We received the below report about Optus prepaid mobile phone billing practices:
I have a prepaid Optus plan for my mobile phone. I think I started on the plan around the 27th or the month and I thought I would be paying monthly on the 27th of every month. I started to wonder why the date kept on coming down. This month’s payment is due on June12th. I went in to the local Optus shop and asked the question, “Why do I seem to be losing days on my plan?” I explained that I sometimes pay a day or two early if I know I will be away or busy on the due date. The young man explained that the early payment was the reason that I was losing days. If I paid on the due date every month then the payment would always be due on the 27th.
As you can see in the T&Cs (pdf) for the ‘Epic Value’ pre-paid plan, “included minutes will expire in the time frames specified above, or on the next recharge, whichever is earlier”. Optus is not the only prepaid mobile providers that bills this way. Telstra (pdf) has similar billing procedure for its standard ‘Prepaid Max’ plan. So, recharging your pre-paid mobile earlier than expiry reduces the value you receive in terms of ability to make standard calls.
Data on the other hand can be rolled over. However, both of the examples above require you to recharge your account before expiry to rollover unused data. The closer you allow your account to get to its expiry, the better value you can extract from both calls and data. However, if you forget to pay or the website goes down, then you might miss out on your data rollover at the expense of extending your access to make calls included in your original plan.
I’m interested to hear, what do people think about this practice - is it fair or not?
Some other factors:
- These are not the only plans from Optus, Telstra and other SIM providers. The former both have ‘long expiry’ plans that allow call credit to rollover to a capped limit. The long expiry plans also apply call charges differently.
- The aforementioned prepaid plans offer ‘unlimited standard calls’ (time based) rather than call credit. Would it be reasonable for the providers to have unused days roll over, or not?
- There are many other options on the market, please share your experience with different plans and providers or alternative approaches.
While not specifically looking at this scenario, here is an article from CHOICE about prepaid vs phone plans.