Just how 'unlimited' are Australia's unlimited pre-paid mobile phone services? We compare the small print of each telco to see how much phone usage is actually permitted -- along with your chances of getting disconnected from the service if you overstep the mark.
Phone picture from Shutterstock
Earlier in the week, Kogan Technologies came under fire for dumping customers from its unlimited pre-paid mobile phone service for what it claimed to be “unreasonable” usage. As we noted at the time, this shouldn't have come as too much of a surprise to anyone who took the time to read the terms and conditions before signing up.
However, it did get us thinking about how upfront Australian telcos are on their websites when it comes to fair usage policies. Here's an overview of each company's 'unlimited' T&Cs.
According to Kogan's website, Kogan Mobile offers unlimited Australian calls and texts and 6GB of data on a Telstra network for $29 a month.
The Kogan website is pretty slipshod when it comes to the T&Cs -- on certain pages of the website, you can only access usage information through a 'members-only' area, while other pages provide access to a PDF summary.
The critical information summary states that customers must not:
use the Service in a manner where your volume of calls or texts within a single 30 day period exceeds the volume of calls or texts made by 99% of users of the same type of Service within that same 30 day period, as reasonably determined by Kogan.
Furthermore, customers are restricted from downloading/uploading more than 400MB of data on three days in a 30 day period or downloading/uploading more than 1GB of data on a single day.
The Aldi Mobile 'Unlimited Bolt-on Pack' purports to offer unlimited national calls and text, plus 5GB of data for $35 a month. It also comes with $10 credit for international and premium services. However, a perusal of the service's critical information summary reveals the below disclaimer:
The ALDImobile Unlimited bolt-on is provided for the benefit of residential users and is not for commercial use or for use as a permanent connection. Further, data included PrePaid bolt-ons are not designed to replace a home Internet connection or for regular download of large files.
Delving deeper into the Acceptable Use Policy document unveils the following:
You must not stay connected to the Service continuously for an unreasonable amount of time, or download or upload an unreasonable volume of data, given the purposes for which the Service is provided to you and the usage patterns of other users (for example, staying connected continuously for several days, or downloading gigabytes of data in a short period)
The document goes on to state that Aldi reserves the right to disconnect users that breach these policies. It may also place time or download limitations on the service or suspend use of the service for a specific period.
This is all pretty clear-cut, although the definition of 'unreasonable' is not specifically spelled out in terms of phone usage. The policy is also somewhat buried from view on the website -- it requires four mouse clicks to get to the actual policy details.
The Amaysim 'Unlimited Offer' claims to provide unlimited national calls and text, unlimited access to social networks and 6GB of data for $39.90 a month. International call rates start from six cents per minute.
At the bottom of its website, Amaysim states that its unlimited plan is "for personal use only" -- but neglects to provide any other details. Its T&C page adds the following:
If we determine that you are using amaysim Unlimited other than for personal use or if we determine that you are using the Plan in a way that does or may, in our opinion, adversely affect the network we reserve the right (at our option) to transfer you to the amaysim As You Go Plan, or to immediately suspend or cancel your access to the Service.
Red Bull Mobile Unlimited
Red Bull's 'monthly Unlimited pre-paid plan gives the user unlimited national calls and text, access to the Red Bull MOBILE Portal and 4GB of data for $39.
Interestingly, the Red Bull Mobile Unlimited critical information summary does not make any mention of unreasonable usage (at least, not that we could find).
Boost's 30-day pre-paid 'UNLTD' unlimited plan claims to provide unlimited national calls and text, and "up to 3GB data" for $40.
Boost Mobile is the most upfront about its unlimited policy, with a prominent disclaimer under the heading 'Things You Need To Know:
For personal use only and subject to Telstra Fair Go Policy on unreasonable use.
An actual link to the aforementioned policy is not provided, however. Boost's Terms and Conditions -- which are also handily displayed on the main webpage, provide the following details:
We may suspend or cancel a service for a number of reasons– including when you are in breach of OCT (such as using your service in a way which we reasonably believe is fraudulent, poses an unacceptable risk to our security or network capability or is illegal), in an emergency, if we're legally required to or if we need to work on our networks. The amount of notice (if any) we give you depends on the circumstances.
So there you have it -- most unlimited pre-paid mobile plans come saddled with plenty of terms and conditions, although the transparency among telcos differs. Delving into the small print can be tedious at the best of times, but it will help to avoid disappointment. Like most things in life, when a mobile phone offer seems too good to be true, it most often is.