Spending
What Mobile Carriers Are Really Saying in Their Ads
Digging into the fine print and details behind four recent ads in the US
 
The mobile phone world is a murky place. There’s the barrage of monthly charges, a baffling array of conditions, and techy terms that are truly confusing. For example, do you know the difference between a line and a phone? Because there is one. 
 
In the spirit of National Consumer Protection Week, we thought we’d try to help sort it all out by breaking down some recent ads from the top four mobile carriers and detailing their teeny tiny fine print that you may or may not catch as it rolls by in nanoseconds in the commercials. Our analysis is two-fold: What the ad says and the reality of that message.
 

SPRINT

 

 
What the ad says: Verizon and AT&T customers can switch to Sprint and their new mobile carrier will “cut your bill in half.”
 
The reality: Sprint will only cut your rate plan in half, which is the service costs of the bill. Additionally, the deal does not include the cost of actual phones that you must lease or buy from Sprint. Even Sprint’s CFO Joe Enteneuer admitted its savings promise amounts to “… probably getting a 20 percent sort of net discount.”
 

AT&T

 
 
What the ad says: “Now, get three lines for $120 a month with rollover data to share.”
 
The reality: In short, you will end up paying more than $120 a month. That’s because lines are not phones but rather access to a plan and the $120 does not include the monthly device payments you must make for each phone on the plan. So be ready to tack on that additional cost to your monthly bill.
 

VERIZON

 
 

What the ad says: “2 lines with 6GB for $100 monthly access”

 
The reality: Disclosing the cost for monthly line access while burying in the fine print that you will have to pay for phones to get that price — where have we seen this before? Just like with AT&T, Verizon makes you purchase phones through a monthly payment program in order to get the advertised line access rate. And what does that do? Say it with us: It increases your monthly bill.
 

T-MOBILE

 

 
What the ad says: “Keep your unused data up to a year.”
 
The reality: “Data Stash” is only available to T-Mobile customers who purchase 3GB or more of 4G LTE data. That’s what “Qualifying plan req’d” means. So smartphone users who don’t use much data reap no reward.
 
Click here for more of our coverage on smartphones. 
 

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Nifty and Bank Nifty remain in an uptrend – Monday closing report

Bank Nifty will be weak only below 19,500 and Nifty below 8,860

 

We had mentioned in last week’s closing report that NSE’s CNX Nifty may be headed higher. The 50-share benchmark opened Monday at higher level than posted Saturday and hit its intra-day high after an hour of trading. After this, the index started moving lower. It occasionally dipped into the red as well. However, post 1.35pm, Nifty regained its strength and moved higher and reached almost the same level as the day’s high and closed near to it. The S&P BSE Sensex ended flat because it does not have cement stocks, which the Nifty has and cement stocks were rallying strongly today.
 
Sensex opened at 29,533 while Nifty opened at 8,954. The benchmarks hit their respective high at 29,576 and 8,972. The indices hit a low at 29,260 and 8,885. Sensex closed at 29,459 (up 98 points or 0.33%) while Nifty closed at 8,957 (up 55 points or 0.62%). Bank Nifty managed trading in the green for the entire session. It opened at 19,955 and moved between 19,751 and 20,066 and closed at 20,008 (up 317 points or 1.61%). NSE recorded a volume of 109.93 crore shares. India VIX fell 6.61% to close at 15.8475.
 
State-run oil marketing companies (OMCs) increased retail selling price of petrol by Rs3.18 a litre at Delhi (including state levies), with a corresponding increase in other states. The diesel price was raised by Rs3.09 a litre.
 
Both the Houses of Parliament will take up the important legislative business of considering the bills to replace the ordinances promulgated during the inter-session period in the second week of the ongoing budget session beginning today.
 
Ratings agency Standard and Poor's (S&P) reportedly said that a relatively heavy general government debt burden and large budgetary subsidies could constrain its sovereign credit ratings on India. The rating agency said that India's budget for 2015-16 highlighted the government's commitment to keeping the fiscal deficit low.
 
Moody's said the credit profile still faces a constraint from the fiscal side, while the government has decided to focus more on growth than the fiscal consolidation. 
Indian manufacturing activity expanded at its slowest pace in five months in February as a slowdown in new orders dragged on overall output, a business survey showed today.
 
The HSBC Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index, compiled by Markit, fell for the second consecutive month, to 51.2 in February from 52.9 in January.
 
The finance ministry said that the union government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have signed an agreement on monetary policy framework, whereby the two sides have officially decided on inflation-targeting by the RBI. RBI will aim to reach retail inflation of 6% by January 2016 and further to around 4% by March next year.
 
The Commerce and Industry Ministry today sought imposition of import duty on cement in order to boost exports from the country. Cement stocks were strong today.
Coming back to Indian stock market, NCC (17.28%) was the top gainer in ‘A’ group on the BSE. The stock hit its 52-week high today. Muthoot Finance (7.19%) was the top loser in ‘A’ group on the BSE. The stock gave up its gains today after hitting its 52-week high on Saturday.
 
Axis Bank (5.64%) was the top gainer in the Sensex 30 pack. Government, raising excise duty on cigarettes, pulled ITC (4.97%) lower. It was the top loser in the pack.
 
On Friday, US indices closed in the red. Except for SET Composite index of Thailand (0.31%), KLSE Composite (0.22%) and Taiwan Weighted (0.22%) all the other Asian indices closed in the green. Shanghai Composite (0.78%) was the top gainer.
 
The People's Bank of China on Saturday cut the benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to 5.35% and reduced the benchmark saving rate by a similar margin to 2.5%.
 
HSBC's final reading of China's manufacturing sector in February came in at 50.7, much higher than the flash reading of 50.1.
 
European indices were trading in the red while US Futures were trading marginally in the green.
 

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Senior citizens need all the support from government and their families
There is a proposal to increase allowance under the old age pension scheme to Rs300 from Rs200 per month. How will this princely amount help anyone over a period of one month, is a question that the sarkari babus and ministers should answer
 
Exactly one week prior to the presentation of the Budget, press reports indicated that the CEO of Help Age India, Mathew Cherian, called on Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, seeking support and a suitable provision to take care of the elderly senior citizens.  Regrettably, the Finance Minister appears to have said that ‘we do not have enough money’, apparently to take care of this growing segment of the Indian population.
 
Help Age India appears to have conducted a survey, covering selected cities like, Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and Patna, in which 833 respondents, aged over 80 years, participated.  It has been found that while these people, in their hey days have contributed to the national economy, there is nothing for them in terms of support, when they need it most!
 
This report, further estimates that there are over 100 million elderly in the country and by 2050, there may be as many as 48 million people over the age of 80 and 324 million citizens who will be beyond the 60s!  All these people would need some state support, if it is not coming adequately from their own families!
 
At present, the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme allows Rs200 per month to those above 60 years of age, living below the poverty line; and there is a proposal to increase this amount to Rs 300!  How will this princely amount help anyone over a period of one month is a question that one would like to ask the authorities?
 
Traditionally, the Indian philosophy has been to take care of the elderly parents by the eldest son in the family.  However, due to changing circumstances and western style of living, children tend to branch out on their own, leaving the elderly parents to fend for themselves. As long as the parent, mostly the father in the earning sense, continues to work and gets a ‘pension’ from his office, there appears to be no problem in a joint family system that is in vogue throughout the country. Trouble starts, when the ‘earning’ elderly member retires, or dies and family squabbles lead to separation!
 
The elderly parents need their children's love but, as the Survey shows, as much as 80% of the "oldest old" face abuse with the family members, themselves! This is one big reason why they would like to move on to live in Old Peoples' Homes, if economically feasible.  If they have been smart enough to keep their savings and have made provision for such an unfortunate eventuality, moving into the Old Peoples' Homes is the only safe answer available to them. Government must extend medical insurance automatically until the end.
 
In the Budget, the Finance Minister has made a few concessions on the tax slabs, if the elderly still have ‘various incomes’.  The fact is that if the elderly had such levels of ‘incomes’, they would not be facing the abuse as found by the Survey, because this will be considered as ‘income support’ by the children, who will ‘take care’ of the parents.  The major issue is the ‘widowed mother’ that has no income, as such, and may therefore face troubles even when staying with her own children!
 
It is for all these reasons, the government must seriously consider that some kind of provision should be made which would enable them to build government sponsored Old Peoples' Homes, even as a start, for government servants. They may encourage corporate bodies to consider this as an additional benefit that they can extend to their staff, and, if necessary, seek a separate contribution from their employees and match it with their own contribution.
 
Either way, the fact remains that India needs to seriously make provision for taking care of the elderly, as many nations are doing the same. They cannot be left to fend for themselves in these difficult circumstances.            
 
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)
 

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COMMENTS

vasanti

2 years ago

Well said. Its also a fact that caring for one's aged parents is not left to the son alone. Daughters are doing it in their own measure, and doing it well too. It also is a fact that opting for an old age home for your parents is becoming a norm, rather than the exception. Sometimes, old parents voluntarily opt for it if only to be part of a vibrant ecosystem. So, yes a more concerted effort to set up affordable and well maintained old age homes is an urgent need. We might as well face this reality rather than pushing it under the carpet.

Dipakkumar J Shah

2 years ago

Who takes care? To be frank , In Budget it was provided that 1% Additional Interest will be given to seniors !!! Where gone god knows? Government knows. It has been reduced to 0.50 % by all banks???!!! Moreover State Bank of India and their associates and subsidiaries , have started cutting to 0.25 %!!!??? This is in line of Merger of all Subsidiaries and associates of State Bank Of India??? Further to this somehow or other way to keep less Competition amongst their Associates and Subsidiaries. They , Associates and Subsidiary were paying .050 b% more intetest to seniors and also more interest rates were given to Depositors. Now in line with State Bank of India reduced to equal of S B I deposit Rates and additional interest to seniors 0.25 % !!! This amounts to minimise Competition amongst them selves!!! Competition Commission knows this fact?? Any body has drawn any attention to this fact ???!!!
No body looks after this fact ... Money Life should do something for this area also.
Shah D J

MG Warrier

2 years ago

Government has to take the responsibility to ensure social security in general and care of the elderly and the disabled particularly. At this point I am not just on the issue of adequacy of old age pensions or share of healthcare in the budget. The euthanasia administered on a regular pension system that was in place in the organised sector(Yes, I am referring to introduction of NPS to camouflage the country’s unpreparedness to start funding the existing pension schemes- remember this was done to satisfy the spokespersons of a country which has an unfunded pension liability of over $4 trillion!) has added to the agonising situation faced by Indian middle class. Now wage bills have to factor in adequate pension component and the employers/employees in the organised sector will have to be guided to ensure that this component goes into a reliable pension fund.
As regards the inadequacy of old age pension, time is opportune to think in terms of affordable care homes, food coupons and availability of reasonably good food at affordable costs.

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