MOBILE OPERATORS TAKE OUT THE CHRISTMAS BAGS
Don't worry, M-Tel's new plan is here for all of you, Buy one, take one for free, That's perfect - for the four of us - you should have heard that all, as the ads of Bulgaria's three mobile operators are everywhere on TVs, radios, newspapers and billboards. That's logical, because with Christmas and New Year's Eve coming, competition among Mobiltel, Globul and Vivatel has reached its highest point. In fact, excitement is good for the consumers, too, as they have a chance to delight their relatives or themselves with a practical gift at quite a reasonable price.
It has already become a tradition for Bulgarian mobile operators to concentrate their biggest efforts on popularizing prepaid phone cards. Packages have advantages that cannot be ignored - they require neither long-term commitment nor a subscription fee and also offer various bonuses - films, bottles of wine, or boxes of biscuits.
Mobiltel has been trying to attract the admirers of the Roman Bacchus god of wine this year. By December 31, 2005, the stores of the operator are offering Prima promotional packages worth BGN19.98 with a bottle of champagne. The package includes BGN27 worth calls, with BGN15 offered right after the activation of the card and the remaining BGN12 - as a single bonus if an additional voucher is activated worth BGN15 at least. Those who are not able to pay more will not lose the extra amount - BGN1 of it is offered every month in the course of one year. A one-minute call costs BGN0.19 (VAT not included) for calls to five chosen numbers and BGN0.45 for all other calls.
Even more attractive is the Christmas Prima Classic Package. The conditions for the minutes included and the charging of the calls are the same as they are in the package described above. However, this set includes a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and a box of butter biscuits. The price should not be neglected, either - it is BGN9.90, and the promotion is valid until January 8, 2006.
The Prima Christmas star pleased the lovers of Bulgarian movies. By paying BGN9.90, they can acquire a package of three of Bulgaria's best DVD films - A Dog in a Drawer, Bonne Chance, Inspecteur! and Manoeuvres on the Fifth Floor. Then customers can share their impressions through the BGN27 card included in the promotion (15+12 minutes). The call is worth BGN0.28 a minute (VAT not included) within the network of Mobiltel and BGN0.49 to the other operators.
In response, Globul took out the heavy artillery - the b-connect holiday package with the operator's hit tariff. It includes BGN34 worth time for calls, of which BGN10 can be used when the card is activated. If this is to be done by January 14, the entire bonus worth BGN24 will be used (BGN2 in each of twelve months). After that date, the extra time will be cut by 50 per cent. The price of the calls amounts to BGN0.29 per minute (VAT not included) within the operator's network and towards fixed phone networks, but it jumps to BGN0.39 if you want to call a client of the competition. All that is for sale at the decent price of BGN9 by January 14.
The second GSM-operator keeps selling another requested prepaid communication package as well. It offers BGN15 worth time for calls and a BGN2 bonus for the six months following the activation of the card. Much more precious elements of this promotion are the first two episodes of the Star Wars saga which are offered on video cassettes.
To all those who activate a b-connect card (of any type) no later than January 14, 2006, Globul plans to make a Christmas gift - additional BGN12 worth calls which are to be used every month in the course of a year.
For the present, Vivatel avoids giving presents in addition to its prepaid cards. Instead, the company stakes on the talk for free principle. The operator promises it will restore all minutes its customers use until January 6. Besides, every package you buy between December 10 and January 6 provides you with a second one free of charge. Prices are fixed at BGN0.37 (VAT not included) per minute for all national networks. Whether or not such moves will reflect on Vivatel's financial results is not known yet, but that should not bother the customers of the company.
In general, the prepaid cards of both Globul and Mobiltel follow a clear trend - shrinking prices and keeping customers by small financial premiums usually spread on one year.
For the present, Vivatel is the only operator that does not use this scheme. However, this is mostly due to its managers' ambition to attract more clients in the first few months by much more lucrative offers. Moreover, one should not forget that the subsidiary of the Bulgarian Telecommunication Company (BTC) has not started operating with classical subscription plans yet.
However, the other two market players offer significant discounts in this sector, too. This is also the most profitable way for a customer to buy a new telephone and, what is more, to pay for it in instalments.
To all of its customers with contracts of at least one year, Globul offers a program called Together. Should you re-sign your contract with the operator, you will be given a free telephone of a relatively low class. Your other option is to buy an apparatus for the holidays at a preferential price or in instalments without an initial payment. The models offered include Sony Ericsson W800i which you can buy for BGN679 or for 12 instalments amounting to BGN58.25 in case you sign a one-year agreement. Currently, the same telephone is available in stores at prices ranging from BGN750 and BGN850. Among the other quite decent offers there are Samsung D500, Motorola V3, and Nokia 6230, which are sold at some BGN100 discount, too.
If you have already decided to offer a telephone as a gift, you should also look at what Mobiltel is offering. Apparatuses are sold by instalments at relatively profitable conditions by the middle of January. For example, Nokia 6230 is on promotion for a BGN89 (VAT not included) initial payment and twelve BGN32 worth monthly instalments. To profit by the offer, you need to have been a subscriber of the operator for at least one year and not have more than one leasing agreement in course. The mid-price category includes Sony Ericsson K300i which is sold for BGN199, but with a one-year agreement signed for one of the operator's tariff plans. The most accessible model is Sagem My X-1 Trio. It costs just BGN49 and is sold with a one-year contract, too.
In fact, although with an almost ten-year delay, the European tendencies in customers treatment are already making their way on the Bulgarian market. Mobile operators everywhere in the west give their customers a free telephone every time they sign a 1-year contract. It's true that they usually offer the latest models of the phones, whereas in Bulgaria operators give outdated ones for about BGN100. Still, there should be a beginning of the changes. Let's only hope this kind of attitude does not remain a lonely festive firework.