CELLULAR ATTACK: An advertisement board in Puncak, Bogor, West Java, shows the latest promotion from PT Exelcomindo and its product XL bebas. (JP/P.J. Leo) CELLULAR ATTACK: An advertisement board in Puncak, Bogor, West Java, shows the latest promotion from PT Exelcomindo and its product XL bebas. (JP/P.J. Leo)
Fierce competition in the mobile telecommunications market has once again raised concerns over fairness, as operators continue to exercise advertising strategies many perceive as potentially misleading.
Anxious to avoid repeated incidents, the Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) has demanded the government step in and evaluate circulating advertisements for mobile phone services.
Speaking on behalf of YLKI, Tulus Abadi said the ads lured customers using "old gimmicks" offering "low, lower or lowest" tariffs but failed to present necessary terms and conditions that came with offers.
The heated advertising battle began around the end of last year, when PT Exelcomindo announced its product XL-bebas offering Rp 1 per second rates.
The second biggest player in the market, PT Indosat, retaliated by promoting its Mentari offering a so called "zero tariff".
At present, Exelcomindo is advertising a new tariff of "Rp 0.00000...1 per second" for XL-bebas, while Indosat are offering "Rp 0.00000000001 per second" that applies to "all operators, anytime and anywhere".
"The government needs to make sure these claims are true. If an ad claims to provide "the cheapest tariff", for example, the government must check to see if this is true," Tulus said.
The current advertising campaigns fail to provide consumers with details and were therefore dangerous, he said.
"They woo us with claims that are unjustifiable and misleading, using terms like 'the cheapest' and 'zero tariff'," he said.
Consequently consumers are choosing services with almost no understanding of what is being advertised, he said.
Acknowledging YLKI's concerns, Heru Sutadi of the Indonesian Telecommunications Regulatory Body (BRTI), said advertisements should not only seduce, but also educate.
"Terms and conditions applied to the product must all be presented in one advertisement. Consumers shouldn't have to access other media to learn about these terms and conditions," he said.
He called for more involvement from advertising associations to provide suggestions and criticism to avoid misleading and false advertising.
Nurman Priyatna, a senior copywriter at a multinational advertising company, said the characteristic of 'above the line' media advertising was generalization.
"Some information needs to be sacrificed, otherwise, a single (television) advertisement could go for more than an hour," Nurman said.
XL corporate communications general manager Myra Junor said cellular operator's advertising was in line with regulations.
It was impossible to provide complete information in one advertisement, she said, but consumers could find details on flyers, websites and through call centers.(lva)