Telco’s who Knows?

Telecommunication providers in Australia ….. what to say. Competition is fierce in Australia and there are many new telco’s popping up. I’ve signed up for mobile plans both postpaid and prepaid online via the website, webchat, in person and on the phone. Which is the best method, well it’s hard to say. If one does one’s research, which I do, then signing up should be a breeze. However, as savvy as I am, I’ve been caught out by the little things ie the failure of the sales reps to disclose all the terms and conditions. The reason being is that when signing up for a plan, sales representatives are unscrupulous. What many people don’t know is that if terms haven’t been properly explained to them by the sales rep and there is a failure to disclose all terms and conditions, then it’s the sales rep that is in breach of conditions, should an issue arise. Once upon a time, one had to initial certain important terms. Now, to be more efficient, everything is streamlined

OPT US …. YEAH NA!

Where do I start? Two weeks I turned up to Kyle and Amani’s grandmother’s house to wish Nana Dawn a happy birthday ….. 89 and doing amazing. I escorted her to and from the doctors and we chatted. In the doctor’s surgery I heard the oh so familiar Apple ringtone and I expected her to retrieve an Iphone 5 from her handbag. Surprisingly she pulls out, what I would learn later was an iphone 7. I’m not a fan of Iphone’s due to the poor battery life in earlier models and the admittance from Apple that their phones were designed to become obsolete. Greed is the need! Anyway, later in her home, I was reading out her messages from the boys first cousin Kruse. It was a new number and I tried to save it, which I did, eventually. It took me about 5 minutes as I’m not used to the interface. This, I said out loud and Nana Dawn confessed that she didn’t know how to use the phone. She then went on to explain how her old phone had caught alight in her hand, right outside the Optus Store in Bay St Port Melbourne. My sister in law Bob was with her at the time and acting on her behalf, Nana Dawn leaves the store with a 3 year contract and a brand new Iphone 7. Great resolution to a problem right? Maybe, could be but, No! Seriously, Nana Dawn will easily live until she’s 92 and therefore pay off the phone and $39 plan. However, I’m not putting any money on it and I love to take the high risk stakes. Seriously, if there’s a 1% chance that I’m going to win, I feel very confident that I will win. I have 0% confidence in this regard.

Nana Dawn January 2020

It doesn’t take a genius to work out the sales rep was only interested in money. This I knew before I walked into the store to discuss cancellation of the phone and contract. I spoke to the guy who signed sold Nana Dawn the contract and asked how he could sell an 89 year old woman a 3 year $39 10GB a month plan and a phone she didn’t know how to use with data she won’t use. His defence was “how should I know what she wanted”. Shock resonated in my brain because I simply blurted out, “that’s your job”. Isn’t that the job of all sales reps to know what their customers want so they can try and upsell them to a better more expensive deal. I obviously read the wrong manual. I told him he should’ve sold her a prepaid phone and put her on a prepaid plan, not because I’m expecting she’ll expire anytime soon. It seemed logical. However, there’s no commission in prepaid plans. Suffice to say, he did agree to take back the phone and cancel the plan.

Unfortunately, the saga is still being drawn out. We had to go to Australia Post and purchase a $99 prepaid mobile but trying to sign up for a prepaid plan using the same mobile number is proving difficult. Present tense applies because a week later when I checked to see if the post paid plan had been cancelled, it hadn’t. I rang Optus customer service and there was nothing in the system to indicate that the cancellation request nor the phone had been submitted. The operator rang through to the store and the girl who answered knew nothing about the phone. Obviously the Port Melbourne store lacks a system for lodging of phone and customer queries. Hence, we were advised to attend the store and collect the phone and ring for a courier bag to be sent to retrieve the phone, which we did. At the store, the girl had no idea about the phone and she opened a number of drawers looking for it. Finally, another sales representative whom I had handed the phone to the previous week, walked into the store. Success! No! I rang through to customer service, explained the scenario and requested a courier satchel. Unfortunately the call was disconnected. Hence, I rang again, explained the scenario to a guy who couldn’t care that an 89 year old woman had been sold a plan and a phone she couldn’t use. All he cared about was the disconnection fee. Thus, I simply informed him that I’d return the phone to the store and let it be processed through the store channels. The sales rep was surprised when I returned with the phone. However, he accepted the phone and I can say that the contract was cancelled without further incident. Nana Dawn is now on a $15 a month Aldi prepaid plan, which is more than adequate for what she needs.

OPT ions …. read the fine print

My journey with Optus didn’t have quite the same ending and as soon as my contract ended, I cancelled it. Initially, I signed up for 2 postpaid contracts for a little over $56 a month via webchat, which included unlimited calls and the sharing of 80GB. I was given free video and music streaming, subscription for my plan but I thought it was for both plans. This I found out the hard way, when my eldest son used all the data one month. Thinking that he could stream using Netflix, I told him to do so. I also learnt that Optus has an automated system of applying 1GB of data for $10, which couldn’t be deactivated. My attempts at communicating my desire to prevent further incursions via webchat and telephone was abysmal. I had to make contact several times to people who weren’t very astute. I had thought when I asked for the data to be switched off to prevent further charges, the representative would switch it off for both mobiles. Not so! After speaking with 4 representatives to resolve the issue, it was obvious that Optus doesn’t employ people to think. After speaking to a 5th representative, the issue was resolved. Suffice to say, I do not recommond Optus webchat customer service. Fast forward a few months and there was another occurence, but I acted quickly and didn’t incur too many extra charges.

SERIOUSLY OPT OUT

When I chose to relocate to New Zealand, I gave Boris my postpaid number and I moved to an Optus prepaid plan. I tried to include it on my existing account, but after several attempts, gave up and created a new account. Minor detail. When I tried to move my youngest son’s number to Optus, I encountered the same customer service issues that I had previously. I learnt that the Optus prepaid customer service is located in India. Hence, they couldn’t connect his number to my account and they kept insisting that I obtain a new number. After 3 or 4 attempts, I had to admit defeat and Amani walked into an Optus store and activated the sim. Technically, because it was under my name, it shouldn’t have been permissable, but I love people like myself, with nouse.

1 + 1 = 3 is not a good deal …. Ever!

Suffice to say, I counted down the days until I was able to cancel my Optus postpaid account. January 14, as soon as the customer services lines were operational, I rang and cancelled my postpaid accounts. The representative trying to be helpful, managed to include my new prepaid account to my existing account. Not that it made a difference. Not that it was a simple case of “too little too late”, it was more a case it didn’t matter. He was really nice and did state that we couldn’t change the past, which I agreed with and that I should continue to remain with Optus. Month to month contracts, not locked in 12 month contracts for $70 a month. An increase of $14 a month for the same plan. I stated he was nice, I didn’t say he was good at sales or customer retention. I told him that I’d already signed up with Belong for $20 a month for both my eldest son and I, who didn’t require much data. He informed me that Belong used the Optus network, which I already knew and then we had a discussion about the quality of the subsiduary Optus network that Belong had access too. I simply informed him that living in Melbourne, the network access was sufficient and, if I was going to travel into regional areas that Telstra provided the best coverage and service. To date neither of my sons or I are Optus customers. However, when I disconnected my postpaid numbers I cancelled a number that is connected to several accounts and so I ordered a prepaid sim online. That was February 4 and I reordered another February 11. Today is February 25 2020 and, still no sim. March 2 2020 and the sim card has arrived but activating it is difficult. As I no longer have the active sim, it can’t be activated online. Thus, I rang and spoke to someone in the prepaid section and due to his ignorance it was obvious I was speaking to a person from an Indian call center. The background noise was loud and although I understood him perfectly, he wasn’t able to assist and I was transferred. The call was disconnected and after the 4th attempt and an hour, I finally resolved the issue and had my old number reinstated. Yes, technically, I have an Optus account but I’ve opted for a 6 month long term prepaid service. I’ll decide whether I’ll actually recharge the service in 5 months time.

I no longer mind!

Optus bill for first half of March for the disconnected service.

I received the bill above last night and I double checked it this morning to make sure I read it properly. Sigh! At least 1 phone call, possibly 2. Opt us! Opt out! Make up your own mind!!!!!!

TELSTRA

Telstra is expensive, full stop. If one lives or travels regularly to regional Australia, pay the extra price.

VODAFONE

Vodafone currently has a deal of unlimited data but, look closer. If one buys both a new phone and sim plan then they offer quite a bit of data before it slows down. If one buys a sim only plan, generosity falls by the wayside. A 12 month plan commences at 7GB for $40 otherwise it’s 1GB for $40 on a month to month plan, before the data slows down. I lack first hand knowledge of the speed when it slows down, so I’m not sure if it’s of any value.

CIRCLES LIFE

Circles.Life had a good promotion $28 for 40GB, however I erroneously failed to put in the code. As I had clicked on the link, I had thought that the promo would be automatically applied. Not so. Hence, my plan is $28 for 20GB, which I obtained for Amani and, he chewed through that within days.

MAKE SURE YOU ADD THE PROMO MANUALLY

The only means of contacting Circles.Life was via the app and webchat. I communicated the issue and Don the Happiness Expert was really helpful. He eradicated the $141 in extra charges and instead applied $10 for an extra 20GB. He told me of the error that I had made and told me to leave it with him and he would deal with it in a few hours. A week later and with a new billing cycle, I noticed that the data had been reset back to 20GB. Thus, I contacted Circles.Life and once again chatted with Don, whom assured me that the problem would be resolved within a few hours. A week later, I contacted Circles.Life and fluked Don again whom assured me that the problem would be resolved within an hour and he would send me an email. I received an email later in the afternoon stating that because the promo hadn’t been entered when I signed up that it couldn’t be changed. I thanked him for his help and informed him that I would take my business elsewhere. He was courteous enough to thank me for the email and assured me that I could contact him again for further support. The next day, I contacted Circles.Life once more via webchat and asked if there were any charges for cancelling my contract and was told that there weren’t. I simply thanked the representative Alexandra and ended the conversation. I scoured the internet and yesterday, I signed up with Amaysim, which offered $10 for 30GB for the first 28 days. After which it’s $30 for 30GB. I probably won’t stay with Amaysim but I have a couple of weeks to make a decision and find another plan. That’s the beauty of competition!

BELONG

Belong offers 1GB data, unlimited phone calls and text messages for $10 a month. For $5 extra, one can ring the 10 most popular international destinations. 1GB of data isn’t a lot but I have no need for mobile data. I contacted the customer service but never received a response, so don’t expect great overheads or service for $10. Belong’s streaming slows down when the allocated data usage has been exhausted. It’s good enough to send and receive messages and phone calls in messenger. I downloaded an Audible audiobook and it took close to 24 hours to do so. I could also receive LinkedIn notifications and if I waited for the page to load, access to Hotmail but not Facebook via the browser. There is no voicemail system and one must leave a 10 second message which is texted. The messages are funny.

Amaysim 30gb for $10 for first recharge (February 2020)

Moose Mobile

It probably comes as no surprise that I found another Telco. Moose Mobile has partnered with Optus and is providing diluted 2019 Optus deals. Hence, Amani is now on the 12 month 80GB for $46 deal. The same contract terms that I had with Optus. Except, there’s no free music or video streaming. Nor is there free football (world game).

I switched Kyle to the month to month $8.80 1GB plan and I’m on the month to month $14.80 6GB plan. The first month must be paid in advance but the billing cycle commences on the 1st of each month. I activated my sim Friday 13th March, thus April’s charge will be about $8. How long will I remain a customer? Seriously, who knows!

Today is Saturday April 18 and it’s been an interesting 4 weeks for telecommunications. Due to Telstra, Vodafone and Optus Call Centres being located in India, I had to cancel both Amani’s and Kyle’s Moose Mobile contracts because their existing numbers couldn’t be ported. Interesting what I learnt of Moose Mobile is that once the allocated data is used, all additional data is charged per MB, like a postpaid account. Thus, I switched Sims on my phone very quickly in realising I was being charged, but I still incurred a $7.50 fee for 1.5GB of excess data usage.

At the beginning of the lockdown period, Amaysim generously gave 30gb of free data. Big tick.

Circles.Life began offering 100gb of data to Belong, Telstra and Vodafone customers so I signed up with Vodafone’s $20 for 40gb for the first month, which then defaulted to $40 a month (automatic monthly payment required). Knowing of the porting issues, I elected to get a new number. I did try to ring and email to have the number ported but as India was in strict quarantine, the messages received were only life threatening issues world be dealt with. Understandable.

After a couple of weeks Circles.Life opened their offer to everyone. It just took a couple of business days to port from Optus based telcos. Hence, I signed Amani up, again. This time I double checked that the code was in the appropriate box. I can happily say that the automated inclusion of the code was in the designated box, as one would expect.

I’m on the hunt for a new phone and the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G with 512GB, is what I’m looking to acquire or the Samsung Galaxy note S10 plus. Unfortunately, the ultra is not available until June 1. And I’m not willing to spend $1800 for the 128GB model because I’m recording video on my phone and 128GB won’t last long. Although, I could buy a memory card, so maybe I will. The question is now with income a huge uncertainty due to the current climate should I pay $2k outright or should I go on a Telco contract and if so, with whom?

Published by Kaukau Karauria

Living life confidently

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