Can I have my $650 in gift vouchers instead?

By | 2010/01/10

The mobile phone industry in Australia is one of the most bizarre that you’ll find, according to reports. Quoted rates, for instance, aren’t ever by the minute, but by the half minute – e.g., 15c per 30 seconds, or something like that. Not only that, when you buy a contract or a pre-paid subscription, you don’t get x-hundred minutes of calls or x-teen SMS/MMS’s, you get $x in value. So you get cards and offers like the following:

Voda $650 Credit

The entire system is as bad as a Microsoft licensing overview – complex, and guaranteed to just confuse the hell out of you. Supposedly you pay $79 to Vodafone, and they’ll give you $650 in standard talk, TXT and “more”.

I’d like to see “gift vouchers” falling under the “more” category. That way I could go up, spend $79, and have Vodafone send me out $650 in gift vouchers. That sort of deal would work rather nicely. Of course, they wouldn’t. If that were the case, you’d be screwing them, not the other way around, and Telcos, no matter who they are, all like to be on top in the relationship. Instead, you get $650 of credit for $79 on the basis of your money being drained at say, 79c every 30 seconds, or SMS’s costing 25c each, with caveats such as calls within the same carrier costing half as much, and calls to overseas numbers being at least twice as expensive per 30 seconds, blah, blah, blah. This means that people often think they’re getting $650 in value, confusing quoted rates with what is actually provided. Be certain, they’re not giving away $650; indeed, they’re making a profit on that $79. It’s a market that breeds uncertainty at every layer.

There is one thing however that you always have a certainty over in relation to Australian phone carriers: it doesn’t matter who you sign up to, they still put your name down as Ben Dover.