On February, 24 at the web-forum of St. Petersburg based ISP Interzet several subscribers' complaints appeared who were randomly shown a page with ads. Its themes, as well as their respective logos, and even address of the page appear to be saying that this action has been organized by InterZet itself .
At the forum of the provider a heated debate immediately took place, users demanded the comments from the administration of the site. Soon, representatives of the provider confirmed that InterZet was testing a new option in the area Rjevka - Porokhovye. Testing lasted for four days, and is currently suspended.
According to the company, these actions are linked to the global project of improving customer loyalty. Its most important element is to inform users about new programs. "Now all the information on pricing, promotions and bonuses can only be found on our website. But if everything works smoothly, and the payments are carried out through payment terminals, then our subscribers may not visit our web-site for months litterally", - complains Dmitri Anchunov, CEO of InterZet.
Updating subscribers on the phone or via e-mail is considered by the CEO ineffective and unpopular ways. Therefore, it was decided to introduce a system whereby at the time of each new launch of Internet Explorer instead of a home page for 20 seconds there is an information page of the company, but not more than once a day.
It also tells how you can disable this option. "Initially we planned to test this system in the office, but due to the excessive zeal of our specialists it was immediately tested on our subscribers in the area of Rjevka - Porokhovye before completing the final testing and debugging", - explained Mr. Anchunov. This annoying technical overlay could not be eliminated within four days. Subscribers already recieved an apology for the inconvenience over the phone or via the forum. And despite the dissatisfaction of users with these changes, after the holiday option will be relaunched on Rzhevka - Porokhovye, a district with a high proportion of InterZet subscribers.
The company's spokesperson told that in a few months will be launched several marketing programs, and that it's in this way InterZet decided to inform their subscribers. First, InterZet plans to introduce a system of urban discount (discounts at restaurants, fitness clubs, shops of the city), secondly, the bonus system, as it has already been done by some mobile operators. Also several new tariffs and internal web-portals are preparing for the launch which, according to developers, will facilitate the navigation on the Internet.
This method of self-praisethe provider does not even consider as an advertising in the classic sense. "Those reports that we place on the opening page - this is inside information, and therefore, it is not advertising. The subscription agreement states that we are not only entitled but also obliged to inform our users", - said Interzet CEO. Therefore, the company is not afraid of court claims from the part of its subscribers.
Prudence has kept InterZet from violations of the law "On advertising", commented provider of independent counsel Alexander Titov. Otherwise, subscribers could complain about the actions of the operator in the FAS, and the company could be facing a fine of up to half a million rubles. Subscribers as consumers could also seek compensation for moral damage.
"Such initiatives can be an irritant for subscribers," - said Marianna Yankova, Senior Specialist of External Communications of St. Petersburg branch of VympelCom. SkyNet is also feared of the negative attitude of subscribers to the provider provoked by such actions. "We do not think the model proposed by InterZet is very attractive. Maybe because we had no urgent need to transfer our customers to our web-site on a mandatory basis", - said Andrey Shpeder, executive director of the company. SkyNet sends to the subscribers SMS-notification and that way to communicate, according to Mr. Shpedera, works well.
"The fundamental error of InterZet is that they are connected such an option to paid tariffs. This is called an imposed service, - said Oleg Leonov, commercial director of Summa Telecom. - So, having decided to earn a penny, InterZet receive the negative response both from their clients as well as by regulators and other market participants".
"The indignation of users on which testing took place is completly just, - the analyst of AC & M Consulting Dmitry Yaremenko said. - Perhapsthe actions of InterZet may be somehow associated with active rumors about the possible sale of the company. Its shareholders are interested to create an additional public relations cases to raise the price of the transaction. Following the recent reports that the provider moved into second place in St. Petersburg on in terms of number of subscribers, the story of advertising seems the next step in that direction".
by Darya Afonina