If you're on Telstra prepaid and you use voicemail, life is about to get a little more costly. If you're on the Cap Encore plan (the most heavily promoted of Telstra's prepaid offers), from July 31 retrieving voicemail will be charged from your recharge credit rather than your call credit.
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Grabbing voicemail on Telstra isn't cheap: you'll pay 39 cents connection fee and 89 cents per minute or part thereof, which means every single message costs you at least $1.28 to retrieve. Previously, Telstra took this amount from the call credit assigned to each Cap Encore plan. Now it is taking it from the recharge credit, which is a much smaller amount. For instance, a $30 plan has $30 of recharge credit and $250 of call credit; a $100 plan has $100 of recharge credit and $1900 of cap credit.
In practice, this means that on a $30 plan, retrieving just one voicemail a day would entirely use up your recharge credit before the month was out. Your cap credit can only be used for calls and texts to standard Australian and international numbers. Recharge credit is also used for data, and calls to non-standard numbers.
If you never use your recharge credit and don't exceed your data allowance, then you may not notice the difference. But for heavy voicemail users or anyone who sometimes exceeds their data allowance and gets occasional voicemail, it will be an unwelcome change.
Voicemail charges are one of the more prominent hidden traps in prepaid mobile plans. As we've pointed out before, only Virgin Mobile and Red Bull offer free voicemail access on all their plans. Optus and Boost offer free access on their day-to-day plans, as do most 'unlimited' caps.
Telstra appears to be undergoing some heavy tweakage of its plans right now, having yesterday quietly altered its postpaid contract mobile deals as well. Thanks Kanthan for the tip!