If you’re an AIS customer and use 1-2-Call prepaid cards to top up the funds in your mobile phone you may have noticed that since the beginning of this month, they have been getting increasingly harder to obtain at your local 7-Eleven store.
The trouble for AIS customers is there’s a 7-Eleven store at nearly every corner throughout Thailand so it’s there where you would naturally buy a new 1-2-Call card when your phone has run out of credit.
Your webmaster, who is a 1-2-Call customer too, has been lucky there’s also a Tesco Lotus “Express” store just around the corner from where I’m living, so I could use Tesco instead of the two nearby 7-Eleven stores that had run out of 1-2-Call cards since earlier this month.
But why did all 7-Eleven stores appear to run out of 1-2-Call top-up cards at the same time? From the beginning I suspected the real reason for the sudden shortage of 1-2-Call cards was some kind of business conflict between Advanced Info Service (that’s Thailand’s largest mobile operator and what the acronym AIS stands for) and the owners of 7-Eleven – the mighty Charoen Pokphand Group (CP), that’s Thailand’s largest private company and one of the Asia’s largest conglomerates.
This has been confirmed by Khaosod English today:
The convenience store giant [7-Eleven] has stopped offering all services nationwide related to the mobile phone operator [AIS], Advanced Info Service PCL announced Thursday.
The two parties severed their business agreement after AIS balked at 7-Eleven’s desire to increase its marginal costs to 6 percent from 4 percent (…) In response, the convenience store chain managed by conglomerate CP Group in Thailand stopped AIS products at the beginning of the month.
The underlying reason for the conflict, we suspect, is of course that True Move – Thailand’s third-largest mobile operator, third to AIS and DTAC, and part of the True communication conglomerate – is also a CP subsidiary and so part of the same conglomerate as 7-Eleven is.
If you, too, are an AIS customer you can still buy your 1-2-Call top-up cards and use other AIS services at all AIS retail storefronts, freestanding top-up machines as often found outside 7-Eleven stores, ATMs, and markets like Big C, Family Mart, Tesco Lotus and Tops.