Finance Dollars & Sense Unhappy Australians paying $1.2 billion for phone plans. Here’s how to switch

Unhappy Australians paying $1.2 billion for phone plans. Here’s how to switch

Phone plans
Australians unhappy with their phone plans are paying more for their service, new research finds. Photo: TND
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Unhappy with your telco?

You’re not alone.

Australians are paying about $1.2 billion per year on phone plans with which they are unsatisfied.

A new survey from comparison website Finder has found almost a third (29 per cent) of Australians are unhappy with their phone provider.

The poll of 863 Australians found those with the highest monthly phone bills were more likely to be unhappy, spending $252 a year on average more than those who are pleased with their deal.

Extrapolating that data to the broader population, Finder estimates $1.2 billion is being paid by consumers who would prefer to change provider.

But despite this, 13 per cent of those surveyed said they would stay put as switching providers was too much hassle.

Finder tech expert Angus Kidman said that is unfortunate, as it is much easier than consumers think to find a cheaper phone plan.

“A lot of people have the sense that they’re paying too much,” he said.

“But they haven’t done anything about it.”

Changing providers: What you need to know

The first step to finding a new phone plan is working out more about your current one, Mr Kidman said.

You need to find out four things:

  • Whether you own your phone outright, or are paying it off
  • Whether you are locked into a contract with your telco provider
  • How much you are paying for your current deal each month
  • What data allowances you currently receive under your plan.

What to do if you’re under contract

If you are under contract or still paying off your phone, it is going to be much harder to change plans without having to pay hefty fees.

About 7 per cent of those surveyed by Finder were under contract.

But they still have some options.

Mr Kidman said you can always ring your provider and ask for a new offer.

“Phone companies don’t like to lose customers – they’re an expensive acquisition,” he said.

“Say, ‘Cut me a better deal, I know there are cheaper plans out there’.”

Don’t get fooled by the number myth

About 6 per cent of those surveyed by Finder said they would not switch providers because they were worried they would lose their phone number.

This is a myth. Australian law says telcos must let you keep your number.

“You just say you’re moving provider and the number moves across,” Mr Kidman said.

“Most of the time it’s a seamless process.”

How to find the best phone plans

If you’re not under contract and looking to switch provider then you will need a new deal.

But if it has been a while since you’ve switched provider, Mr Kidman said you will want to get your head around changes in the market first.

Can you buy your phone outright?

If you can buy your phone outright then you won’t need to lock yourself into a contract, which is useful, because that will allow you to pick out a plan that suits you rather than being limited to the ones tied to a phone deal.

Although smart phone prices used to be prohibitive for some, prices have come down considerably over the past four years, Mr Kidman said.

“You can get a decent phone for a lot less than you used to,” he said.

“You can get solid phones around the $500 to $600 mark.”

How much you should pay for calls, texts and data

Once you have picked out a phone, you will have to sign up for a plan.

But Mr Kidman said shoppers shouldn’t concentrate on calls or texts.

The “vast majority” of deals these days come with unlimited calls and texts, he said.

Instead, you should focus on how much mobile data you will use and how much this will cost you.

Mr Kidman said most people don’t need more than $30 a month in data.

“I would start at a lower level and if you do run out, then you might want to move up a little bit,” he said.

“Plans on $30 a month are likely to have plenty of data.”

The average phone user in Australia only uses 15GB of data a month, according to ACCC data.

Such plans can cost as little as $25 a month.