Virgin Mobile was deflowered by Department of Telecom for not complying with licence norms. For those who have come late, Virgin Mobile is a mobile virtual network operator. They tied up with Tatas and wee about to start off their services here in India.
I fired an email to their PR division. Their comments came in an attachment; not a good PR strategy in my opinion. They should have sent a seperate email or should have had a logo prominently displayed.
Here is the exact copy. My comments appear in italics in paranthesis.
1) Is Virgin a Mobile Virtual Network Operator independently acting in India?
Virgin Mobile services are being offered to consumers by Tata Teleservices through a brand franchise with the Virgin Group. This means that Virgin Mobile is a brand of Tata Teleservices. This brand franchise is within the permitted norms of license agreement of Tata Teleservices (Confused statements. Nevertheless, the supposed licence agreements have been invalidated by Department of Telecom in their wisdom. The email from the PR division came in before this happened).
2) Do you have a tie up with Tata Teleservices?
Virgin Mobile India is an equitable partnership (then what is the brand frachise?)between Virgin Group and Tata Teleservices. Virgin Mobile India will provide Tata Teleservices with experience and expertise in designing, marketing, and servicing Virgin Mobile branded products for the youth segment.
3) Who has designed your website?
Need inputs (Ha! They don’t know the name of their web designer!!! This has been prominently displayed on their home page. At first, I realised the futility of the question AFTER I had sent the email. However, even I was not prepared for their answer. Anyone with the right brains could have easily figured that out. Despite all the flash, it is choked of coding errors- a common refrain of most of the websites not designed to comply with web standards).
4) Why do you make service guarantees for network availability? Are you 100% sure that your network would not fail as compared to other service providers?
Virgin Mobile places huge importance on ensuring that we deliver a high quality service to customers. This philosophy pervades in everything that we do- quality of network, range of handsets, value added services on offer, customer care etc. We chose Tata Teleservices because we believe it has the best quality network in India (Who decides that?). According to published reports (where?), Tata Teleservices has the lowest dropped call rates and one of the lowest blocking rates in the industry(how?). This means that ‘Virgin Mobile’ branded customers will reliably be able to enjoy clear calls, a fast connection and low dropped-call rates(Low dropped call rates? Despite the network, customers would still experience call drops! Even though, they may be low by industry standards!!!).
5) Why did you choose to go ahead with Virgin?
Virgin brings extensive experience and expertise in targeting the youth market across 7 countries over the last 8 years. It is this experience, service innovation and ability to catch the pulse on the youth market that makes Virgin a perfect partner for our ‘youth’ brand.
All in all, it remains a perfect example of PR crap. Tata seriously needs a reality check. They have honest intentions; they need to tap the youth market. Their perception in the market is jaded and also ran; which is different from say Hutch. Most of the companies are aspiring for “youth tag” and hope that it would add “zing” to the company.
Why youth? They aspire for a better lifestyle and if a brand fits in their perceptions of being the “right one”, they would splurge on it. It remains true for the metros as well as the smaller towns and cities. However, Virgin Mobile would need massive advertising money to cause a “brand recall”, just like they have associated a dog with Hutch. For the same reason, having Shah Rukh Khan for Airtel has not worked well because he endorses many other brands. Further, Airtel’s marketing division is pits.
I feel that the PR divisions needs a better infusion of brains than the current crop of retards that presently infest them. They need to tone up their language primarily because flowery English doesnt work. Unless someone is looking at impressing some starry eyed nut.
By the way, their website designer is bcwebwise. It speaks very highly of it’s boss who is an ex journo and has ventured in web designing. It has jarring colours and as usual coding errors Not a very comforting thought to pay dollops of money to those who cant even ensure compliance to web standards.
Update: I got an email from their PR agency saying that the attachment was sent by mistake. They wanted to send a further email from their PR agency regarding the new development of licence norms. They wanted my telephone number in order to speak to me and clarify issues.
Incidentally, Virgin India came with front page advertisement on 10/03/2008 in Delhi edition of Times of India. They are paying the customers to recieve incoming calls. In my opinion, this is basically a gimmick to lure in customers initally; their call rates are almost similar as that of other operators.
I shall keep this post updated as and when newer developments happen.