Dirty methods in a competition for subscriber


Reviews (negative campaigning and PR)

Most frequently bad reviews about a competitor and good about oneself are not written by subscribers. As a rule, they appear on dealer sites (sometimes those sites belong to a competitor) and get into the top of search results for the query “connect the Internet to the address”. Often subscribers read reviews before changing providers. And even if everything is usually okay, a one-time accident may induce them to visit such a site, and “public opinion” may prompt for a change of an operator. Reviews like that may also appear in groups of residents of a house or an area in social networks.

How to resist:

1. Make a list of resources where negative reviews regarding your company may appear, and regularly monitor them. If a negative review appears - respond. Usually it is enough to ask the contract number and offer the master’s outcall. Communicate with your subscribers at least once every three months, so that they always feel being cared about and estimate your service.

2. Prepare scripts for working out bad reviews while retaining your subscribers or taking away from a competitor.

Competitor Base Processing

The base can be stolen, but more often disloyal employees provide it, sometimes for money. No less often the competitor receives information about the subscribers of the operator due to the fact that it was transferred free of charge by the command of the owner or head of the company to private business consultants, coaches, call centres and so on. If you do not react to this in any way, then 10-30% of the base can migrate to a competitor. To make this happen he will develop a special price offer and speech scripts, which will be used to influence and take away subscribers.

How to resist:

1. Control access to customer data. Limit upload rights, allow access to the CRM-system (Customer Relationship Management System) only from work computers, do not display information that is not necessary for the employee to work.

2. Do not transfer your base to third parties and do not give them access to it. If such a situation does arise, try to ensure that all manipulations with your base are carried out in the presence and under the control of your employee. I may assure you that any third party / company under any circumstances does not need your base, if he honestly wants and can help you, and transferring it, at least, is risky.

3. Communicate with your subscribers at least once every three months in order to understand in time that your customers are attempted to be taken away by a competitor and have time to respond.

Misinformation or deliberate deception

Usually this technique is not used in leaflets and other information carriers where information can be recorded as it is an explicit lie. As a rule, subscribers are deceived and misinformed by talks on the phone or in person during apartment bypass and meetings.

Examples of misinformation (interpretation may vary, but the essence remains):

1. “Planned replacement of equipment and cables with modern equipment according to the city program. Don’t worry, everything is free”.

2. “In your house everyone complains about [the name of the blackened provider). It was told that speed drops in the evenings, it's expensive, you can’t get through to tech support and so on. Therefore, first of all, we plan to transfer the residents of your house to the modern Internet. Scheduled switching will last until [date] and is completely free. After [date], the cost of connection will be one hundred thousand million”. They may also ask to sign in the familiarization and refusal form for intimidation in case of refusal.

3. Long-term special offer (from 3 months) is sold as a regular tariff to entice.

4. Keep back or hide the cost of equipment, promising it as a gift (and the price is included in the tariff), or conditions for additional obligations - penalties for shutting down prematurely and so on. Say that to terminate the contract you need to go to the office which is located in an uncomfortable place and works on a schedule that is inconvenient for the most subscribers, and much more. Hidden conditions are written in small font, usually not even in the contract but on the operator’s website. Moreover, in the contract itself it may be written that the remaining important information is presented on the site. And the subscriber, having put a signature, supposedly found everything himself, studied it, agreed with everything and in the future he obliges to familiarize himself with everything on an ongoing basis, as well as to put on a hat in cold weather. I have been caught like that once as well: the decent and responsive provider withdrew money on the conditions specified in a specially designated place for secret conditions on the website.

How to resist:

1. Study the activities of a competitor constantly and report on his dishonest work. Inform clients who have found themselves under hidden conditions, how to terminate the contract, educate your current and future customers so that they do not fall into fraudulent schemes.

2. Create scripts to work out this type of objection while holding your subscribers.


Working with competitor’s ads

It’s easy to get a competitor’s advertising materials or even print it yourself. Afterwards these leaflets and flyers are placed in inappropriate places. For example, they are glued to the doors of apartments, as well as the windows and walls. Moreover, glue or adhesive tape with increased stickiness which spoils the surface is used for this. They can be also placed on the information stand of the HOA, so that the stand must be changed or repaired. Sometimes those ads are simply scattered everywhere like garbage. The purpose of these actions is to ensure that residents and the Criminal Code prohibit the presence of such an operator in the house.

It also happens that a competitor will replace your ad with the same but with his own phone number. In this case, the number will be similar, so that the replacement is not immediately evident. As a result, potential and current subscribers will call the competitor.

How to resist:

1. Put additional marking on advertising materials.

2. Use different phone numbers for leaflets that are distributed in areas or city streets. Use different numbers for city districts / streets.

3. Monitor the placement and availability of advertising on your territory at least twice a week.

Mole in the company

Particularly greedy or disloyal (especially quick-tempered) employees with a lack of life experience are ready to work for a competitor being part of your staff. If there is an application that is more profitable to connect via competitor, the competitor but not you will get it through such an employee. They can also reconnect existing subscribers under other names to promotional tariffs. Companies themselves can lure employees from a competitor and promise them a bright future.

How to resist:

1. Control and an adequate system of remuneration based on your market.

2. Do not work with impulsive and vengeful employees.

Training of subscribers on how to use services for free

This scheme is usually used by operators without cable television services. It works like that. The operator offers the subscriber to switch to his services and promises the opportunity to use cable TV for free. But the subscriber must write an application to disconnect this service from his current operator. When the service is turned off, the subscriber needs to inform the operator about this, after that a bundler will come and reconnect the cable in the fuse box. It often happens that cable operators are simply lazy and do not disconnect subscribers who wrote the application.

It is almost impossible to do so with IPTV. I have encountered cases of negligence or intentional fraud from employees of large operators who do not encrypt (do not use a conditional access system) their channels or do not monitor what is happening with subscriber accounts. For example, I saw with my own eyes how about 1000 devices were connected on one subscription board.

How to resist:

1. Regular monitoring.

2. Meeting the requirements, norms and rules of work.


Cable cutting, equipment damage

Usually cables are cut, thieves are induced, or simply the equipment, which is not properly protected, is damaged. Some subscribers will immediately begin to look for a new operator in the house, the rest in a couple of days or a week they will be started to influence with calls, apartments bypasses, and so on.

How to resist:

1. Regular monitoring of equipment.

2. Meeting the requirements, norms and rules of work.

Spam attack

The operator can buy several SIM cards and implement call forwarding to the numbers of the subscription department or technical support of a competitor. Afterwards, on websites like “Amazon” or “Ebay” (“Avito” and “Yula” in Russia) information on the sale of some popular goods, but at a price much lower than the market one is posted. The advert indicates the numbers of previously purchased SIM cards. A result - a competitor's call centre is paralyzed and cannot work proerly.

How to resist:

1. Develop scripts which will help the operator to find out quickly what number the client is contacting, from which source, for which services. You also need to know the script or algorithm for blocking the false number on this source.

2. Availability of spare numbers and timely change of service numbers.

3. Use different numbers for various services, city districts, streets.

DDoS attack

For a DDoS attack a botnet network is usually created by hacking through known vulnerabilities of user equipment: personal computers, game consoles, set-top boxes, etc. Then the power of the botnet network can be directed through command centres towards another operator or resource. The attacker loads the resources of the system, sending 100-500 thousand packets per second. If the threshold of not confirmed client SYN requests is exceeded, the protection using the example of "SCAT" or its analogue instead of the protected site responds to SYN requests and organizes a TCP session after the client confirms the request. In most cases, if the network core is assembled correctly, it can withstand DDoS attacks of tens of gigabytes per second.

How to resist:

1. The operator’s task is to prevent a flood epidemy (a type of attack when a large number of meaningless or incorrectly formatted requests are sent to a computer system or network equipment) on his network. For instance, a mini-Firewall option of the “SCAT” platform will cope with this, which will restrict access to TCP service ports (up to 1024) from the outside. If the client already has a flood, then you need to limit access to outgoing ports.

2. To protect simpler aggregation and access equipment, additional tools are required - firewalls, DPI, proxies, saving the network from switch failure. The DDoS protection option handles this task. The operator’s network is protected from DDoS attacks by TCP SYN Flood and Fragmented UDP Flood methods. During an attack with short fragmented UDP packets, to analyse which the attacked system spends additional resources, “SKAT” discards or severely restricts protocols that are not relevant for the site.

You need to be aware of mentioned above and be prepared to work with it.