No surprise there: Australian telcos overcharge for SMS

By | 2010/01/24

The SMH online has an article titled “Consumers being ‘abused’ by text message price rort“.

It could perhaps be said that the only truly remarkable thing about the article is that it might take someone by surprise. Australian Telcos are renown for gouging and sucking consumers dry in comparison to other countries. A few key quotes from the article include:

While the cost of mobile phone calls has declined in the past five years, the standard flat rate for a text message at Telstra and Optus has remained unchanged at 25 cents. At Vodafone, a text is 28 cents.

Comparing to the exorbitantly high prices for mobile data, SMS still comes out as the king of the rorts:

The 25 cent cost of a text, for 160 bytes, means Optus and Telstra effectively charge $1560 per megabyte. If comparing with a $30 internet plan with a download limit of 10 gigabytes, the charge per megabyte is 0.3 cents, including free email.

Then by comparison, you’ve got:

SMS Global resells text services at between 5 and 10 cents a message – for both local and international texts. The standard price for an international text at the major mobile services providers is 50 cents.

Finally, we’re “reassured” that:

Australia’s three mobile network carriers Telstra, Optus and Vodafone argue they are not charging 25 to 28 cents a text since most Australians sign up to a cap plan, whereby the user gets a certain number of calls and texts a month for a set amount of money.

Vodafone Australia spokesman Greg Spears said the company’s $49 cap plan, for example, provided customers with $350 credit a month.

”If a customer used their entire $350 worth of credit exclusively for texts, that customer could send 1250 texts per month – so each text has actually cost less than 4 cents.”

However, that’s not really reassuring. The Australian Telcos have such a deliberately brain bending approach to caps and price plans that it’s like being told a $3000 car service was “cheap” because the service was thrown in for free after marking up the parts 2000%.