulated, with predictable market results.
The solution – new models
According to PIAC, the solution is not a return to old regulation but new models. First of all, there are a variety of consumer issues associated with basic rights for information, quality of service, security of service, disconnections, privacy etc. that should be met by all carriers whether they are incumbent or not. Basic service, obligations to serve, complaints resolution, and burdens of service in uneconomic areas have to be in place for all players. The best way to ensure that this occurs is for mandatory licensing for all carriers, with appropriate codes of conduct and enforcement with meaningful force in the form of administrative monetary penalties. The Telecommunications Act should be amended to reflect these improvements.
The report argues that the CRTC has never examined whether the interests of users remain protected by competition in forborne markets where the evidence seems otherwise (BDUs and Internet). While incumbent providers are continually agitating for change where the results are not favourable to their interests, consumers have had no such opportunity.
As a result, PIAC concludes that the Policy Direction is an impediment to achieving fair, balanced, results-based regulation and should be rescinded. The sections of the TPR Report recommending the primacy of market forces are, at least in practice, problematic for fixing real market consumer problems. As well, there should be no winnowing down of the objectives in the Telecommunications Act, rather a clarification of their importance in relation to the specific powers of the CRTC.
While the report is in favour of efforts at liberalization of foreign ownership telecommunications rules for new entrants or small market players, it also warns that it is no solution to all consumer problems particularly those associated with quality of service. As well, current merger rules should be tightened to prevent any competitive benefits from flowing away from Canadian consumers.
Finally, the report endorses the recommendations of the TPR Report in terms of improving the research and professionalism of the CRTC. It also notes the importance of the adjudicative function of the Commission and recommends the use of traditional procedural rules such as cross-examination where the facts and issues at stake warrant. Public participation in telecommunications policy making requires more structural support by the regulator and the government. In broadcasting, there is a critical need to level the playing field for non-commercial public and consumer interests by resourcing representation at broadcasting hearings in a similar way to the practice in telecommunications.