Consumers Not Aware How Much They are Being Overcharged.
18 November 2010
Not a week goes past without me hearing a horror story where consumers are being ripped off by their ISP, running out of Internet (usage) or worse paying for more usage needlessly.
It Goes Like This
Last year in September 2010, all the ISPs in Australia (to be competitive) and as a result of lower wholesale broadband costs did 2 things that benefits heavy Internet users and everyone else.
1) Increased the usage available for almost all services for all users for the same price (up to a 500 or 100% increase in usage available for the same price); I even saw some plans go from 25gb to 500gb for the same price. More importantly
2) Lowered the cost for almost every plan in Australia for every single user based on the plan they were on (that is home broadband, mobile (that is sim based in a handset or on one of the many sticks).
Why So Serious ?
To steal a phrase from Heath Ledger, so why isn’t Australia rejoicing? Why so little in the press of the HUGE savings. Turns out 95% of consumers were not aware their existing service lowered in price as there is NO obligation for an ISP to tell their customers. Now for us heavy users (that say download movies from Foxtel, Microsoft, Optus or others), this is a great thing. For low users to be fair the lower price is not always a lot, the usage amount is the higher benefit.
It Gets Worse
But there is another impact of this that is costing consumers even more money. As the download usage continues to increase (for many reasons from downloading iTunes, You Tube or Movie Downloads when consumers are not aware they can get more usage for free, in many cases they are being charged for excess usage far in excess of the same account they can upgrade for free.
Supplier T doesn’t cut off customers when they exceed their usage they charge per MB for excess charges. Customer A, has a low usage plan (say 500mb) from 1,2,3, 5 years or 6 months ago, they all of a sudden start using 1GB (a low amount for most of us) or 2GB or more, their excess charges now can be 10 times their monthly bill $500 vs. $50. When questioned the ISP never suggests the customer upgrades their plan for free just negotiates on their excess usage due to the complaint.
This is criminal (socially speaking) but actually legal, as there is no mandate to force ISPs to tell their customers of the better service they can get with a phone call or online, and it should be addressed.
Impacted Services Every Internet Service, Home or Mobile? Even those that have monthly recharge mobile Internet may be using an old usage plan.
What to Do ?
Easy check your next Internet bill, home and mobile see what plan you are on, and check with your existing ISP (even can be done online in 5 minutes or less) to see what that same money buys today from your existing ISP (or shop around if you are more adventurous). Having multiple devices and accounts means more savings and these savings can be huge.
Where To Go to Check Pricing ?
http://whirlpool.net.au – A great sight been running for years, has folks that can offer free advice (sometimes worth every penny), but great tool as well type in your number and they can tell you who covers your area for home service, and even links into the different prices for ISPs, many offering package deals on home and mobile usage as well (a whole bunch of caveats exist on bundles and coverage)
http://broadbandguide.com.au- Another site for comparing different plans
The Poor ISP
This is not a totally gratuitous statement (I have been in the biz for 20 years) but ISPs here in Australia have options on how to manage this better, otherwise they will see their own profits worsen needlessly (they are a business by the way). When ISPs in other countries had this challenge i.e. in the UK (for a few million customers), the decision was made to offer the lower prices to all customers make sure they were aware of the new lower pricing and only allow customers to get the new lower pricing if they sign a new contract (as they did when they signed up) This way you are offering customers a deal and let them decide.
In Australia we consumers have not been given that chance. Perhaps why we are called CONsumers .
These are very exciting times in the techy world; no one should be ripped off.
18 November 2010
Did I get it wrong (or right) let me know
My ISP used to automatically upgrade my plan if the cost was the same. They stopped doing this but then continued to send an email announcing new plans. They then stopped doing that too.
Since then I’ve used the “Upgrade your plan” tool on my ISP’s Account Tools almost every month to see if new plans are available.