Unfair data charges

My Internet and phone provider is Southern Phone, with whom I am in general satisfied. But they do have what seems to me to be unconscionable fees for going over their data limits. For example, their $40/month Mobile Broadband Plan provides a maximum of 4GB of data. This works out at 1c/MB. OK so far, but if you go over the 4GB in one month the data fee jumps 50 fold, from 1 cent to 50c/MB!. Surely this cannot be justified by their costs.


I’m sure the directors can justify it to the shareholders! :angry:

I used to be with Southern Phone, but found the available service via SP through Optus was pretty crap- SMSs often failed to go, and ones sent to me were up to a week late, and then I received them up to 8 times over the next couple of days! They must only have access to a second rate service, because those problems vanished when I went directly through Optus, who still had an excessive (but not quite so bad, and it has improved) mark-up on extra data, but the data allowance was much larger.


I’ve always assumed that these sky-high charges for excess data can be explained away by providers because they plan ahead and pre-purchase huge blocks of data allowance from the networks for their subscribers. If you use less than your limit, they profit nicely, but if you exceed it, then they have to pay much more for the excess (in theory, but it probably balances out in their favour because other subscribers aren’t using up their limit).

I have one phone that is on a legacy $10/month plan with iinet (also using the Optus network). The excess data charges are steep, but the only way to avoid them is to upgrade to a more expensive current plan, starting at $20/month. I’ve sat down and calculated whether or not it makes sense to stay on the cheaper plan with very expensive excess data, or step up to a higher monthly charge with cheaper excess data.

I’d suggest you shop around and look for a better deal, if you think you might exceed 4GB.

Re Gordon’s comments on Optus, there is another advantage of signing up with them directly: if you travel overseas, you can pre-purchase roaming data packs. As far as I know, these are unavailable to subscribers of eg Southern Phone and iinet.


I’d double check your bill, or maybe it’s an older plan. Looks like their Mobile Broadband is 15c p/MB over the limit. Or if you’re using data attached to a mobile it’s $10 per 1GB.

15c per MB is still very expensive. but much less than 50c (that’s ~$500 per GB!!!). Ask them what they can do for you, even if you’re still on a contract. I’ve found this line helps with telcos after trying to get them to be reasonable: “I understand that this is your final position, as I have now attempted to resolve the situation directly with you I will lodge a complaint with the TIO”

If you want to stick with Southern Phone I’d look into getting their SIM only plan and using that sim in the mobile broadband device. Seems like much cheaper pricing. very odd.

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Thanks for the reply.

I suppose it is possible the Southern Phone representative said 15c/MB and I heard it as 50c/MB. Either way, surely it is unjustified for it to jump from 1c/MB to 15c. They do send a warning when you get to 50% of your data allowance, and when you reach your limit. But I once had both warnings on the same day, together with a notice that my data service would be cut off to ‘prevent bill shock’ and a bill for over a hundred dollars for mobile data with the next statement. It would be much more fare if they simply cut off the data service when one reaches one’s limit?

Thanks for that Scott.

Thanks Gordon. In the past I’ve been happy with Southern Phone’s SMS service. But I’ve just noticed that since they have changed me over to a new plan iMessages are not going unless I’m have WiFi available.

Just started looking at mobile plans.

Seems the Optus plans will charge you $10 per gb over your monthly allowance and under the fine print will continue to honour that rate for up to 150gb if excess data. By my math that’s a $1500 phone bill for the month.

The kicker is it’s automatic for convenience but Optus cannot turn the feature off.

By comparison circles.life which uses the Optus network Will give users an additional 2gb of “free” data if they go over their allowance before restricting the service.

How can this even be legal?

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Why would this not be legal?. Optus have told you their terms of usage. If you need that sort of monthly data then find an unlimited plan, or something like 150GB per month for $50. Optus does that.


They’re not exactly upfront about it. It’s buried in their contractual terms with ambiguous wording like Optus “may restrict” your service. The point is if you purchase a plan, that’s what you expect to pay and to be billed. If you go over inadvertently you should be able to ask tour provider to restrict your service rather than charge you extra.

Having a leeway of up to $1500 a month I consider excessive and possibly baiting as it’s not advertised prominently except to say $10 for an extra 1GB.

It would be nice if they did offer “unlimited” plans but that’s not the case. Look to Vodafone and Telstra for those but they have their own set of restrictions.

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Been burnt by that myself. But you have looked at the fine print, noted the nasties, and I hope you choose a plan to suit your monthly needs. It is a confusing market out there.
Actually, I just did a quick look at Optus data plans, and it is very prominent about how much data you get per month, and what is charged for excess to that.


I have moved your post to an existing thread covering the same territory with different carriers.

Our carrier (Amaysim) notifies us as we are getting closer and closer to our limit. Doesn’t Optus do the same?

Perhaps it is time to review who you go with?