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Relook – MVNO Mobile Services Singapore 1st Quarter 2021

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This post comes about because I have a friend who is asking me about recontracting without a phone. And so I took this opportunity to look at my history with my telco providers – Circles Life and Grid Mobile – in particular, and a few thoughts about the market in general.

Circles Life (Since 2017)

Circles Life is a company I have to give much respect for. They took a market long dominated by the 3 telcos and really churn the market up. Now our telco market is giving data as though it is the only way to attract people and definitely CL has a hand in doing that.

CL is also the first company that puts my Telco plans in an app and makes it possible to change aspects of my telco needs on the go. Need more data for the day? Just go to the app to add more data. It is very convenient.

During CL’s 4 years anniversary celebration, I was given 10GB of data so long I stay with Circles Life. So in total, I have 35.8GB of data for $18 which has a $10 Lifelong Discount for Loyal Customers. This is the main reason why I did not cut this line because it is so affordable to maintain and using it for phone reviews that I do with Techgoondu.

This is where CL is different from the other Telcos. Just by staying with them for a longer time, you will have more savings and data over the long run rather than switching to providers as and when they give you more data for a fixed time, usually 12 months. So that means in the long run, you gain more.

This is something that Circles Life should trumpet more instead of doing the same churn as the other Telcos. Remember, there will be a segment of people who don’t mind staying with the Telco because they don’t want the hassle to change Telco every 2 years. More about that later.

If you are looking to switch to Circles Life please use >>BOOSTER<< as the code to gain 3 months free data.

Grid Mobile (Since 2019)

The change to Grid Mobile is largely due to a friend who has issues with Circles Life. As her work area is not well served by M1 (it is Changi Business Park) and has spotty connection, I helped her find an alternative to M1 network. I was left with Starhub and Singtel and opted for the later.

There are plenty of MVNOs (mobile virtual network operator) from Singtel such as GOMO (Singtel’s own), Vivifi, Zero1 and Grid Mobile.

There are promotions galore and on first glance GOMO gives a lot of data (60GB for only $30) or $0.50 per GB. It feels cheap. Actually it is cheap but do you really need that much data in the first place? How to check? Just look at your past bills and it will give you an idea how much data was used.

Out of the options Grid Mobile is the only one that has some sort of loyalty program. After 1 year with them below is my bill for the last 6 months. Do note that there are people who have used my code to gain some benefits when switching to Grid Mobile so that helps to lower my bills. I am on the 40Gb for $24.90 plan.

Apr – $14.20 Mar – $8.85 Feb – $12.06 (birthday month bonus) Jan – -$2.39 (Grid re-embursed) Dec 2020- -$4.53 (Grid re-embursed) Nov – $5.64 Oct – -$7.20 (Grid re-embursed)

So the total amount of data is (7 months x 40GB) and my total bill cost is $26.63 or $0.05/GB or 10 times cheaper than GOMO. This is to me the most effective loyalty program I have seen thus far.

If you are looking to switch to Grid Mobile please use >>WILZGRID<< as the code to gain Grid Points that you can use to defray your monthly bills. More information about the loyalty program can be found here.

Photo by Askar Abayev on

Family Plans

The only MVNOs that I know of that has family plans are VIVIFI and Circles Life. CL has yet to launch their family plan and unlike Vivifi, their family plan does not restrict to biological family. That means you can group with your friends to subscribe and share data that way.

Is that a wise move remains to be seen. Only a small fraction of BFFs lasted a lifetime and if you ask me, use that as a second SIM connection rather than the mainline.

The Thing About Being Loyal

The one thing about being a loyal customer is that you are not shown that you are cherised especially by the big 3 Telcos. I was on the Starhub Hubber program but the things you can redeem with those measly points is nothing to shout about and for that matter, nothing to help customers of these Telcos to share with friends and families, like what I am doing here through conversations and blog posts.

The lack of a loyalty program leads to a price war because customers are basing their worth through the marketing churning rather than making effort to keep them. Time and again there are studies that shows the cost of keeping a customer is way lower than winning new ones.

One such page shows the following statistics:

  1. Acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer.

  2. Increasing customer retention by 5% can increase profits from 25-95%.

  3. The success rate of selling to a customer you already have is 60-70%, while the success rate of selling to a new customer is 5-20%.

  4. Loyal customers are 5x as likely to repurchase, 5x as likely to forgive, 4x as likely to refer, and 7x as likely to try a new offering.

  5. U.S. companies lose $136.8 billion per year due to avoidable consumer switching.

  6. American Express found 33% of customers will consider switching companies after just one instance of poor customer service.

But the above are lost with most Telcos and MVNOs. Even Vivifi and has no new strategies to grow their customer base judging from the lack of marketing on the webpages.

And the lack of a good loyalty program leads to this…

The articles on Channel News Asia website is an interesting read (the link to read is here). When your only strategy is to churn new customers as your only Key Performance Index (KPI) all the efforts are put in to draw customers into your company.

That is also the reason why contracts are so highly valued by these Telcos as it solidify their margins at least for 2 years. A loyalty rewards program did not see much fruits in retention is because the marketing department is fully focused on getting new leads and not keeping customers.

A simple monthly and quarterly message to the customers to tell them how much they save with their Telco makes it so easy for people to retain the mindshare of the company just like what Grid Mobile and Circles Life has done.

What’s more they make it easier to share the good news about the savings, more data or interesting customer experiences and events. I was given a simple Instagram share button by CL to tell my friends and followers about the 10GB data lifetime given to me on their 4th Anniversary event.

This does two things for the company

  1. It gives me a positive impression about the company I support

  2. Such gestures allow me to talk about the company (like now) easily because of the benefits I have received. This is free marketing and we all know word-of-mouth marketing is still the best. Even Forbes agree with me.

The article has quoted Assoc. Prof. Nitin Pangarkar (NUS Business School) as saying ““It is very difficult to predict how a market will evolve when you liberalise it. You can’t have affordable low prices and also have innovation and quality customer service. Something has got to give.”

The thing is this. Companies can still earn so long it meets the need of consumers. If the companies keep piling on data after data, to a point it is not a great marketing tool.

I am good with 30GB based on my monthly usage but right now I have a total of 76GB with maximum cost of $43 (much lesser with Grid’s discounts. Lowest cost was $11 for 66GB and with two lines). After this glut of data, I am not looking forward to switching because it makes no sense.

So the only way forward (again as I reiterated this for the last 4 years), is to come out with a good customer loyalty program so people will not switch even if they have good reasons to do so. That way, Telco can start earning money again, rather than sacrificing so much data that does nothing but to make it untenable for all the players involved.

And since I am on this, time to delink phone purchase with your contracts. There are more savings over the long run (up to a few hundred dollars for every 2 years) than grouping the phone purchase with mobile contracts. You can read how I compare the numbers on this page. Yes, it is written back in 2017 but the way to calculate is the same.

You may also want to read another article that may work if you decided to sell the phone but with the caveat that you will be in a contract. Remember that if you break the contract, there is a hefty fine and the money from the phone you sold is used elsewhere. And also note in Option B, the article did not take into account the minimum data that a user needs and once your data requirement is over 15GB, you have to choose a plan with a higher data allowance.

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