The Truth About The Truth About Prepaid

Has anyone noticed the prepaid wars that have been going on?

Maxis Hotlink and Digi Prepaid and Celcom Xpax are having the most outrageous war I have ever witnessed. It is crazy. I can’t even go out of my house without seeing at least one Maxis or Digi or Celcom ad. At the rate their relentless ad campaigns are going, I’m probably gonna even start dreaming about them soon.

When telcos invade our dreams

Every one of the telcos is out there saying they’re the best. Everyone is saying they’re the cheapest among the rest. It’s like a noisy scene straight out from the pasar malam. “Don’t buy them lah, buy me!” they all scream, yelling one on top of the other.
The fight between our three mobile operators is becoming so intense, it made the Tyson vs Holyfield look like two playboy bunnies going at it with fluffy pink pillows.

Traditionally, Hotlink has always been the leader of the pack when it comes to prepaid.
The latest round of battles restarted when Hotlink launched their Total Plan. When it first came out, it was such an attractive package that prompted many prepaid customers to “Activate Hotlink”.
But the flaw though is that the multitude of different call rates to different operators in different states at different time of the day made it too complicated for the average consumer to comprehend.
Digi Prepaid was smart, and they capitalised on that by unveiling their One Low Flat Rate campaign – 38c/min to any network in any state. A lot of Hotlink’s customers dropped their 012 numbers and switched to 016. Needless to say, Maxis wasn’t too happy.

What a lot of customers don’t know or don’t care is that the 38c/min is only after you spent more than RM30 in a month.
Desperate to shed its stigma as the most expensive telco provider, Celcom Xpax emerged as the late entrant in this bitter war with a weapon of mass destruction of its own.
By attacking both Hotlink’s confusing call rates structure and Digi’s reluctance to announce that 38c/min is only after you have spent a certain amount, Xpax retaliated with their Guaranteed Lowest Prices For 5 Months campaign – 38c/min within the network to any state, without needing to spend a minimum amount.

Then, it gets interesting! Around this time someone came up with a supposedly “anonymous” website at, claiming to want to spread the truth about prepaid.

With its yellow background and singing of praises about Digi, it doesn’t take a Malaysian-astronaut-making-teh-tarik-in-space to work out exactly which telco is behind this.
A check on the site’s domain registry confirms the identity of the devil.

For a short while, Xpax returned the blow to Digi of its own with a website at (note the .my extension).
But the whole thing lasted for barely a month before it was shelved. I won’t be surprised if Digi tried to sue Celcom for copying their ideas. Then again, Celcom needs to copy other people’s ideas because they seems to always come up with the stupidest advertising strategy.

Like right now, they’re getting the England football players to promote their Celcom brand. But they can’t even afford to get those football players to pose with a proper phone for their ad!
Look at the phones these idiots are holding on the billboard…

Now, compare that to the phones they are holding on in the Celcom website.

What lah! Have to photoshop the phones in some more!
I think the most ridiculous thing about all these “truth” campaigns is how the telco operators so carefully avoid outright mentioning their rivals’ name, presumably due for legal reasons.
Xpax becomes “Telco X” and comes with a purple header; Hotlink becomes “Telco H” with a red header.

Wanna say Xpax, say Xpax lah! Say what “Telco X” somemore? Idiot!

To Blogger J and Blogger X: Just kidding only hor!

Right now, all eyes are on Hotlink, who has to this date refused to play with Digi and Celcom in their game of underhanded advertising tactics. The red prepaid company responded by slashing their call rates down to as low as 10 cents/min for Activ5 – the lowest call rate among all telcos.

It sucks that Hotlink’s call rates structure is still as complicated as ever. The average consumer probably wouldn’t even bother making the comparison. Which is why despite Hotlink’s lower prices, they’re unable to shift people’s long-time perception that Digi is cheaper, eventhough that may not always be the case.
But no matter how you look at it, the truth about the truth about prepaid is THIS.

Not one single prepaid plan can offer the cheapest rates across all the different scenarios.
Everybody’s usage pattern is different, and depending on what type of a user you are, one operator would turn out to be cheaper than the other. What works for one person, is not always gonna work for the next.
Hmm… maybe I should do review of each of these prepaid plans. That’ll put to rest once and for all which telco is the best.

I see all those telco operators all claiming to be heroes wanting to spread the truth, but then they twist the truths to make themselves look good.
At the end of the day, Maxis Hotlink, Digi Prepaid and Celcom Xpax are all just doing the same thing.
They say “Trust me, I am telling the truth.”
But then you ALL say you are telling the truth!
“Aiya! You should listen to me more, because my truth is more truthful than their truth!”

June Tan is a masters student at the University of Malaya currently doing research on Malaysian blogging attitude. She’s looking for bloggers and blog readers to do a short survey.
Let’s all help her complete her masters thesis with flying colours yea?

112 Replies to “The Truth About The Truth About Prepaid”

  1. oh my.. how did you get the pic with the sticker on a b*tt.. okay.. this competition would most likely benefit the consumers\us in the long run la huh..

  2. This is the same thing that is happening in Japan right now. 0 Yen for calls and mails by KDDI & Vodafone/Softbank. Only the small font size 1 fine print stating all the HORRBLE terms & conditions!
    Now everyone is confused.

  3. haha agreed. Stupid war. Many ppl forget about the SERVICE and COVERAGE.
    Started with one and never even bothered to think about switching to another. Happy with it. Switching is Such a waste of time.

  4. ah thanks for the info Kenny. i’ve stuck with digi for the last 6 years and almost decided to change. guess there is really no reason too atm.

  5. Kenny, these 3 telco companies might want to sue you too for telling YOUR TRUTH IS MORE TRUTHFUL THAN THEIR TRUTH. 😉

  6. .. for me.. here’s the scenario..
    Colleague and I sitting at the same area. I’m using Hotlink.. while my colleague is using Digi.
    My phone rang…. my colleague cursed.. damn! No line!
    So ah… whatever lower rate etc..etc.. yang mengconfusekan.. I go for the one with better coverage.

  7. The truth is the more you spend, the more these companies will gain profits from you guys. Just stay with your mobile line and spend wisely. There are skype and msn that allows you to communicate without a cost with the person you desired across the state, so why pay more?
    In this country, you have to stay with reality, that there are no such thing as cheap and free. These companies have talented marketers to grill out your money.

  8. .. as Zen said.. spend wisely.
    Don’t subscribe to those caller ringtone… buy those wallpaper or special ringtone…even to subscribe to those horroscope thing (like cheh! newspaper can’t read about horroscope meh?? – saje pay a few ringgit just for that to be in your phone?) etc..etc.. and play those chats on TV.. just to talk nonsense… and whatever so called contest that cost you $3 for 1 sms. Die la like that..send in a few entry and there goes all your credits.
    I’m using Hotlink and on average.. use $30 a month.. I dun make a lot of calls using it but sms most of the time. Unless if I’m travelling, I might need to use more credits. Been using it since Maxis started the prepaid thing .. .and don’t intend to change… the hassle of telling the whole world your number changed.. cheh! I still think 012 has got wider coverage.

  9. these prepaid services are dumb..
    let me suggest this marketing strategy
    1. give free registrations.
    2. give outrageously low price.
    3. set a standard price. no more confusing plans(ppl hate that). same price for everything.
    4. ppl are stupid, so exploit that. ppl like simple stuffs not confusing things.
    5. set the thing for some time like 6-12 months which is until their account for their old telco expire (cause they don’t reload for their old telco)
    6. set the biggest advertisement so everyone knows
    if everything goes smoothly, everyone will change to that telco and abandon their old telco. the most important thing is to get people to get your service first

  10. Here’s my experience with all this telco
    Currently own Maxis and Digi / Dad&mon using celcom
    Digi (very cheap) but terrible coverage & Customer service is fine too
    Maxis(Average pricing) Excellent coverage & customer support
    Celcom ( Cheap Pricing)
    Always having problem to call out and coverage is good in kampung because other telco didnt bother to go there & Customer support so terrible always put me on hold and keep passing call here and there.
    Conclusion i still stay with maxis because i love the coverage man even underground FULL BAR ! Got credit no signal = better off phone i online GPRS all thru north-south highway on msn didnt even disconnect.

  11. In America, you will always see rivals fighting and slapping each other on tv.
    For example, Pepsi will just stomp on Coke and destroy it saying it sucks. Miller Lite will push Bud Lite aside saying LOWER CARB, BETTER TASTE….they just focus on their main rival and straight away slap them in the face. It’s just unbelievable.
    By the way, I thought DIGI has more users in PREPAID while MAXIS rules the POSTPAID service. I’m pretty sure I read that somewhere, but probably 1 or 2 years ago.

  12. My only peeve with this is that it isn’t happening to the broadband industry.
    In that war they’d have to boost speed and effeciency, not rates.

  13. before aug 2006, average monthly expenditure on Digi prepaid for my dad and I: rm 120 / mth / 2 accounts
    after aug 2006 to today, average digi bill for both accounts: rm 200.
    my last bill for december: rm 400 (i kid u not!)
    postpaid is now getting more and more expensive.
    how to reduce cost?
    1. don’t use handphone ANYMORE.
    2. ring 016-2211800 constantly and challenge their billing system.
    3. chances are, there are rebates and errors they might have “accidentally” missed out.
    tip: bring a lot of coins this festive season… cuz chances are, you are gonna be barred!!

  14. Best entry.
    Kenny, you are saving Malaysia in a way.~ 🙂
    Maybe should tell us the “truth” about Streamyx as well. Haha..

  15. Singapore doesnt ve tat kind of war…
    we used to ve when our telco system juz opened up with M1 coming in.
    their advertisement was obviusly attacking each other. like e famous Red Vs Orange umbrella.

  16. Hotlink came out new strategy, have u notice the new advertisement? “RECEIVE CALL TO GET FREE SMS”. I dont think tat works…
    btw.. my opinion is .. each operator is just fighting to gain more customer. a silly suggestion but working ideas.. get 3 phone, get 3 line, u surely get the cheapest rate. Remember,make sure u call to the same telco using the same line. 🙂

  17. Eh…anyone ever had problem calling to a different telco no? Example like 016 to 012. But if u call from 016 to 016 or 012 to 012, there’s no prob.
    Is it because of the war? Hmm..

  18. Seriously, those ad campaigns is getting a bit irritating…turn on radio, prepaid ad, turn on tv, prepaid ad, turn on newspaper, prepaid ad…bah!

  19. very true, one more point thou.. the gov have been asking us to reg our prepaid number in advance to avoid our line being barred or cut.. many citizens did so, to avoid last minute long queue, to avoid our line being barred, BUT if you noticed, the day right after the deadline is up, there were so many ads by all 3 telcos in the papers, giving out the same promo…
    “Haven registered your number? Do so now! deadline extended till today only! get xxx smses free when you reg your number with u”
    wtf is that suppose to mean?? they give out free smses to ppl who are LATE in registering.. AFTER the deadline, thn what goes to those citizens who abide the rules, to reg BEFORE the deadline.. what do we get??

  20. the reason y in m’sia they can’t openly slag a competitor bcos of all the red tape in our society that don’t allow these kinda of war brands.
    my cm in dhl told US dis. over der, dhl n fedex r neck n neck in the industry n they always slag each other in the adverts n it’s quite entertaining cos when e.g. dhl slags fedex in one way, the next fedex advert will always b some sort of continuation to the advert for dhl. so it’s like a mini advert story with both parties slagging each other.
    i’ve seen the dhl adverts in US shown back here n it’s really entertaining but unfortunately due to all the red tape it’s not open for public viewing.
    my fav is the vacation advert but ders no way in me showing u guys w/o gettin into heaps o trouble. so if u’re in dhl environment u’d probably hv seen it too so u’ll know wat i mean (“,)

  21. it’s suppose to look like a cleavage, but somehow, the shape really looks like a butt. Maybe kenny stripped his 3 year old Jayden and put some beads and clothing on his ass and took a pic. That’s how Jayden got his chocolates

  22. My youth group went for a camp at an eco resort in Bentong recently. For the 4 days/3 nights we were there, every Hotlink user had no problem receiving calls/text messages, unlike those in our group who used Digi. And this also happened a few years ago at a camp at a different place.

  23. It’s time to get a gal, Kenny! Your sheets, pillow case and comforter DON’T match. Ewww…how can anyone sleep soundly knowing / seeing that!

  24. Me use Maxis. Don bother 2change cos they all almos the same & u wont save much costs by changin – even mor troublesome cos need to inform lots of parties of yr new number.
    By d way, tats cleavage-lah – never seen boobs meh?!

  25. Hmmm, i changed to maxis 75 bucks plan and it’s fine with me, nice call charges too.
    Used to use up to over 100 a month, when i changed to it i can’t even reach 70.
    Now that i’m married, and i don’t call my gf now wife on the phone anymore, i don’t even reach 20 bucks monthly on the phone. LOLZ i wonder what package i should change to now.

  26. Hmmm, i changed to maxis 75 bucks plan and it’s fine with me, nice call charges too.
    Used to use up to over 100 a month, when i changed to it i can’t even reach 70.
    Now that i’m married, and i don’t call my gf now wife on the phone anymore, i don’t even reach 20 bucks monthly on the phone. LOLZ i wonder what package i should change to now.

  27. honestly, why do you get a phone? if the answer is to always be in touch with your friends and family wherever they are… then my fren, price IS NOT the only factor.
    Imagine this:
    – Telco D: damn cheap… but at times of emergency… 0 bar… so what’s the point of it being cheap?
    And of couse, if you’re a mobile users, at times u sememang-nya have to call their customer service for help…
    Imagine this:
    – Telco C: damn cheap… but if you got problem… u need to spend DAYSSS calling the customer service… so how?
    So hor, from my experience as a user of telco H for the past 6 years – this is the one that comes with the full package… no wonder they call themselves TOTAL PLAN cos they have the best coverage, best rewards and best pricing (50% off you know). Somemore now we also get reward points for ANSWERING calls – now tell me – who can beat that?
    So hor, if you think price is the only factor, suggest you go n rear a few pigeons… why? Attached a memo to their tiny legs and let them fly to whoever you intend to communicate to la… LAGI cheap ma… or better still go n get an OWL (like Harry Potter). Dumbass.

  28. lol…. the same thing is going on with hypermarkets- Carrefour, Giant and Tesco.
    Mydin opening beside Giant in USJ also produced some funny advertisement (Mydin kept referring Giant as “the neighbour”) We might be seeing funnier fights in the future when Tesco opens up beside Mydin and Giant

  29. I just got myself one of the Digi simpacks, not knowing that the 38sens is only after spending $30/month. Darned shopkeeper. Well, at least it’s only for the time being. 🙂

  30. same thing there, my boss is using maxis all the while, last month he registered a digi number for the company to test the different between 012 and 016, the same rate ads of 016 got him actually because our job need outstation alot around semenlanjung malaysia
    things happen 1 week later, he cancaled the 016 and telling everyone around 016 has no coverage in a lots of places…
    so the conclusion after my boss case and the comment around… i think that maxis is the best one

  31. DiGi is the BEST. WTF, Hotlink can’t even have simple coverage from my hometown calling to outstation Penang. Seriously, no joke.

  32. Kenny, I am speechless !
    I have been using Maxis since 2000. Signed up their $138 plan in 2003 and locked in till now. Could have thought changing it to Digi after seeing a lower call rate but very difficult to announce to all my contacts + friends.
    Hope that we can have a phone that can support dual sim card and I can just convert Maxis 138 to prepaid.

  33. I felt Digi really have a problem with integrity, especially how they hide the truth about their charges. For that I have always boycott them. All of them telcos need to make a profit. if they reduce certain price here, they have to raise certain other charges elsewhere. one flat, low rate? definitely fishy. the only thing i like about digi is i thought they have great advertisement.

  34. a bit of technical info but i can’t guarantee its accuracy- not.a.physic.prodigy.
    anyway, the prefix number of telco supposedly refer to their wavelength or something. 012 has the shortest wavelength so supposedly easier for it to travel around crowded or enclosed area, which is why we still have coverage in lower level of a mall or in an elevator. it has its own disadvantage of course but i can’t remember. heard about this a long time ago.
    anybody can confirm this info?

  35. i am a Digi user.. Digi is really cheap but coverage is quite bad.. but its ok since i’m stay in a big city..
    I’m not a heavy user where i spend less RM30 in a month… Digi still consider the cheapest in term of service eg: it is free to active GPRS unlike Maxis have to extra charge RM10 to activate it…
    During my birthday i will get 50% reload bonus!!
    what i like with Digi is they always make new idea on their service such as Bubble Talk and Credit Transfer before the other 2 operator copy it..
    Yup… i heard 012/017 wavelength is also bad for human being.. just notice whenever your electronic good especially the speaker or monitor will sense it whenever a call/sms is receive.. It because they are using 900, not 1800..

  36. Regarding prepaid, despite all the complicated billing systems and competition, I think what worries me most is that the advertisments are somewhat misleading.
    Like you said about Digi’s 1 low flat rate but ONLY when you spend over rm30. And they don’t advertise the about the minimum amount you need to spend.
    No doubt, as consumers we need to be “konsumer bijak” and we should have read the manual yada yada yada. But exactly how many do? Plus, not like many users would actually monitor how much they spend.
    I too, am a ‘victim’ from this false advertisment. Recently bought a Hotlink prepaid, and only to find out the advertised rates apply to your Activ 5 and they need to be Maxis numbers. But on the cover they didn’t say that. What can one do?

  37. there is another rivalry. once KFC used an ad campaign calling themselves the chicken expert, followed by McD claim that even a chicken expert choose McD fried chicken. KFC retaliated with a credential of their experience in serving chicken and telling us not to accept other’s claim as chicken expert. anyone remember that? Kenny might have blog about that, I dun know- not a reader yet then.
    anyway, problem with KFC is not the recipe or promotion but poor quality control.

  38. My suggestion or advice is to stick with your existing prepaid providers instead of being swayed by competitors. why? Because at the end of the day, respective service providers will match the deal. Why bother with the hassle of changing your hand-phone number.

  39. I tot they had to share their transmitter soon … so whose ever punye coverage also the same laa … aiya fight for what?? And when you guys gonna give us some free talk time for each early top-up …

  40. digi big liar… cheap?
    yes maybe a little bit cheap after RM30 per month
    clever to digi stupid to their customer who didnt know anything

  41. Fark, it’s so sad that the telcos are focusing more on getting new customers rather than giving good services to existing/old customers. It’s always extra things given to the new customers while there’s nothing for the existing loyal customers. Fark them! And, prepaid nowadays seems like more cheaper thatn postpaid.. wtf? I should get a prepaid as well then.. The telco should focus on improving their service – coverage, innovation bla bla rather than slashing price only.

  42. that’s suppose to be some cleavage pic right? but i have a feeling that u were hanging a necklace on top of ur butt to makes it look so. if so, eww. 🙁
    if not, Ooo. 🙂

  43. whatever they are doing, all of them are being fucking stupid to think that all they need is to keep getting new subscribers.
    in the effort to keep getting new subs in, they forget to keep the old ones in.
    3G took YEARSSSSS to implement in msia and still weak. we had 3G fones longggg b4 coverage is here.
    all they are doing now are fattening the pockets of advertising agencies that dont come up with much new ideas anyways.
    i fucking hate maxis. u fucking die.

  44. found this.. lolx..
    Carry ur”Maxis” sim card together with you,when you’re DEAD!!!
    This is a true story of a young college
    gurl who past away last month, at
    shah alam. her name is Priya.she was
    hit by a lorry.
    i dont wanna mention the name of the
    college. She have a boy friend named
    Shankar. he stays in johor. both of
    them are true lovers. they always hang
    on the phone. u can never see her
    without her handphone.
    she spends 3/4 of the day talking with
    shankar. both of them used maxis.
    Priya’s family knows about their
    relationship. Shankar is very close
    with Priya’s family. (just imagine
    their love)
    Before she passed away she always told
    her frens
    “If I pass away please burn me with my
    she also said the same thing to her
    after her death, ppl cant carry her
    coffin. i was there. a lot of them
    tried to do so but still cant.
    everybody including me, had tried to
    carry the coffin, the result is still
    the same.
    Eventually, they called their
    neighbour, a “bomoh” from thailand
    (pak Darin), who is a fren of her
    father. he took a sit and started
    speaking to himself slowly. after a few
    minutes, he said
    “this gurl misses something here”.
    then her frens told Darin bout her
    intentions to burn her with her phone.
    He then opened the coffin and place
    her phone and SIM card inside the
    casket. after that they tried to carry
    the coffin. it could be moved and they
    carried it into the van easily. all of
    us were shocked. (can u feel the fear.
    i’m shaking at this moment)
    Priya’s parents didnt inform Shankar
    that Priya had passed away.
    (pity Shankar). after 2 weeks Shankar
    called Priya’s mom.
    Shankar :….”Atte, I’m coming home
    2day. cook something nice for me.
    dont tell Priya that i’m coming home
    2day. i wanna suprise her.”
    her mother replied…..”u come home
    first, i wanna tell u something
    very important.”
    after he came to shah alam, they told
    him the truth about Priya. Shankar
    thinks that they were playing a fool.
    he was laughing and said
    “dont try to fool me. tell Priya to
    come out. i have a gift for her. pls
    stop this nonsense”.
    then they show him the original death
    certificate to him. they gave him
    proof to make him believe.(Shankar
    started to sweat)
    he said… “its not true. we were spoke
    yesterday. she still calls me.
    Shankar was shaking. suddenly,
    shnakar’s phone rang.
    “see this is from Priya. see this…”
    he showed the phone to priya’s family.
    all of them told him to answer.he
    talked using the loudspeaker mode. all
    of them heard his conversation
    loud and clear. no cross lines, no
    humming. it is the actual voice of
    Priya & there is no way others could
    use her simcard since it is nailed
    inside the coffin
    they were so shocked and asked for pak
    darin’s help again. pak darin
    brought his master (Tok Chen) to solve
    this matter. he & Darin worked
    for 5 hours. than they discovered one
    tok Chen was sweating. his face was
    red .
    “i just cant believe this. it’s quite
    amazing” he said. ” i didn’t think that
    this could actually
    Oh My God! Maxis is the best line,ever.
    we can still keep in touch even
    when we’re dead!! Talk about
    coverage!!! Best coverage ever!!!
    where can i get the SIMpack?”
    Moral of the story………Maxis is the
    best lar ………

  45. Celcom is the best-lah. All those Hotlink and Digi users are ****ing *** stupid, they are conned long time also don’t know. Talking about coverage and cheap? NAH…..

  46. s0hp0h…. waaddefeqq?? u modified the setory heh… it should be “o0o… Celcom..” based on a popular celcom ad last last year~~ ahahaha.

  47. The whole prepaid war is so lame, I mean at least it has not affected me at all as a prepaid user myself. It’s really funny though to watch the whole desperate dramas between these desperate telco companies, or should I say the ad agencies behind the war.
    I wonder what the ad agencies representing these telco companies are thinking now, after such brilliant post. Total mindfucked I guess.
    Don’t hire me somemore la :s

  48. This was truly a great article in helping shed light onto things. Hopefully the ignorant people out there would be able to realize what is going on and figure who’s who in this war.

  49. You can’t mention the competitors name/brand directly in advertisements due to the advertising laws in Malaysia. Such law came up as it’s believed to be unethical.
    This is not so the case in the US and some other western countries though.

  50. man it’s stupid. i can’t even change from my hotlink talk plan to total plan. when i do it says, “sorry can’t change to this service now, thank you”. WTF. i havent changed plans since i bought the sim pack earlier this year (former post paid user who cant control limit) and have sufficient credit to be charged for converting or whatever.
    and peak hours are 10am – 12midnight. i thought it was 7am-7pm. nuts. what i realize as a former postpaid user is that calls are cheaper, like 0.15/min, but sms is like 0.05/sms for maxis. oh and that rm15 supp fee.

  51. Kenny, u really put in a lot of effort to present news and updates to your readers. Refreshing. I wish I could meet up with you, but I’m off from Kuching today. Keep it up!

  52. Hotlink’s currently running this promo of flat rate 36c/min to any telco anywhere anytime after RM30 of reloading. The shit is, since i’m using SMS plan, they charge me 45c/min to my activ5 numbers and I could change my SMS plan to neither Talk Plan nor Total Plan. Right now i don’t even bother making calls using hotlink service, as for now I’m currently using iTalk which is far more cheaper n reliable.

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