Sunday, January 07, 2007

Really Bad Consumer Journalism From The BBC

I have just seen the worst piece of telecoms related "consumer" journalism that I've seen in a long time on BBC News 24. It was about how people on some pay as you go mobile networks pay more for cross network calls than people who are on contract and they portrayed it as some huge conspiracy by the mobile operators to rip off consumers.

While the mobile operators are guilty of many, many sins against against the consumer, this is not one of them. My biggest problem with the item was how they kept banging on about how "people who use PAYG to be in control are loosing that control as they sometimes pay up to twice as much as people who are on 'multi-contract'". How is paying twice as much per call compared to people who are contracted to pay for minutes they may not use "loosing control"? You know (or at least can find out) how much a call to a particular network costs and you know what your usage pattern is. So you can work out if you would be better off on a monthly contract or on another network.

The BBC hauled out two different pay as you go consumers, a heavy using teen and a low using mum. The mum found her costs rose heavily after her daughters switched to Virgin. Would she have been in "more control" if she was on a monthly contract (which is what the entire item seemed to be about) - no, she would have been just wasting just as much money as before her daughters switched. She still had more control, as it's possible that the best thing for her to do is to switch networks, which is a lot easier when you don't have a contract. As for the teen, as a heavy user he would be better of with a monthly contract - but he can't get one as he's under 18. It's hard to feel that sorry for him though - not being able to get credit is one of the many "unfair" things about being a teen.

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