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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 January 2006, 15:09 GMT
3 to pay people to talk and text
Man with sign reading 'Call me'
Will customers be drumming up business for 3?
UK mobile firm 3 has come up with a novel way of attracting customers, offering to pay them for all the calls and texts they receive.

Its WePay scheme offers to reward pay-as-you-go customers with a cash credit of 5p for every minute of a voice call and 2p for every text.

There is a catch for anyone hoping to get rich quick via the new scheme.

Any money made can only be redeemed via a voucher which has to be used to purchase further services from 3.

The operator estimates customers could make up to 40 a year if they sign up for the loyalty scheme.

"There are loyalty schemes already in the mobile market but they are about getting people to spend more in order to get more, whereas this is awarding people for normal usage," said 3's marketing director Graeme Oxby.

New customers

The pay-as-you-go market is notoriously complex and has created a new breed of bargain hunters, dubbed tariff-maticians.

Such users, often youngsters aged between 16 and 24 years old, monitor the mobile market place to ensure they take advantage of the best deals. People keen to exploit all the bargains on offer from the various mobile firms are signing up to a variety of networks and tariffs.

According to research from analyst firm Continental Research, as many as 5.9 million UK customers carry more than one phone.

Mr Oxby hopes the plan will attract users to new services, such as mobile TV as well as creating new customers.

"It is a way of acquiring new customers and encouraging existing ones to use the full range of services available," he said.

According to Thomas Husson, a mobile analyst with Jupiter Research, 3 launched a similar scheme in Italy last year.

"It has been pretty successful. It benefits the customer and the company which gets inter-connection revenues," he said.

In November last year, 3 launched a money-making mobile TV service, offering to pay customers 1p for every homemade video they submitted that was downloaded by someone else.

With a million videos being created each month, Mr Oxby is pleased by how the service is progressing.

"In some case, we have been writing cheques for several hundred pounds," he said.

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