Exorbitant excess data fees, poor coverage and frustrating customer service has Australians fed up with the big three mobile phone providers – but there’s an unlikely hero on the horizon.
Who hasn’t rolled around on the floor in agony while having their call to a telecommunications company placed on hold and sworn, “As God is my witness, when my contract expires, I am breaking up with them. For good. They’ll miss me when I’m gone”?
(Spoiler alert: They won’t. They don’t care about you.)
After a particularly tedious experience with one of the “big three” providers who I won’t name (hint: It rhymes with Belstra), a friend convinced me to give ALDImobile pre-paid a go. He had been using it for a while and was chuffed.
Initially I was sceptical. It sounded hokey. Getting your phone plan from your supermarket felt like getting dental work at the dry cleaners.
While I very much like Aldi’s smooth white cheese and I respect its commitment to bringing reasonably priced chainsaws to the people of Australia, I was unsure how reliable they would be when it came to delivering my beloved data.
But my friend convinced me to make the change and now I am boring anyone who’ll listen with an evangelical diatribe about how every should flip the bird at their current provider and make the switch.
Crunching the competition
On a broader scale, ALDImobile recently took out the title of “Best SIM-only provider” in Choice’s 2019 survey. It recorded the best satisfaction and network coverage rating from its customers.
But is the network coverage actually any good?
The small players in Australia all use one of the big three mobile networks (Telstra, Optus and Vodafone). Aldi uses the Telstra 3G and 4G network – interestingly, its customers rate its network coverage higher than Telstra customers do.
Independent telecommunications analyst Paul Budde has noticed a definite shift in the mobile market.
“People vote with their feet. They go for the price … and they like the flexibility of not being locked into a plan,” he said.
“From an industry perspective, Aldi is doing a great job in trying to break that situation with the carriers and deliver a better price.
“On a global scale, Australia is way above average cost for mobile services, so it’s very important that we have companies like this providing a more realistic price.”
How to break the ties
Moving away from the dark side was relatively simple. You buy a $5 SIM card at an Aldi store and set up an account online so you can transfer over your existing number and select your pre-paid plan. So far I haven’t had to speak to a human on the phone at any point, and I think we can all agree this is an utter delight.
Whereas I used to repeatedly go over my data limit on my $130-a-month plan and get stung with expensive extra gigabyte fees, I am now swimming in data.
What I don’t use on my pre-paid $35-a-month plan rolls over each 30 days. Seriously, I have so much data I don’t know what to do with it. Would you like some?
I am acutely aware that this sounds like an ad, but I promise I am in no way affiliated with Aldi. Except in my heart. Moving over just felt like an epiphany, and by doing a community service and spreading the word that there’s an alternative to the big three, I feel like Daenerys freeing the slaves from their shackles in Game of Thrones. Minus the incest.
But let’s not take my word for it – plenty of other people are singing its praises.
Phillip’s mad for it.
It’s also endorsed by someone named Libby Berrie.
Isn’t it odd seeing someone sing the praises of a mobile phone company? It’s like seeing a dog wearing a skirt.
There is one catch … but it works out
You do need to have your own phone when joining ALDImobile. A lot of people are drawn to a traditional 12- or 24-month plans with one of the big providers so they can get a shiny new handset.
But when you crunch the numbers it’s cheaper to buy a new phone outright and use an ALDImobile SIM. And you get more data.
Let’s break it down using the iPhone XR 64GB handset as an example.
To own that phone outright at the end of your contract with Telstra it’s a 24-month plan that ends up costing $2544. This includes 20GB of data each month.
You can buy that handset outright for $1229. If you bought that and used ALDI’s $35-a-month plan (which includes 26 GB of monthly data), at the end of 24 months it will have cost you $2074 (factoring in the $5 SIM card). This makes it an overall saving of $470 and an extra 6GB of data a month.
So there you have it. Something to consider next time you go to Aldi to pick up children’s snow mittens or a garden gnome.