CHOICE membership

Optus Upgrade Unrealistic Expectations

I went into Optus today to upgrade my phone as I’ve had it for two years and have an upgrade option on the account. I was told that they were super fussy about the phones they accept back for an upgrade and if they decide it’s too damaged they’ll charge you the “credit” that was applied to payout the device payments for the final year, in my case about $330. To access the service is also a $150 fee.

They no longer offer the option that was in my contract but there is an additional fee to add something really similar. It used to be pay $150 and return an undamaged phone and free upgrade; now it’s paying $99 for an upgrade in the first year, or $0 after that for an undamaged phone, pay $250 if they don’t accept the old phone.

My Google Pixel 4 was deemed unacceptable because of a tiny mark/ding on the bottom. It’s a couple of mms and very shallow. It’s literally the only thing wrong with it. Screen and back glass are completely unblemished. All of the other parts of the phone are 100%. I think it’s pretty unreasonable to expect a phone someone has had for 2 years will not have even a tiny mark on it.


Welcome @ameyaslana to the community.

Seems very picky if it was just a tiny scratch.

But no doubt it is all in the terms and conditions.

Not sure why you would a new phone after just 2 years. And I am very sure I can see why a phone retailer / service provider would only want pristine condition phones back as part of an upgrade deal.

1 Like

If there is nothing wrong with it why do you need a new one?


Is that germane to the issue and associated query?

People update technology for many reasons and are entitled to if their circumstances permit.

The ‘question’ was

so responses should be about that rather than questioning motivations to update, should they not?


If you are going to get on the latest model early adopter treadmill you can expect to pay top dollar on every purchase. The only variation is how the scheme to extract your money will be structured. Everybody has the right to spend their money on whatever they like but expecting to have the latest and greatest with no surcharge is unrealistic. Discussing the way the surcharge is implemented and if it is reasonable is not going to change anything. So yes it is germane.

1 Like

My underlying question is whether questioning the OPs motivation has anything to do with the surcharge or how it is implemented.

We can disagree.


There are two issues, one is buying a new phone whether outright or on a plan, and the other is the trade (residual value) of an old phone. There are other topics on the Community regarding the benefits of outright purchases and SIM only plans, as well as why a customer might prefer a plan including a phone and perpetual upgrades rolled in, but that seems not your query.

What does Optus do with the trade? If they test it and resell it as a refurb their customers expect near pristine phones, so without seeing (a photo of) the mark on yours it is difficult to know if it would qualify as ‘pristine’ or close enough for a refurb buyer. OTOH the value of on-selling an imperfect even if fully functional trade-in to a third party reselling company may not cover Optus’ ‘investment’ in accepting the trade.

This Finder page provides an overview of Optus’ program and if your ‘blemish’ could be considered a gouge rather than a scratch they could reject it if it Has …cracks or severe scratches anywhere. It is their judgement call.

We have phones 2+ years old that are unblemished, not even a scuff. Always in cases with screen protectors, so it is possible. Whether that bar is reasonable for the general population or not Optus can set their T&C and adjudicate their application for their own program.

If your query is also about the [high] costs of the program rather than background to why you feel done by the refusal to take your trade, that is another issue beyond whether they have ‘unrealistic expectations’ for the trade.


It appears @ameyaslana has a contract with that option to upgrade. It would seem a breach of that contract if Optus now has new contract and want a payment now under the new contract, while the user still has coverage under their old but existing contract. I am no legal expert and we only provide general opinion and advice in a non legal sense, so it is probably best they ask for some legal advice from a competent legal adviser such as available from a free Community Consumer Legal Advice centre. Again, what we feel is appropriate or not is only opinion and should not be relied on. They may have an option to take up a dispute with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO).


It doesn’t. If we insist on interpreting the problem as finding a way to change the vendor’s behaviour you are quite right.

If we allow that saving exorbitant fees can also be made by other means, such as changing buyer behaviour, then my original question comes into play.

I take the view that the first interpretation is not likely to have a solution so I present the second. If you want to close that possibility off go ahead.

Certainly, there will be a payment extracted. On the upgrade they may find that their payments go up and they have a new contract as part of the upgrade. Optus are certain to recover their costs somehow.

I think the original ask was, as they have a contract that currently covers the upgrade with no extra costs to access the service, then why is Optus going to charge them a fee when there should be no fee? A reasonable ask, I think.

The acknowledgement that there is some damage to the phone body then brings into question about whether the phone is in a reasonable enough condition to be used to satisfy the requirements of the upgrade request. Is it something that Optus has sole discretion over? Perhaps Optus does and if the customer agrees to that condition of the contract then if they dispute it at some stage, it would seem the adjudicator would either be the TIO or perhaps their Civil and Administrative Tribunal (to test their rights under ACL) to determine if the condition was an unfair one.

The ACCC may also take an interest but we all know they are generally slow to act if they are going to act (this remains an unknown until something does happen). Sometimes they are like watching tar/pitch drip (for those interested it takes about 8 years for a drip to form and drop).

Live feed of the UQ pitch drop experiment which has been running since 1930 (warning it might take some time to see it happen, read years here):

The Tenth Watch for the tenth Pitch Drop.


It depends. If the original contract allowed for updating of terms and conditions…and the terms and conditions varying the requirements associated with the upgrading of the phone occurred and impacted consumers were impacted, then it is possible that the change could have been made mid-contract. Sometimes when terms and conditions change significantly, there can be exit clauses if a consumer don’t accept the changes.

It would be interesting to know if @ameyaslana was advised of any changes to terms and conditions since taking out the phone. @ameyaslana also needs to check the contract when the current phone contract was taken out…as it appears that there have been multiple past contracts with Optus (one shouldn’t assume that past conditions roll over into new contracts). It is also possible that the new contract didn’t contain the same upgrade provisions which may have been an oversight at the time the contract was taken out.


One aspect we have no idea about and why I say they need a legal opinion as to their rights. Some will say this is an expensive option to get an opinion and I stress there are free legal options out there that require no payment to get a proper legal opinion.

Like the scratch on the phone, this is only something we can speculate on and if it is a question of what is right or wrong they need to go to an adjudicator be that TIO or their Civil and Administrative Tribunal. Before they approach the realms of legal adjudication they need some legal advice about what they might expect, and again nothing we can offer anything more than our opinions.


Optus current advice on it’s trade up option.
The link provides prompts to answer more specific questions.
Support answers - Optus

Optus mention the need to pay a one off fee. No mention of the actual amount of the fee, although @ameyaslana had mentioned 2 different amounts. Did Optus specify the amount of the fee in the original contract, and was it subject to the model of new phone or otherwise prescribed?

Optus in their Q&A indicate the upgrade acceptance is conditional on Optus’ assessment of the old phone ‘after it had been returned’ to Optus. If @ameyaslana is responding to the feedback of an in store consultant the objectivity and consistency of Optus reps is open to question.


is consistent with fair wear and tear, and reasonably to be expected, Optus does say, my bolding,

Your device must be in ‘Good Working Order’. This means the phone is fully functional and isn’t physically damaged beyond normal wear and tear, as reasonably determined by us. Otherwise, you’ll be charged a fee.


All of this is why I never buy from a provider, always outright. If nothing else, somewhere in the T&C will be a clause that says Optus can change it any time they want to. when I want to get a different/newer/upgraded phone I now go to Mobile Monster. I recently sold my iPhone 12 Mini to them, not a scratch. Box and cables all present. The phone was a year old. How they work is that they make an offer based on what you tell them, and a secondary offer (which you don’t have to accept) if they don’t deem it worthy of the first, and they will send it back to you if that s not suitable.

I know this doesn’t answer the OP’s original question. It’s just an alternative if the phone is not still on contract.


Hi all,

Sorry for asking and disappearing. I wanted to upgrade and got a plan with that option because I test apps as a side gig. The Pixel 4 just dropped off the supported devices list. So nothing is technically wrong with it beyond no longer meeting my specific needs. I expect to pay a premium for this and it factors into the costs of my side gig.

But I was sold this option specifically as part of the Pixel 4 contract as being exactly what I needed and the phone only needed to be in a condition of reasonable wear and tear for the age of the phone. Optus does refurbish and resell the phones, so I do understand the need for intact and undamaged phones. I just don’t think it’s being judged as a reasonable level. I’ve attached a photo of the bottom of the phone. The front and back are unbroken and scratched.

That link to the finder page is the plan I had. $150 to trade up after 2 years and it was specified within the contract. It cost $300 instead because they wouldn’t accept it. I can resell it myself for about that much so it’s less about the money and more about the spirit of the contract. Knowing I intended to do this my phone has always had a screen protector and in a case. The mark came from my curious 4 year old removing the cover and dropping it. Because 4 year old.

The other figures I mentioned are the new version. It’s also what is offered now instead of insurance. I took it out, but in 2 years time I fully expect to pay the $250 unacceptable/damaged/lost cost vs the $99 in the first year $0 after that.

My original concern is what’s considered fair wear and tear as deemed by Optus. The version I had previously was just an inclusion in the contract at no extra cost beyond the upgrade fee, whereas, the new version I took out costs a fee per month. This is still the best option for my situation. But it feels really shonky to sell it as an upgrade for a phone with reasonable wear and tear can be upgraded but it’s really only available to people with phones with absolutely zero damage.

Thanks all for your thoughts and opinions. I am actually chasing it up with Optus as well. It could either be incorrect training of instore staff as to what is acceptable or staff at the store being shonky to inflate new contract figures, because the upgrade may not have counted towards their store KPIs.

Thanks for the hint about Mobile Monster as well.

It looks like from the photo that the phone may have been dropped as the casing on the corner is split/damaged (the split or opening is to the left of and below the white mark). This may be consider more than wear and tear and may indicate damage within the phone (such as moisture entry or impact damage to components). The internals of the phone also appear to be visible (see red arrow)…


This may be why Optus deemed the phone unacceptable for an upgrade.

That’s not what they said no to it about. They didn’t have the advantage of a super zoomed-in photo. Yes the phone was dropped by my daughter and if they’d sent it away and it came back with a note about what you’re pointing at with the red arrow I wouldn’t have queried it. Because looking at that photo yes you can see that. But they couldn’t see that. This was just a visual inspection of the phone without magnification.

But the reason they gave for not accepting it was what is clearly a small tear in the silicone on this photo, circled in blue. My concern is less my situation, which to be fair annoys me but also once you see that highlighted in the photo sure (I didn’t notice it but can clearly see it now.). You can’t see it visually looking at the phone, even knowing that it’s there. It looks big here in the photo but that silicone tear is only a little over a mm long in person. It’s more about what about someone who just had that tiny tear in the silicone, which is the only thing instore they were able to establish as being wrong with the phone.