Tuesday, December 21

Glorious past, gloomy present

Slogan of Ufone campaign is “it's all about U”, but the fact is that the management has made Ufone a venture to be run according to their whims and wishes.

Ufone is the official mobile company of Pakistan, and is the sister concern of the PTCL. When Ufone was started in 2001, it was after full public participation, its name was finalised. Media–print, electronic and outdoor advertisement–was used to solicit public opinion for the company logo and name. Out of three options, 76 percent voters selected the original logo and name Ufone.
The first management or the pioneers, headed by Arshad Khan, worked hard to make this a success story. It gained success in a short span of time when people queued up to get connections then. It was considered to be one of the most popular mobile connection brands in those days.
During the first three-and-a-half-years, the company sold about one million connections, expanded its network through out the country without compromising on quality. Ufone became a solid brand in the market and a household name.
After this success, a new management was introduced this year when Arshad Khan resigned as Chairman and president. Shahzad Sadan wore his abandoned shoes as an interim head. He made some positive changes, and took to task those who were found guilty of any irregularity. For instance, he fined Nortel Networks Rs 470 million due to low quality equipment. Then PTCL's chairman Junaid I. Khan appointed his old buddy Babar A. Khan as the president. They both were in Mobilink a few years back.
Babar, after assuming the office of the president Ufone, made life difficult of all capable people, who had made Ufone a success. They had to leave one after the other. Like, the marketing department, engineering set-up, customer care centre, sales and government relations departments quit, and they were replaced by his own men, who were paid steep pays. It is interesting to note that they all had bad reputation in the market, and no company was ready to recruit them. In Ufone, they got the highest ever salaries of their careers, and perks, which they did not deserve, and never dreamt of. The difference was more than 400 percent in certain cases. General Manager Marketing, Director operations, Brand Manager Marketing and Director Customer Care were hired without fulfilling the basic requirements outlined to hire a government official. It was a gross violation of the rules.
The present management planned to give a boost to the company (read: how to destroy a profitable venture) and introduced drastic and futile schemes. The first devastating scheme was providing about three lacs free connections. This was done without doing the spadework, that is, without network expansion, which adversely affected the connectivity and service; thus Ufone earned bad reputation among masses because of recklessness of a few. Now the situation is that one cannot get connected even after multiple attempts. Users suffered because of extra charges, which were incurred because of repeated call drops. In the same context, this management paid the government–according to a constrained estimate as told by a source seeking anonymity–connection activation tax amount of Rs 30 crore. Apart from this, millions were wasted on the advertisement of this failed scheme. No body asked them and they were never made accountable for this unjustified scheme ending in a big fiasco.
Secondly, still unsatisfactory with the 'earning', the management launched another scheme. They changed the logo, which was approved by 76 percent (out of those who participated) public votes, without giving due consideration to the masses. This was done in an abrupt manner, which is a perfect example of a fruitless overnight change, by spending millions of rupees on various unnecessary heads. Only on the advertisement, about Rs four crore were wasted. For a single TV commercial–a complete copy of Reliance India–millions of rupees were given to advertising agencies, which are believed to be closely connected with the men sitting at the helm of affairs. On the other hand, billboards spaces were purchased at inflated prices, which were far higher than the actual market rates.
An unnecessary logo change was made without any justification. Remember! Logo is changed because of three pre-conditions, that is, when quality is suffering; when the logo is really out of fashion, and when a new product is to be launched. Look at the example of taking to task of foreign companies because of this reason. What was the need for the logo change? There was no exigency. Secondly, it was done in a total disregard of the public opinion, which approved the first logo and name.
Interestingly, the profile of Ufone is drastically dropping with every passing day, but new appointments are being made at very high pays and on personal connection or interests bases.
There is an urgent need to look into the dirty affairs of the present management. If they are allowed to keep on working like this, this once-a-success story will be the worst example of failure. The federal minister for Information and Technology Mr. Awais Leghari should immediately step-in and stop this game of whims and wishes. He should be helpful in saving this national asset.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If Ufone is like this, then what the hell the government is doing?
Every public sector of the country is suffering from serious ailments. Instead of treating them, people sitting at the helm of affairs are providing more 'conducive environment'for further deterioration.
Ask them to wake up and do some thing for this country before it is too late.