While once mostly limited to retailers, special promotional offers are now widely employed by Swiss mobile service providers as well. Consumers recovering from holiday spending can take advantage of promotional offers to cut their telecom expenses.
But beware: There are huge differences between promotional offers, and depending on your telecom needs, there may be standard offers which are more suitable than mobile plans offered as special promotions.
Ralf Beyeler, telecom expert at independent online comparison service moneyland.ch, collected and analyzed data on promotional offers from Swiss mobile service providers between August 1 and December 31, 2019. A total of 198 promotional offers were analyzed. The analysis accounts for promotional offers for mobile plans and prepaid mobile offers, but does not account for promotional offers for smartphones or for phone-and-plan bundles.
Salt has the most promotional offers
Over the observation period, Salt ran the most special promotions (69 in total), followed by the Sunrise budget brand Yallo (66 promotions). Lebara – another Sunrise brand – came in third with 29 promotions. Sunrise ran 15 promotions. All other mobile service providers ran few or no special promotional offers. While Salt, Yallo and Lebara ran numerous special promotions, most of these promotions ran for short periods of time.
Information about the prices at which plans were offered by different service providers as part of special promotions is interesting. This is especially true in the case of Salt. “Salt’s marketing strategy with regard to promotional offers resembles a bazar. The same mobile plan is offered at many different price levels in different promotional offers,” observes moneyland.ch telecom expert Ralf Beyeler.
Same plan – six different promotional prices
Over the 5-month observation period, Salt ran ten different promotions for its Europe mobile plan. In these promotional offers, the Europe plan was offered at six different prices ranging between 40 and 69.95 Swiss francs. Over the 24-month contract term, users would pay a total of 960 francs for the plan using the most favorable promotional offer, and 1678.80 francs using the least favorable promotional offer. Users who sign up for the plan at its standard price would pay 2158.80 francs over the contract term. Salt employs the same marketing strategy for its other mobile plans.
“That the same mobile plan would be offered at six different prices within five months is noteworthy,” says Ralf Beyeler. His advice to consumers: “Take time to double-check and compare promotional offers. You can expect discounts of at least 50% off the standard price with Promotional offers from Swiss telecom service providers like Salt, Yallo and UPC. If a promotional offer doesn’t cut 50% off the standard price, it can be worth it to wait for the next special promotion. There is a high probability that you will get the same plan for a lower price,” explains Ralf Beyeler.
Yallo and Lebara – up to three different promotional prices
While Salt uses many different promotional prices for the same mobile plan, Yallo employs a different strategy. Yallo’s promotional offers typically discount its mobile plans by 50%. However, there were 3 plans which Yallo offered at different prices with different promotional offers. For example, the swiss flat plan which has a standard fee of 58 francs per month was offered for 22, 25 and 29 francs with different promotional offers.
Lebara used 2 to 3 different prices for plans in its promotional offers. Its Europe Plus plan was offered for 35, 39 and 49 francs per month with different promotions. The standard fee is 69 francs per month.
Short-term promotions from Salt, Yallo and Lebara
Some service providers like Salt, Yallo and Lebara use a strategy by which they only run special promotions for very short periods of time. Sometimes they extend the time over which promotions run. UPC is a prime example. It continued to extend a special promotion, while embedding short-term countdowns on its website to give the impression that the promotion would soon expire.
Discounts from M-Budget mobile, Coop Mobile and Wingo
Swisscom runs long-term promotional offers through its M-Budget, Coop Mobile and Wingo subsidiaries. The long terms over which promotions run result in these service providers running fewer promotions in total, but the promotions run for longer. For example, M-Budget ran special promotions for two different mobile plans from September until November 11, 2019.
But the promotions run by M-Budget and Coop Mobile over the observation period only delivered a 10-franc discount – or between 26% and 34% off standard prices. Wingo’s special promotions delivered discounts of up to 30 francs per month or 55% off standard pricing, depending on telecom use.
Which provider offers the biggest discount?
The moneyland.ch analysis revealed the average discounts provided by 12 mobile service providers which ran at least one special promotion over the observation period (take a look at the graph of average discounts here).
Digitec’s special promotions offered the highest average discount at 69.4%. Wingo offered an average discount of 54.5%. However, it is important to note that the highest discounts from Digitec and Wingo only applied to plans for heavy phone users. Yallo had an average discount of 50.4%, Sunrise had an average discount of 41.5%, and Salt had an average discount of 38.5%. M-Budget Mobile and Coop Mobile both had average discounts of 30%.
Promotions with the biggest discounts
The analysis also reveals the largest discount offered by each mobile service provider (view the maximum-discount graph here). The biggest discount offered over the observation period was a 79.6% discount delivered by a Digitec special promotion. Salt, Sunrise and Yallo offered discounts of more than 60% off standard prices as part of special promotions.
The most favorable promotion sold out fast
The most favorable promotional offer across the observation period was offered by Digitec in December 2019. For a 120-franc flat fee, subscribers could make unlimited local phone calls and use unlimited local data in Switzerland for a whole year. That flat fee – which equates to 10 francs per month – was the most affordable flat fee for those services to be offered in Switzerland so far. The problem: The limited offer was soon sold out.
The most affordable promotional flat-fee offer which was available to consumers for at least one full day was an annual plan from Digitec with a 240-franc annual fee (equivalent to 20 francs per month). Yallo offered unlimited local phone calls and data for 22 francs per month.
Pay attention to possible catches
In many cases, the discounts provided with special promotions only apply for a limited amount of time – for 12 to 24 months, for example. After that period, the standard pricing applies. In many cases, subscribers are required to sign up for contracts with long minimum contract terms – such as 12-month or 24-month terms.
The promotional offers from Yallo come with relatively favorable conditions. Yallo contracts do not normally have minimum contract terms, and the discounts provided by special promotions generally apply over the life of the plan. “Contracts without minimum contract and discount terms are customer friendly,” explains Ralf Beyeler from moneyland.ch.
Compare special promotions with standard offers
In many cases, mobile plans and prepaid mobile offers with standard pricing are the most affordable options for many users. In other words, the most heavily discounted special promotional offers are not necessarily the cheapest option. Comparing promotions with standard offers based on your specific needs is important.
“Plans which have high standard fees, in particular, often do not make financial sense for many mobile users even when they are heavily discounted. These plans generally include many specialized features like call and data roaming, and do not make financial sense for consumers who rarely travel abroad,” says Ralf Beyeler.
“As a general rule, regularly comparing mobile plans using the comprehensive mobile plan and prepaid offer comparison on moneyland.ch is recommended,” suggests Beyeler. The comparison accounts for all relevant one-time and recurring promotions. Data is updated on a daily basis. The comparison also includes detailed information about special promotions – such as the length of time over which the discount applies and minimum contract terms.
In addition to promotions which discount fees, there are also promotions which extend mobile data allowances or discount the cost of the SIM card for new subscribers.