On February 21, Reliance Jio chairman MukeshAmbani said that its free tariff scheme would end on March 31. He announced an attractive plan of 1 GB data usage per day and unlimited calls at Rs 303 for 28 days at a one-time fee of Rs 99.
Registration for new tariff plans started on March 1. Within a few days, the company further sweetened its offer through ‘Buy One Get One Free’ scheme. Under this scheme, the company is offering an additional 5GB data for its Rs 303 plan if customers recharge before March 31.
Now the question is what was the need of launching ‘Buy One Get One Free’ offer within a few days of starting registration of customers for paid services? Does it mean that lukewarm response for its Rs 303 tariff plan under its prime membership scheme forced it to launch ‘Buy One Get One Offer’.
On Tuesday, I was in a panel discussion on telecom tariff on a Business TV channel. During advertisement break, the anchor told me that she has also got a Reliance Jio SIM but she wouldn’t continue with its services after March 31. Both Airtel and Vodafone had improved services, while Jio’s quality of services was still an issue.
Prompted by the anchor’s response, we did a small survey of about 20 shops and Jio Centres in Delhi. We wanted to find out how many subscribers who registered for its free services had registered for its services.
Employees at the Jio Centres told us they were hopeful that about 50-60% of the total subscribers would register for prime membership. However, the shops not owned by Reliance Jio said that only about 30-40% of the free customers would retain their services once it becomes paid.It is possible that many subscribers who bought SIMS from these shops are registering online for paid services.
It is a clear indication that the customer response to paid service is not overwhelming despite Rs 303 plan. That is the reason that it was forced to make the deal sweeter through ‘Buy One Get One Offer’.
These are the same shops where the crowd went out of control when Jio launched its services in September 2016. In some of the shops police was called for controlling the crowd. Reliance JIo officials proudly tweeted photos showing crowd outside these shops.
We sent a query to Reliance Jio on the number of customers that have registered for paid service through prime membership program. The company didn’t reply.
When I talked to telecom expert B K Syngal, who was in the same panel, his observation was: “Existing high end customers have inertia and they will shift to a competitor only when there are some compelling reasons such as very low quality of their existing Operator or very high quality of competitor or big price difference.”
“The fact that Jio started offering ‘Buy One Get One Offer’ to its customers within a few days of registration for its paid services shows its desperation. It is a clear sign of nervous.”