stories filed under: "commodities"
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Nov 5th 2007 8:45pm
Last week I was wondering why the various mobile operators couldn't just be honest to customers in explaining the limitations of various service plans. A report had come out saying that people were sick and tired of service providers lying about service and features -- and it seemed to me that a company that was honest would get a lot of customers as a result of that honesty. Of course, this also came only a few days after we were wondering why Comcast couldn't come out and give an honest explanation for why it was jamming certain types of packets. Blogger Tom Lee from the Manifest Density blog, has responded to both things (though, incorrectly refers to Techdirt as being anti-telco, which we're not at all -- we're anti-telco-stupidity, which is quite different), making a very perceptive point. He basically says that it's impossible for any of these service providers to be honest with customers because doing so would require them to first admit the truth to themselves: they're just commodity dumb pipe providers, and all their efforts at pretending to be something more are pretty much meaningless. Until they can admit that (and Lee's assertion is they won't admit that), they can't be honest with customers. There's definitely a large chunk of truth in there, and it explains part of what the problem is -- but I still don't think that precludes service providers from being a lot more honest, even as they try to provide additional value-added services that might not matter. Being honest and transparent with customers is a good marketing idea for these companies, especially as they're being challenged to be anything more than a commodity dumb pipe provider. Being honest can actually be a part of their differentiated appeal to customers.