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Happy Prepaid: Joy for how long?

Happy says they are the prepaid mobile plan that's just nice. We say: barely

Happy says they are the prepaid mobile plan that’s just nice. We say: barely

Happy was launched sometime in December 2007 and it had created some buzz in the telco industry.

Who is this Happy? By now, most of you should have seen its multi coloured advertisements on TV, Internet and newspaper. While Happy is a part of DiGi, it tries to disassociates itself from the big yellow where its advertisements and promotional materials do not carry the DiGi brand. Even their sales channel are limited to their website and selected Giant hypermarkets. We’re wondering why they are not making use of DiGi’s already established dealer channels nationwide.

It is only after you looked closely, you will know that Happy comes from DiGi. In fact, Morten Lundal, the former CEO of DiGi said that Happy is formed by a rebel group in DiGi’s headquarters itself.

The next question is why did they create Happy when DiGi is already a strong prepaid-centric brand? It could be possible that Happy is a limited time experiment by DiGi. In an event where the outcome is not desirable, they could easily pull the plug on Happy without affecting DiGi as a whole.

So what’s the deal with Happy?

The Happy Details

1 sen per second to all networks (per second billing)

    A first in Malaysia, Happy offers per second billing with 1sen/sec. While other celco usually charge based on 30-second blocks, Happy uses a more accurate billing structure where it calculates down to the exact call duration in seconds. This would mean, you’ll only need to pay exactly what you use, not the minimum billing block imposed by others. Best of all, it is the same rate to all networks nationwide at any time.

Calls are capped at 99sen. (Maximum of 45 minutes per call)

    A big surprise from Happy is that 99sen is the maximum you pay for a single call. Each call you make however is limited to a maximum of 45 minutes where it will be automatically disconnected. If you want to talk longer then 45 minutes, just call back the person you were talking to and talk for another 45 minutes. With Happy rates, this would translate to only 2.2sen/min for a 45 minute call. That can be considered as the cheapest rate in the country!
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10 sen per SMS to all networks

    Send SMS nationwide regardless of networks for just a one cheap rate of 10sen.

60 days credit validity regardless of top up amount

    Top up more to stay on more? Not anymore. With Happy any credit from a minimum of RM5 will give you 60 days credit validity. To stay active for a full year, one would only need to top up RM5 every 2 months (approx 60 days) x 6 times which is only RM30 per year. With the same amount on other prepaids, you’d get around a month validity. This makes Happy the lowest prepaid to maintain in terms of top-up.

So far so good, but there must be a catch right?
You bet your happy faces there is!

The Not so Happy Details

60 sen per minute

    Let’s not kid ourselves. How often do we make 45 minute calls? Most calls made on a daily basis are quite short, ranging from few seconds to few minutes. At the rate of 1sen/sec, this is equivalent to 60sen/min compared to other prepaids offering around 30-50sen/min. To enjoy say 30sen/min or cheaper from Happy, you’d have to talk for over 3 minutes (3 minute 18 seconds to be exact). In short, if you often make short calls, Happy would be expensive, much more expensive.

Expensive data

    Data activation costs RM2 which is reasonable enough but the data charge is too expensive considering its just running on EDGE. On Happy the data rate is charged at 50sen/10KB, when others charge around 10sen/KB . That means on Happy you pay RM50 per MB! You’re better off surfing at a cyber cafe plus Happy’s data service is not even 3G!

Customer service comes with a price

    RM2 to be exact. This part is really baffling to me, while others offer free customer service or charge calls to CS at normal call rate, Happy charges RM2/call to calling customer service! In addition, the customer service hotline at 014-3333800 is open from 8AM-8PM from Mon-Sat only. This is not going to make anyone happy, especially to a user who really needs customer support assistance at a critical time.Also, have you noticed that Happy does not have any physical customer service outlets that you can walk-in to? And, DiGi Service Centres will not service customers who are on Happy (which is really weird considering Happy is loosely linked to DiGi). This means if you have any issues that you can’t solve, the RM2 hotline is the only immediate channel.
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DiGi credit transfer accepted but no validity extension

    What this means is that you can use DiGi top-ups to replenish credits in your Happy prepaid account. The good thing: Happy accepts credit transfers from existing DiGi customers for added credit. The bad: such credit transfer does NOT increase your validity credit. To increase validity, you would need to get a Happy top up instead.

Short inactive period before line termination

    While most prepaid has a minimum 30 days inactive period before being terminated, a Happy prepaid will be terminated after 7 days of inactive period. That means 7 days after your credit validity expires your line is gone! You lose your number and everything. This is quite risky if one has forgotten to top up on time.

Premium rates to call 1300/1800 etc.

    Calls to 1300/1800 numbers are charged at RM1/minute. Directory assistance 103 is charged at a whooping RM2/minute! We wonder what is the rational for charging premium for assistance. With Happy its expensive to get assistance. Its cheaper to call your friend and get him to call assistance for you.At least you can be thankful that calls to emergency services like 999 are still free.

Thoughts of Happy
While being the new prepaid player in the market, we won’t recommend you from making the switch just yet. The Happy deal may look cheap on the surface but with a call rate of 60sen/minute for short calls, it can be considered as one of the most expensive prepaid plans in the market for short callers.

At the same time, we do not view Happy as a direct prepaid competitor but instead a 2nd SIM card. It’s perfect for those love birds who talk for hours on end about nothing or those who regularly make calls over 3 minutes. As we mentioned before, talking the full 45min stretch will cost you a paltry 2.2sen/minute. This is way cheaper than any prepaid rate we know of in the country (including whatever friends and family or Active10 rate). In fact, we think that this would be the biggest threat to calling cards such as iTalk or RingRing card for domestic calls.

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The top up validity of 60 days regardless of amount is a plus point for those who rarely use up their credits. As mentioned earlier, on Happy, you only need a minimum of RM30 top up just to keep your line active for a full year, again the cheapest of any prepaid plan by far. A word of caution though, the trade off is the shorter 7 days inactive period before your line is terminated and you loose your Happy number.

Bottom line, whether it is applicable to you depends greatly on your call usage and whether you call customer service and directory services often.

If you make long calls, never call customer service or directory services and don’t mind the fact that there’s no proper store you can walk in to to get Happy then perhaps this Happy plan is for you.

So how long will Happy stay? It is still unclear on the future direction of this new celco. With DiGi being able to get its hands on a 3G license, its interesting to see how Happy can benefit.