Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

Telstra ends post-paid plans, moves to “upfront” direct charging

Australia’s biggest telco is doing something different with its post-paid plans: it’s removing the ability to pay afterwards, and basically just taking the money out.

We’re not quite sure what’s happening over at Telstra, but the company is rolling out a new process for many of its customers over the coming weeks that will fundamentally change how they pay their bills.

Currently, if you’re a Telstra post-paid customer or have been one, you’ve been sent a bill and then paid it. Post-paid customers on Telstra typically pay their bill a month in advance, but depending on how life has treated you, that might have been a payment you’ve been able to delay a month or two before settling your bills.

That doesn’t appear to be a process Telstra will continue to let happen.

This week, the company has changed how it plans to charge customers for post-paid mobile plans, shifting the plans to something the telco calls “upfront”. One might call the wording more direct, and it is, but the idea overall seems more direct as it is: rather than wait for you to pay, Telstra’s “Upfront Mobile Plan” will just debit the monthly cost of your plan directly from your bank account or credit card in a way that’s aligned to when you started the plan to begin with.

It means that if you started the plan on December 3rd, you can expect that from December 3rd and every other 3rd of each month, Telstra will just take the money out regardless. No waiting, no time to pay it back, Telstra is just taking the money out, much like how you might have money taken out for a home loan, with the sort of regularity that means your account or card will want to always have something in the kitty.

It also means there’s no bill for its post-paid services anymore, with merely a receipt, though it’s something that only applies to post-paid mobile phone bills on the new plan, with internet plans and Foxtel connections, plus older mobile plans, not affected by this change. Telstra also says it won’t be handling Apple Music subscription billing, either, with those moving to paying Apple directly.

Phone use

Interesting, Telstra’s move is one that disables international roaming for the moment, with the return expected later in the year. That’s hardly a surprise given how few people are going overseas at the moment — thanks, coronavirus — but it’s still a little weird to see all the same, and joins another feature being killed off for the moment, the secondary Telstra One number used for devices like the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch, meaning that new watch customers with a watch that supports the mobile connection won’t likely be able to buy the $5 extra per month when they’re on the new plans, at least for the moment, and therefore won’t be able to go running without their iPhone on Telstra and expect calls to be patched through to the device. Like the roaming support, it, too, will be coming back, but Telstra hasn’t said when beyond “2021”.

Frustratingly, all of these changes appear to be on the cards for customers very soon. According to a page the company has set up about it, the Upfront Mobile Plans will be the only type of plan moving forward for post-paid customers, with the other option being prepaid.

“We will be moving all services to our new Telstra Upfront Mobile Plans over the coming months as part of our commitment to simplifying options for our customers,” the Telstra page states. “Our new plans are no lock in, month-to-month plans, so you can change your plan once a month to suit your needs.”

Telstra's update plans from its website

Presently and before the move to the new Upfront plans, Telstra’s post-paid plans weren’t lock in plans, either. What the new Upfront plans replaced worked in a month-to-month capacity, asking for payment ahead of time, but not taking it out until you paid. Rather, it seems as though the move is less about customers and more about payment to Telstra, with the promise of the “upfront” nature being more about when you pay the telco ahead of time, which appears to be, well, in the most direct and immediate fashion yet.

We’re reaching out to Telstra to find what makes these new plans more “upfront” and better for the customer going forward to find out if there’s any response beyond what’s on its page on the issue.

Read next