Ricardo Pantoja is an AT&T customer and for two and a half years he opted for the prepaid model. Monthly he pays 200 pesos to his cell phone with which he can access his social networks and the internet. Which is just what you need.
“The top-ups work well for me and I think I get the same benefits that a plan gives, the only difference is that with the top-ups you have to continue paying each month,” says the consumer. “I don’t encourage a plan because I don’t know if I’m going to have the money to continue paying for it,” he adds.
The prepaid model –or recharges– in the mobile telephony sector is beginning to gain strength in the country: 82.8% of Mexicans who have a telephone line prefer to recharge rather than adhere to a rate plan. Even people who currently have a plan seek to migrate to the prepaid model, according to data from The Ciu consultancy.
As of the fourth quarter of 2021, Telcel registered a 0.5% drop in the number of lines associated with rate plans. AT&T registered a decrease of 6.4%, while Telefónica grew 8%, according to financial reports of the companies. In contrast, Carlos Slim’s company increased the number of lines associated with a prepaid package by 4.3% in the same period, while AT&T registered an increase of 12.7%. Telefónica fell 6%.
Experts point out that the growing preference for refills in the Mexican market is due to inflation -which causes an increase in the prices of the basic basket and fuels-, but also to the lack of equipment due to the shortage of chips.
“Consumers have to redistribute their income accordingly and recharges are being used more because they provide greater flexibility. If people used to recharge 100 pesos, maybe now they will recharge 80 pesos,” said Rolando Alamilla, market research manager at The Ciu consultancy.
They prefer refills… but less than 200 pesos
Brenda Muñoz is a Telcel user. Each month you pay 150 pesos, with which you can access connectivity services for 28 days.
“Actually, refills offer me very good benefits and I have enough for what I need,” he says. The consumer explains that she has never thought of contracting a postpaid plan since for her they are very expensive and, having unstable income, she would not be able to adhere to a contract.
Marcos García runs a small business located in the Guerrero neighborhood of Mexico City where he sells chips, low-end phones and recharges. This year, he says, has seen a decrease in the frequency with which customers come to pay for airtime, and also in the amount of top-ups. Users now only recharge between 30 and 50 pesos and the frequency has dropped to 40%.
“User recharges have dropped around 40%, I think it has to do with the economy. There are people who recharge me for 10 and 20 pesos, but I hope that over time the sale will improve,” Marcos said.
Rosa María Sánchez is another AT&T user who recharges 150 pesos per month, but she assures that the data only lasts 15 days. For this reason, she has thought about migrating to a postpaid plan, however, the generalized rise in prices has stopped her until now.
“Maybe it is better for me to subscribe to a postpaid plan, what happens is that as the economic situation is, you have to pay for the home phone and mobile and it is a bit heavy. I could only pay up to 250 pesos for a plan”, said the user.
Postpaid… Between love and hate
María Magdalena Martínez is a Telcel user who has been paying 399 pesos a month for a postpaid plan for five years. It ensures that the price is compensated by the connectivity services it has and the repairs to which it is entitled in the event of any damage to its equipment.
The consumer assures that the economic crisis has not been, until now, a factor for her to think about deactivating her connectivity plan. “I already have five cell phones here, my grandson’s, my two children, my husband and I. We all have (hired a) plan,” he says.
But it is not the case of Fernando Solís who went to a Movistar Customer Service Center to cancel his postpaid plan, due to the rate increases he has had in recent months.
“Before it was cheaper and they gave me good megabytes, but now they have increased the price, arguing that (they are going to give us) more megabytes and they sent a notification that they are going to raise it again. I think I’m going to cancel it because of the increase in cost,” says Solís.
When he contracted his postpaid plan he paid 219 pesos and now he would have to pay 249 pesos. “I prefer that they give me fewer megabytes than paying more and the increase is not much, but as things are, I prefer to cancel and better recharge,” he warns.