Telecommunications Company LIME announced yesterday that they will be cutting call rates for on net and international calls to a low of $2.99 per minute. This is being offered to customers under what LIME has dubbed TALK EZ. On the surface, the move seems legitimate but if one closely examines the proposal, we realize how incredibly naïve LIME is being and that this move is little more than a poorly veiled attempt to once again trapJamaica’s mobile users in their web of poor mobile service. I have several issues with this new undertaking and I wish to discuss them
LIME is optimistic that this move will lure customers away from Digicel, but I’m wondering if LIME’s network can accommodate a huge surge in customers. Their network just might collapse. Digicel currently covers 90% of the island, what is LIME’s coverage? Kingston, St. Andrew, St. Catherine (my friend pointed out that he gets no coverage in Linstead) and probably the urban parts of St. James? This isn’t enough. LIME’s marketing strategy is all over the place and quite frankly, it is whack! Somebody clearly didn’t do their homework. They need to understand that before they can really attract customers, they have to do the groundwork, a key part of that is island wide coverage. My friend joked that LIME has about five hundred (500) customers on their network, while Digicel has two (2) million and counting. It sounds funny, but it might just be true. LIME is trailing Digicel by far and this is a desperate attempt to play catch up. 2.99 per minute is useless if you don’t have signal and proper reception. How are customers going to utilize that service? Digicel will always stand above LIME because the average man can still talk for five minutes and get the next 25 free, no matter where in Jamaica he’s calling from. The vast majority of Jamaicans aren’t Blackberry users, that vast majority wants to know that they can talk free after 11pm, that they can send five (5) texts and get 100 free. I repeat, you need good signal and good reception to do that. LIME still hasn’t mastered that, $2.99 or no $2.99.
While LIME has packaged this move as customer driven and inspired, I can’t help but wonder what happens to the company itself. First of all, how are they able to afford this? LIME recently lost something like $20 billion; as far as I see it, the company is now on very shaky ground financially and this promotion might just be the last nail in a coffin that’s already closed. Secondly, this move effectively guarantees the death of the landline for LIME. With cheaper mobile rates, why would their customers need the expensive landline? This equals more financial losses for the company. Pretty soon LIME might have to raise mobile costs again, because these rates are simply not practical or feasible. Where will that leave the customers? Out in the cold, that’s where. Not even the most profitable mobile providers in theUnited Statesare providing these rates. It is a desperate grab for customers and quite frankly it is ludicrous. LIME has waited too long to play catch up and whileJamaicamay have forgiven LIME, the name change has not erased the memory of the years of abuse and neglect we suffered under that monopoly. I can personally recall not having service at home, and having to go through all manner of evils just to be able to check my credit – it was simply absurd. We may have forgiven you LIME, but we will never forget.
Finally, my decision to stay with Digicel is cemented by the fact that Digicel gives back to Jamaica. I was touched the other day when I read in The Jamaica Observer that The Digicel Foundation had decided to sponsor that young man in St. Catherine who had started a computer shop with only one computer, Digicel gave him an additional six I believe. The shows and initiatives we all love so much, all brought to you by Digicel. Whether it is School’s Challenge Quiz, or Rising Stars, or the Ity and Fancy Cat Show – it’s all Digicel. Digicel took the first step to lower rates; they lowered rates that serve the customers without putting their company at a huge loss – that for me is true innovation, that for me is the Bigger, Better Network. Do not be fooled by this drastic cut, there has to be a catch. LIME needs to tell us what it is. Can a company named LIME really provide an authentically sweet deal for mobile users in Jamaica? Frankly, I highly doubt it.