Egerton Chang, Contributor
Having flawlessly performed the iconic Bridge Over Troubled Waters the night before and shooting to the top of iTunes Top 100 downloads, Tessanne Chin propelled herself to be the first of three finalists selected on the 'Voice' elimination show last Tuesday night, as I predicted.
But first, I have to deal with Digicel.
On Thanksgiving Day, November 28, I went on my Digicel phone and following that experience felt compelled to pen a letter to the editor ('Incensed at Digicel's 400% increase') which was published the following Saturday, November 30. It reads thus:
On Thursday morning, Thanksgiving Day, I sent my daughter $100 credit from my Digicel phone and was notified that $5 was deducted from my balance.
At first, I thought it was a mistake. I sent another credit for $30 and $5 was again deducted. I decided to text '128' to '137' and was incensed to see it in print. Effective November 28, 2013, the charge for crediting a Digicel prepaid cell would be increased to $5.
Now, it was only last year that the charge was $1. Then it was increased to $3. And now to $5. That's a 400 per cent increase in less than two years.
To be fair, perhaps my indignation should be directed at the Government. You see, maybe this increase is because of an additional tax. On the other hand, the '137' text did not state that.
I am positive that more than 90 per cent of such 'Credit U' transfers are for under $50, which means that Digicel deducts a minimum of 10 per cent for each such transfer. That's almost usury. In truth, it is past usury. It is mercenary.
And what if the 'Credit U' was for the minimum allowed of $15, which I am sure that a significant portion are, that means that the charge would be one-third, or 33.3 per cent. That's bordering on criminal.
You may form the impression that I am incensed and mad. I am.
And while I am at it, what's with the double credit and triple credit that cannot be used off. I challenge anyone to show me in which practical way they could be.
Yeah, man, happy Thanksgiving indeed.
This letter received 11 comments. Apparently, it also went mini-viral on the Internet as readers sought to Facebook it to their friends because the matter was so topical. All save one of the comments agreed with me.
A representative of Digicel did contact me shortly thereafter. She said that Digicel's costs had skyrocketed, particularly their foreign ones, and this was just one of the methods it had implemented to help offset them. I reiterated that a 400% increase over so short a time was almost criminal. I restated that for the small customer, the surcharge was horrendous, ranging up to 33.3%.
It must be remembered that these credits are already bought and paid for, and credited to Digicel phones. They are being transferred to be used on Digicel's network. Not some other network.
I said even if the increase was directed at the bigger 'Credit U' users, like those over $100, that would be bad but not so bad. She told me Digicel had considered that dichotomy but decided against it. Now, the fact that they had considered it but still decided NOT to implement it indicates to me a conscious effort to soak the 'likkle man', who I maintain make 90% of such transfers.
She said she did not agree with those percentages but did not have the actual figures at hand. I invited her to "surprise yourself" and ascertain them. She has since texted, "Regarding your query about customers who use Credit U, please note that our customers send Credit U from as low as $15 and up to $3,000 on a day-to-day basis. We are unable to provide the breakdown of customers at each level of credit sent."
For a company that is so intensely computer based, I find that hard to believe. On what basis, then, was the decision taken NOT to grant a lower charge for Credit U's $100 and under? What do you believe?
TO BE FAIR
I think it is only fair to point out that I remain a customer of Digicel. Further, I believe that Jamaica has to be thankful for the entry of Digicel into the telecommunications market. For if Cable and Wireless, now LIME, was still the only company, we might not have seen the vast technological advances since.
In addition, I am not an economist, but I believe that Digicel's entry has added quite a few percentage points to GDP over these years. But, is Digicel now developing the mindset of a monopoly, similar to LIME before it?
Tessanne Gone Clear
I had called for an iconic song choice in my article titled 'Tessanne needs an iconic song', published in The Gleaner on Monday, December 9, 2013. Quoting, "Yet, I feel that he is playing a dangerous game in continuing to select these reggae songs for Tessanne." Adam answered loudly with that Simon and Garfunkel classic that won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year and Song of the Year in 1971 and which sits at #46 in the Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Only three contestants made it to the top 10 iTune downloads, being Adam Champlin, Jacquie Lee and Tessanne, who topped the charts. With a multiplier of 5 for these three, it was virtually impossible for the other two, James Wolpert and Cole Vosbury, to survive.
Now it is left for Team Adam to find another iconic classic.
POWER OF LOVE
I, myself, and a number of my readers have suggested The Power of Love by Jennifer Rush, which held on to #1 for 10 weeks in the UK and which is rated at #39 on Everyhit.com all time list for that country.
The cover by CÚline Dion performed even better, topping the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks, the first CÚline Dion single to do so. This song was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and an American Music Award for Pop/Rock Single in 1995.
With her personality shining through more and more each day, Tessanne has made herself more a winner. Supported by a number of positive interviews in print, on television and on the radio, she has enamoured herself to the US listening and viewing public. Perhaps, at this stage, it will not matter which song she sings. She will be the winner.
A poll conducted by mjsbigblog when there were six contestants left indicated as below:
Who should go home
In addition to being one of the favourites, Tessanne was polled as the last contestant that those surveyed wanted to send home. What gives credence to this poll is the fact that Matthew Schuler, who most said should go home, was indeed sent packing the following Tuesday. As indicated in the same poll, Wolpert was the first to go this week, followed by Vosbury. Will this poll be fully franked by Chin being victorious, followed by Champlin and Lee?
In my column 'Huge cost of migration; Ronstadt; and Tessanne' published Sunday, November 24, 2013, I wrote:
I am looking for her to make the finals and to win, but I am also mindful of a number of factors that might make this extremely difficult. Chief of which is being 'un'-American - meaning, not from America. And there is a lot of underlying bias against this.
Now it is just left to be seen if Tessanne will make my final prediction come to pass. I plan to go to a Tessanne victory party to celebrate on Tuesday, December 17, 2013. Where will you be heading?
Speaking of which, I was only just reintroduced to this popular party/hangout spot in the heart of the city. Countryside was massively popular in the late 1980s to early '90s. Located on Eastwood Park Road (opposite Burger King), with its entrance on Courtney Walsh Drive, it is set up to mimic an idyllic Jamaican countryside with charming eateries, quaint bars and live music. It even offers delectable pastries. It is the brainchild of Eddie Chai of racehorse and outdoor advertising repute.
Recently completely renovated, with its vibrant paintwork and relaxing landscape, including outdoor tables and benches, and its large secure parking area, Countryside is like an oasis to help you escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Check it out for all your parties, office or otherwise, Tessanne or otherwise. C'est la vie!
Egerton Chang is a businessman. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.