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MOBIVOX criticized for new pricing

Yesterday’s weekend of driving was bonkers – 17 hours in total. When I arrived home last night, I was looking forward to a relaxing wind-down with a glass of wine, and catching up on the latest BattleStar Galactica, which the DVR had recorded for me Friday night. The promo trailers had been promising “all will be revealed”, which to me, and I’m sure legions of BSG fans, implied learning the identity of the remaining Cylon.

Well, it was not to be. Last night’s episode revealed the story behind Roslin’s kidnapping aboard the Cylon base ship, and then “revealed” that the story wouldn’t conclude until 2009. It was a classic bait and switch, leaving us with one more of the cliff hangers that has become one of the hallmark’s of the series.

Bait and switch is a fine tactic for story telling but in business it’s not such a good thing. On Friday, my friends at MOBIVOX learned this the hard way. A posting to their forums from Director of Operations Jerome Arnaud announced that they would be cancelling their free calling between members feature, prompting outrage. The reason they’re doing this is to be able to pay for higher quality, and therefore more expensive, networks to complete calls. The free calls have got to go.

The problem MOBIVOX has created for themselves is that despite having lots of cool features, their marketing has emphasized free calls – “Give the gift of free calling”, “Start calling family and friends around the world for FREE”, etc.

Raising prices is hard to do, but it can be done successfully. Truphone, for example, has executed a nearly identical move to MOBIVOX in announcing the end of free calling on their network. However, Truphone positioned free calling as a promotion right from the start. Truphone even put out press releases on several occasions announcing the extension of promotional free calling. When they finally made the decision to end it, users accepted it without any complaint.

MOBIVOX is a cautionary tale about the perils of the webs favourite pricing model: FREE.

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{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Greg Spector June 10, 2008, 6:40 am

    Hi Alec – Greg from Rebtel, here. Just a quick not to let your readers know that Rebtel still offers free calls between 46 countries — no strings attached, no restrictions. Yes – you have to jump through a hoop or two to do it, but it's totally free.

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