Buying a new phone is a big deal. Make sure that you have all the facts about entering phone contracts, and some of the hidden charges that can apply when you buy or use your phone.
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There are a lot of choices when deciding to get a phone. The most important step is deciding is deciding how much money you can commit to getting a new phone and affording to keep it running.
You can use the tables below to decide what starting option might be best for you. Once you have decided whether to go pre-paid or post-paid and how you are going to get a handset, then you can decide how much you are probably going to spend on calls, text and data.
Once you have all this worked out then it’s best to go to a shop or online and use this information to match to the best plan available.
Your main choice is between prepaid and post-paid plans.
Within these categories, there are different options you can choose from:
|Warning: on your bill, your phone company doesn’t have to tell you what your monthly allowance is. If you forget, you can find out by calling your customer service hotline.|
Your phone company must provide information on its website about how you can monitor and manage your call, SMS and data usage. These are called ‘usage monitoring tools’. You should also be told how up-to-date the information on your usage monitor is. Sometimes usage within Australia might take a certain number of hours to show up on your usage monitor or a couple of days if you called or texted someone overseas.
Your mobile phone uses data each time you access the internet. Mobile services such as maps, video streaming, video calls, opening emails with large attachments and playing graphic online multiplayer games will use a lot of your data. To reduce data use:
Your phone company must provide information on its website about how you can monitor and manage your call, SMS and data usage. These are called ‘usage monitoring tools’. You should also be told how up-to-date the information on your usage monitor is. Sometimes usage within Australia might take a certain number of hours to show up on your usage monitor or a couple of days if you called or texted someone overseas. If you have a post-paid plan, your phone company must tell you by SMS or email when you reach 50%, 85% or 100% of your call, SMS or data allowance.
It’s important not to rely on notifications and keep track of your spending yourself. This is because the information in the text notifications can be up to 48 hours old. So when you receive an alert, you may have already gone over your monthly allowance.
A premium SMS is a special service that might deliver you with specific media content e.g. Horoscopes. They cost more than normal SMS or MMS messages and will be taken out of your credit, or added to your monthly bill. You can get premium SMS by ‘opting-in’ to the service through SMS, online or by responding to voice prompts in automated recorded messages received to your phone. These services could be one-off, or subscription based. It can be hard to cancel a Premium SMS subscription service especially if the provider is based overseas. You might need to use the data on your phone to access Premium SMS content (like a video sent via SMS). This means you will be using your data on top of paying for the Premium service.
Be aware of scams. If you weren’t asked to confirm your intention to subscribe, you may have been scammed. Scams will often mean that you receive multiple text messages which you haven’t subscribed to. They will charge you each time. If you think you’ve been scammed, keep the message and report it to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission: 1300 302 502 or www.accc.gov.au.
You can cancel your subscription at ANY time (and you should not have to pay any early termination fees). Just SMS the word ‘STOP’ to the ‘19’ number you originally subscribed to. You should receive confirmation from the Premium Service provider that the service has been cancelled. If you keep receiving messages, contact the customer service line to make sure they got your request to cancel. If you need further help, you should contact the Premium SMS provider’s Customer helpline displayed on the ad, or by looking it up at here.
If you have tried fixing the problem yourself, but haven’t been able to, you can make a complaint to the ‘Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.’ You can call them on 1800 062 058.
In-App purchases are items and/or upgrades that you can buy within mobile phone apps e.g. extra features or content in games, for example character upgrades or boosters, tokens, coins or extra points. In-App purchases are quick and easy because the App is often linked straight to your iTunes account or credit card. For Apple devices: if it has been less than 15 minutes since your last In-App purchase, you don’t have to re-enter your account password. This means you could make purchases by accident much more easily.
If you have an Apple device tap the following: Settings > General > Restrictions > Enable Restrictions > In-App Purchases > Off. If you have an Android device, purchases can be restricted with a PIN number by opening the ‘Google Play Store’ app and tapping the following: Menu > Settings > User Controls > Set or Change Pin.
There are three types of In-App purchases:
If you believe you have been misled into making an In-App Purchase you can lodge a consumer complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) here.
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