Did you say FREE?

Here’s my question. If you’ve already paid for something in advance, like a subscription charge, how can the service offered in exchange for the subscription charge be called “Free”?

Interesting? Because there are at least 3 to 4 service providers in the country which claim to offer free services, but with a subscription charge payable in advance. Let me give you a run through these, and the catch in each one, starting from the one that had started off the entire spree.

Ufone

Yes, believe it or not, Ufone was the first one to offer the so called FREE service. They offer a bulk SMS service, which are neatly and quite affordably bundled in 4 packages, each having their own upfront subscription charge. These are offered to PrePay customers only, by the way. When you subscribe to any of the 4 packages, they return with 2 messages, one being that they have received the request, and the second one indicating the success of the transaction.

The message that comes through tells you how many FREE (in caps too) SMS remaining, and also indicates the deadline. Funny, I just paid for a free service!

PTCL

Here’s what PTCL says on its website:

Question is, if something is absolutely free, how can you charge for it. Either you state very obviously without deliberation that its a limited free access, or don’t say it at all!

Zong

And here’s the most wonderful example of a free service. There is a prepaid package called “Free Package”, which allows a subscriber to identify one on-net number, which he/she can call innumerable times, absolutely free. The catch is, you have to pay a monthly subscription charge of Rs 500 (plus tax, of course). Again, why call it free when you end up paying?

Or perhaps people have forgotten that FREE actually means FREEEEEEEEEEE not pay and then call it free! Or perhaps there has to always be a catch, and the customer must be made a fool!

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