Necessary Evil

I remember this line Tom Arnold mentioned in the movie True Lies.

“Women. Can’t live with them. Can’t kill them.”

Ahahaha, no, this is not a knock against the idiosyncrasies of the female half of the species. Like I said, necessary evil. Those things that do more harm than good but at the same time have become indispensable in your life. Like a sucky job, a high-maintenance car, or an obnoxious “friend” that you still keep around so you could have someone to borrow money from.

Or cell phone companies.

Specifically, the concept of “unlimited texting”. I’ve been hearing a lot about it for quite some time now but hardly paid it a second look, mainly because it doesn’t concern me (I have a post-paid line). It was only earlier this evening when my wife explained it to me in detail that I realized how devilishly ingenious these cell phone companies are. Yes, devilishly. I mean exactly what the word connotes. In order to avail of unlimited texting, let’s say Globe’s, you have to register a fixed amount depending on the number of days you want to have unlimited texting. Like for 5 days unlimited texting, register 80 pesos. Which means if you bought a 100 peso load and registered in unlimited texting for 5 days, that’s 80 pesos (81 if you consider the 1 peso maintaining balance) gone forever. Sure, you get to send as much text messages as you want to any Globe number within 5 days. That’s a lot of savings. Yes, you have to purchase an extra load balance to use your phone to text other non-Globe numbers, but so what? That’s what you used to do anyway, buy load to text people, no matter who their providers are. At least here, heavy users could save if they send more than 80 text messages in 5 days if you’re only sending to fellow Globe subscribers.

Like I said, devilishly ingenious. A production scheme that markets itself. Because in order to make full use of this, Globe users would then have to convince their family, friends, business contacts and everyone else whose names are in their directories to use Globe sim cards or buy a separate Globe sim card (for the lucky ones who have more than one phone) so they could all share in the savings. Pretty soon Smart and Sun will be following suit with almost the same exact scheme, and their subscribers will do exactly what Globe users are doing right now. Result: slow but sure polarization of cell phone users. Globe users only contact Globe users, Smart users only contact Smart users, and same with Sun. Freaking great savings, guys! Who cares if I couldn’t say hi to my mom anymore? It’s her fault for keeping a Smart account when she knows I have a Globe sim.

But hey, business is business. Never mind that it cleverly circumvented the government requirement for telecomm providers to interconnect. It’s actually something to applaud, right?

It also smacks of greed.

Here’s a question: with the cross-provider text message rate being at a constant 1 peso per message, why does Globe keep its “unlimited texting” scheme to Globe subscribers only? There’s no overhead in opening it to Smart and Sun providers, is there? If their intention is really to help their subscribers save money, they’d do this, right? Maybe increase the registration fee a little bit, like make it 160 pesos for a 6-day unlimited texting to cover the profit margin. It would still save people a great deal, regardless of their cell phone service provider. More importantly, it wouldn’t have to polarize people based on their cell providers.

But we all know this is not their intention no matter how much they trumpet it, right? This is big business. Big bucks. Big greed.

But sorry, the world as it has evolved today needs these cell phone service providers. So, no, can’t kill them.

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An incorrigible Gen-X cynic who writes too damn much