OPINION

Tag me a Price

March 18, 2010
Halima Khan

Nothing in life comes without a price attached to it not even life itself. Does anyone beg to differ? Then I suggest you need to go check with your parents how much giving you life cost them. However, I am doubtful if you are interested in that so here are some tags, which might be more relevant to your existence:

The first in this category has to be phone connections, from luxury, they have become a much desired and sought out need. In the last few years, we have become lucky with choices; from pink and blue Telenor tawk shawk to red Jazz to bright orange and green Ufone there is also the blue and white Zong. The telecommunication has become so increasingly aggressive recently that other than pricing strategy they have to be very creative with marketing too. Well no one is complaining about that for sure; after all, it is a delight to get to see ‘bootilicious’ models dancing to irritatingly catchy tunes.

The sim cards are widely available now and at affordable rates too. It does not come as a surprise that everyone has to have two or even three nowadays, especially with dual sim phone sets gaining popularity. Nonetheless, it is major good news that governments finally realized its responsibility and the NIC copy as a requirement to issue sims is being strictly followed. The standard sim rate has been 500 with either free credit or talk time or a limited number of sms or all three in some cases. The summers wavered the sim prices for instance Warid sims are available at Rs.150 only. Ufone is giving three sim options, two are priced at Rs.130 only, and one costs Rs.150 only. Zong is the only phone company offering a phone set and a sim combo deal under Rs.2000 only. However, no need to rush this offer is valid for limited period which doesn’t end.

Prepaid service gives us ample choice in selecting the billing system that suits our calling requirements. There is the one-second billing, the thirty seconds billing, and the regular one-minute billing. In addition, there is also per hour billing packages with all services charging approximately Rs. 5 per hour. However, most of these low call rates apply to the same network calls. This trend has changed recently with phone services becoming more consumers’ friendly than ever.

Phone is not just a communication gadget anymore it is a whole entertainment parcel. Voice quality and connectivity is very important for cellular service providers, but to keep pace in this cutthroat competition value added services are of keen significance as well. Mobile TV, radio, web browsing, chatting, song dedication, quizzes, games, competitions, lucky draws and so on and so forth. Viola, your very own Pandora box!

Be it lovers sighing their nights away or friends trying to catch up on lost time or socialites sniffing for the up and happening or employees trying to do their job cellular services have definitely proved bigger blessing than nuisance. Moreover, it is a relief to see this blessing becoming progressively more affordable.

At the end of the day it hardly matters what code proceeds your number till you have a mobile set in your hand to flash in people’s faces especially if you have a pair of car keys dangling in your other hand. Yes the ultimate dream that every prestigious member of ever generation thinks obligatory to pursue, and thank God, for economies of scale that it is not a too far off possibility. There is no limit to how much you can spend on shoes and bags, agreed? Unanimously, of course! Conversely, I insist there is no limit to how extravagant you can get with your car too. Sky is the limit with how luxurious technology can make your four-wheelers.

Honda is a beauty but undisputedly it is the most unaffordable beauty in the market especially for just starting-off youngsters. The Accord 2.4 I-VTEC is quoted at Rs. 3,599,000.00; there is no way in heaven or hell that I am adding only to that figure. That one is for recommending to your daddy especially if he can afford the ever-rising petrol prices. If you plan to pursue this extravaganza, you had better hurry since ‘the unit price is subject to change without notice & at the discretion of Honda Atlas Cars (Pakistan) Limited.’ Though I am sure the helpful salesperson will remind you that the price prevailing at the time delivery of the vehicle will be charged. The luckiest you can get at Honda showroom is at Rs. 985,000.00 and you just bought yourself a City (manual transmission).

The new Corolla that hit the market just this year has four models including Altis1.8 VVTI (AT) and 2OD Saloon diesels, all four supporting sunroof, and they fall between Rs. 1,600,000 and Rs. 1,800,000. Toyota has fairer economical cars to its credit as well; there is Cuore available between Rs. 400,000 and Rs. 500,000 only depending on which color and model you pick.

Suzuki is not far behind in sales and car quality. There is the good old Mehran, even though it’s a little old fashioned it’s as reliable as ever. Then there is also the Cultus, which goes slightly higher but is in keeping with evolving trends. It costs around Rs. 700,000 only. Alto is available at an affordable Rs. 500,000 approximately. Even the slightly luxurious Liana is priced averagely at Rs. 900,000 only. The sporty jeep is the Suzuki car to cross the Rs. 1, 000,000 mark and that too only slightly.

Most banks offer leasing opportunity nowadays at fairly easier terms, if none of the above fit your budget.

Whichever models of whichever brand you end up buying its essential to remember, that with great power of that key comes great responsibility. Being careful on the road is part of your civic sense just as carefully taking care of your car’s maintenance is. This is not just for your safety but also for everyone else’s. Like every other product, the handbook that comes with it is important. Go through the warranty manual and fully understand your consumer rights to avail the after sale services to your best advantage.

Oh a point of information please morally all cars should come without horns.

Well by now, we have painted the picture with the mobile and a set of car keys but   it’s not complete yet now is it? To be perfectly equipped for survival in this current age plastic money has become an important ingredient, cannot stress the importance enough so I will move on to what alternatives are available in the ‘sabzi mandi’. International banks have long realized how fruitful Pakistan is as a potentially very ripe sales base. The security threats are nothing compared to how rewarding the gullibility of people here can be. No offence in being an easy prey is there.

ABN now known as the Royal Bank of Scotland has been in the market for quite some time now. They are the only ones co branding their credit cards. There is the collaboration with Air blue which gets you free air travel when you mange to reach required reward points. Then there are also Ufone benefits of free talk time and line rent. HSBC has the standard silver, gold, and platinum credit cards. However the major incentive that using their card has is the more you use it in your shopping, traveling etc the more the bank saves for your child’s education. That is definitely a tempting reward point system. MCB bends more towards the debit card options so you get to spend only what you have. Hardly any fun eh! HBL follows the market trend with the green card and the gold card. The credit card acquiring process has no doubt simplified a great deal and the terms are more convenient with greater stress on wider opportunities for its users.

Most banks share the benefits they offer; also, there are more or less standard features. Even the credit card membership fees are as good as same with the option being Rs.2000/- and Rs.4000/-. However, the Platinum Card fee ranges from Rs. 5000/- to Rs.15, 000/- depending on what limit the bank has assigned you. The fringe benefits on credit cards are more or less regular as well with insurance given especially on travel and with discounts offered with redemption partners.

With wants and needs switching sides, fast price tags have taken a relative connotation; only you can decide what your budget accommodates. Nevertheless, there is definitely something for everyone now. Happy affording!

Halima Khan is a research associate at Pielle Vision, an international social development consultant group.Moreover Halima is a freelance writing and editing professional. She writes for many leading publications while also being associated withrespected online journals. As an academic she is currently working on the translation anthology of an early 19th century manuscript compilation on Islamic epic stories.
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