Tarifica Scores Provide A Limited Way Of Comparing Mobile Phone Plans

Choosing a mobile phone plan can be fiddly and time-consuming. US research firm Tarifica is now assigning scores to Australian mobile plans to determine which ones offer the best value, but frankly we’re sceptical about how useful that is.

Mobile phone picture from Shutterstock

Tarifica analysed all the available postpaid plans for Amaysim, Optus, Telstra, Virgin and Vodafone, and each was assigned a score. We’re not told the exact mechanics, but the announcement release does say this:

These scores provide objective, quantitative comparisons of mobile plans based on a consumer value-oriented approach. The Tarifica Score takes into account factors such as plan allowances (minutes, SMS, MMS and data), network speeds and value added elements, including data sharing, international calling allowances and roaming benefits. It is designed for easy apples-to-apples comparisons even in cases where plans appear quite different on their surface, thereby helping consumers understand which plans offer the best value for the money.

Here are the scores out of 100 Tarifica assigned for overall plans in June:

Provider Plan Score
Optus My Plan Plus SIM Only $60 100
Vodafone $85.00 Red SIM Only (Double Data Promotion) 99
Amaysim Unlimited 81
Virgin BYO Postpaid – Plan SIM Only $40 (Promotion) 66
Telstra BYO phone plans L 57

While we wouldn’t dispute all of these conclusions (you really do pay a lot more for Telstra plans), there are two reasons why we wouldn’t use these scores as the main basis for choosing between offers:

  • Not everyone has the same needs when it comes to phone plans. For many of us, data is the most important consideration; for other people, free calls on the same network will predominate; for some people, network coverage where they live or work will eliminate some contenders at the outset. To suggest that plans can be compared in a way that’s meaningful for everyone doesn’t make sense.
  • The scores only cover postpaid plans. As we’ve noted many times before, prepaid plans frequently offer better value and don’t tie you to a contract. Check out our recommendations for the best current postpaid deals.

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