Wednesday, 29 January 2014

O2 be, or not be, O2

Dear O2, my dear dear O2,

It must be really stressful being part of the largest telecommunications company in the world. The problem is that the stress that comes with such jobs can do funny things to people. Some individuals go postal and embark on a random shooting spree, some kick back, put their feet up, and head off to a mental nirvana no longer capable of coherent thought or speech, others, such as the intellectuals at O2 have decided to take another route entirely.

You see O2, in their stress crazed minds, have noticed that customers pay them money. In fact, they pay them so much of the damn stuff that last year alone they made £332 million. Which, unless someone’s gone and changed how numbers work and not told me, is quite a lot. The problem is though, their customers still have money, and as big nasty Ofcom have rocked up and said that if you put your charges up mid contract that customers can walk away penalty free, O2 can’t get any of it. Sure, they could up their pay as you go charges, but that’d be like robbing a bank and walking out with the security guard’s wallet. So there must be a better idea.

It’s that better idea that the intellectuals O2 think they’ve struck upon.

But first some context, and a nod to Bill Hicks.

Back in the 70s it became fashionable to sue bands claiming that they’d driven someone to commit suicide. The question that was never asked was simple; What performer wants their audience dead? Can you picture the band in the studio? “Christ I’m sick of it. The money, the fame, the groupies, these people buying all my albums, t-shirts and concert tickets, giving me so much that I can have everything I want. We need to do something about this. Hey, why don’t we kill the bloody audience? That’d be great! Then I can go back to being a waffle house waiter!”

It made no sense. At its best it was hilarious, at its worse it was a sad indictment of a miserably low level of education and simple common sense on the part of the prosecutors. It has, since then, quite simply died a death. Nobody tries that kind of drivel any more, as it’s so obviously flawed it’s embarrassing.

Unless you’re O2. Because O2 have decided that while they don’t want their customers dead, they do want them to feel like they’re about as valuable to them as Michael Flatley with Rickets. Especially the ones who’ve been there for a while. New customers are fine, but long term ones? The ones who’ve been paying O2 for years? Screw ‘em. Apparently those longer term customers can happily have their contracted charges arbitrarily increased at a moment's notice and just have to accept it because they can’t leave their contracts early. Not new customers though, those are protected by a recent Ofcom ruling that allows them to leave if their rates are put up. So, for clarity, O2 are consciously, and deliberately singling out their longer term customer base for increased charges because they’re the ones who can’t leave. Yet. And it’s not their call costs, or their text message costs. No, those are costs that can be controlled by the customer through their usage. This is the flat rate contract price for your package. The one you have no choice about. The whole concept is little more than an acknowledgement that what they're doing is one huge motivator to their customers to leave, and publicly acknowledging the fact that that's what a lot of them would do. So, they've decided to leave the people who can leave alone, and screw the people who can't.

I guess what this really means is that their long term customers are the ones they have the better connections with.

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