Voicemail is one of the hidden traps on many mobile plans, and can cost you quite a lot if you're a heavy voicemail user. We've rounded up the charges for every major player in Australia so you can avoid unexpected charges.
I was inspired to revisit this topic after Virgin Mobile conducted a survey of 1,000 Australians which suggested 97 per cent of us believe that voicemail should be free, but only 12 per cent of us actually know what the charges are. (That's also the source of the picture above; it is Talk Like A Pirate Day, after all.)
Unsurprisingly, Virgin Mobile is the relatively rare example of a provider which doesn't charge for voicemail access at all. Based on a finding that the average Australian leaves 1.2 voicemails and receives 1.6, Virgin calculates that the average spend on voicemail per month is $33.
That figure might be somewhat rubbery, but it is worth knowing how much your provider charges, so we've rounded up the contract and prepaid charges across the major carriers. The models vary widely: many providers use a connection fee plus a timed charge, but vary over whether it is per 30 seconds or 60 seconds (or part thereof). A handful (Amaysim, Crazy John's, Optus) don't always charge a connection fee.
These are domestic charges: if your phone works overseas, you'll also pay associated roaming fees. In some cases, there are workarounds: Vodafone, for instance, offers a free ringback service (which explains why so few people I know using Vodafone actually have a voicemail inbox).
Amaysim Prepaid: $0.15 per 60 seconds
Amaysim Unlimited: No voicemail charge
Boost: $0.39 connection fee plus $0.89 per 60 seconds; free on Day to Day plans
Crazy John's Prepaid: FLATchat: $0.10 connection fee plus $0.10 per 60 seconds; Prepaid Caps: $0.35 connection fee plus $0.78 per 60 seconds; Prepaid Basic: $0.15 per 30 seconds
Crazy John's Contract: Value Plans: $0.40 connection fee plus $0.99 per 60 seconds;
Optus Prepaid: Most Plans: $0.39 connection fee plus $0.89 per 60 seconds; Connect 4 Less: $0.10 per 60 seconds; free on $2 Days
Optus Contract: $0.90 per 60 seconds for $29 and under plans; $0.30 per 30 seconds on higher-priced plans; free on $129 Timeless plan
Red Bull: No voicemail charges
Telstra Prepaid: $0.35 connection fee plus $0.30 per 30 seconds
Telstra Contract: Freedom Connect: $0.35 connection fee plus $0.90 a minute for $59 and under plans; free on higher-priced plans; Mobile Phone Plans: no rate specified on site (!); Casual Plan: $0.30 per 30 seconds
Virgin Mobile: No voicemail charges
Vodafone Infinite: $0.35 connection fee plus $0.25 per 30 seconds
Vodafone Caps: $0.35 connection fee plus $0.90 per 60 seconds; $0.35 connection fee plus $0.30 per 30 seconds on $79 cap; free on $99 cap
Vodafone Prepaid: Flexi Cap: $0.35 connection fee plus $0.89 per 60 seconds; TXT & Talk and 365 Day: Flexi Cap: $0.35 connection fee plus $0.89 per 30 seconds; All-Time: $0.40 connection fee plus $0.80 per 60 seconds
The big lessons? The only pay-as-you-go prepaid plans that offer free voicemail are Red Bull and Virgin, plus the pay-per-day plans from Optus and Boost. Most unlimited caps do, but not all of them (Vodafone's $79 plan being the key example). Contract plans that aren't unlimited charge for voicemail in the majority of cases.
While you're unlikely to choose a carrier solely based on voicemail charges, they are something to take into consideration when buying. Got your own preferred voicemail money-saving strategy? Tell us in the comments.
Lifehacker's weekly Planhacker column rounds up the best communication deals.