Sharp End: Whose rev share?


Revenue share – whose money is it?

Okay, so we’ve had a couple of weeks to digest the new revenue share schemes from Orange and T-Mobile. It would seem [with Orange] the ongoing commission element of a dealer’s remuneration is not paid by the connecting dealer code (the dealer) but rather by the supplying distributor.

Therefore, if a dealer’s distributor goes out of business, or he falls out with his current distributor and starts with another, the ongoing he has built up (and supplied kit on) stops getting paid. It either remains with the distributor if it is still in business or falls back to Orange if the distributor fails for any reason. If correct how can this be fair?

In these uncertain times no business is immune from hard times and failures. Take the recent case of Advantage for example. If this had happened a few months later, after ongoing payments were settled and accumulating nicely, then independent dealers would be hit twice as bad.

Firstly they would lose out on any reduced upfront commissions that were due once the distributor had failed. They would also lose out on the continued ongoing payments too. Remember that it is the end-dealer that is subsidising the kit costs and many times the initial upfront commission does not cover the kit cost. The dealer will rely on receiving ongoing commission to make a profit.

Orange needs to jump in here and clarify what will actually happen. Any dealer (officially) selling Orange has their own dealer code so it is the easiest of administration processes to ensure ongoing revenue continues to be paid to the connecting dealer. This will have the added effect of ensuring distributors give good service to their dealers.

3 sharers, data bundles

This week another dealer pointed out an issue with 3’s small print concerning adding sharers to existing business share plans. This issue was initially raised on the Phone Dealer Forum over two years ago and at the time it was explained away by 3 as an error but never really clarified.

The small print reads: “If additional members join a Business Share tariff during the contractual minimum term, your contract will carry on until the end of the last new member’s contract.”

So, if you have a customer with, say, 10 phones connected by you 12-months ago on an 18-month contract and they need another sharer added to the account, then all the handsets will have their contract end-dates extended to match the end-date of the last phone connected. In this case it would add another 12-month onto each and every handset. Is this fair? Is this legal?

This small print was recently communicated to all dealers in response to Ofcom’s directive on fairer termination fees. One of the highlighted points raised by 3 was: “A minimum contract period must be clearly highlighted and easy to understand for customers right at the point of sale”. It’s a shame then 3 has to hide this very major drawback to contract lengths within the small print.

If it is truly an “error”, as was communicated to us two years ago, then 3 should immediately rewrite its small print and inform all dealers this particular term is indeed incorrect. Come on 3, follow Ofcom’s guidelines and clarify the small print.

On the plus side, 3 has recently improved its £15 per month Data Modem offering with a massive 15GB of data for customers committing to 24-month contracts.

It has always been difficult trying to communicate to customers how much they can use their data modems before exceeding their 1GB or 3GB data allowance.

This 15GB allowance more or less removes the uncertainty behind data allowances as 15GB equates to more than 15,000 emails, plus 480 music downloads, plus 300 minutes of video downloads. That will be enough data usage for most customers. Remember, though, this £15 15GB offer is only valid on two-year contracts. For 18-month contracts the customer pays £30 per month for the equivalent 15GB of data.

Universal Box BB5 SL2 unlocks

For those out there unlocking some of the newer BB5 SL2 Nokia phones using Universal Box, beware. The box can damage your customers’ Nokia phones.

I had a customer’s Nokia 6500 slide phone, which I tried to unlock with the Universal Box (normally just a simple matter of clicking on ‘Unlock SL2’). This time, after whirring away for a little bit, Universal Box reported back ‘SIM lock Invalid’.

The box had corrupted the IMEI. After searching support forums, Universal Box replied to other users who reported similar findings that it was impossible for Universal Box to damage an IMEI. 

The only way to repair IMEI is to request what they call an ASK RPL however; this service is currently unavailable from Universal Box. I pointed out my experiences and the same experiences by many others and the UB team have now agreed to investigate the latest release a little further.

This particular cockup has caused a lot of grief as the customer is a young lad and his parents are none too happy about the delay taken to put the phone right.

Normally the Universal Box is brilliant. But things can go wrong for whatever reason and this one minute unlock can run into many days to recover a working phone.

This article appeared in Mobile News issue 437 (April 20, 2009).

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