If you’re still being charged for services that might be free on an updated plan, you’re not alone. It’s one reason why checking your phone plan regularly is a smart idea.
You can only trust the providers of services so much, because if there’s extra money to be made, you can probably bet you’re not going to be told where you can save on costs.
Take paying a home loan. If you have a home loan, checking whether it’s still a good deal and if you’re getting a great rate is important, and could be the difference between you paying big dollars each month on your mortgage. When one rate ends and another replaces it, you can bet your lender is hoping you don’t look at what’s out there, and consider refinancing. They have more to gain long-term from any inaction you might take.
It’s a similar situation with phone plans, because while telcos have slimmed down the options and made it easier to buy a plan based on your needs, it’s also entirely possible they haven’t gone out of their way to fix your current plan to match those new ones.
Which is actually the situation this journalist found himself in this week.
After being invited to appear on ABC Brisbane to talk about voice mail and other voice to text services, one of the initial comments he had was that voicemail services can cost extra, which might be one reason why people don’t use them as much.
There are other reasons for voice mail to be used less — not everyone checks their voice mail, leaving the message to sit there un-listened; visual voicemail is a great incarnation, but only works on iPhones; telco voice to text services are sometimes more logical, but rarely work for reliable text translation — but cost is definitely one that warrants thought.
But cost is also not necessarily a problem for voicemail if you’re running on a new or recent plan.
If you’re running on a new or recent mobile plan, there may actually be no cost to voicemail, beyond the call you make to check your messages. That’s great, and means you’re not being charged extra.
However, if you’re running an old mobile plan — like this journalist has been — your telco might not have told you that voicemail costs money.
For some old plans, it’s as much as $6.99 per month, while others will run it at $5 monthly. Either way, if you’re paying for voicemail, it’s one more indication your plan is costing you extra and making your telco that little bit more, too.
There are other features that could be seeing you spend more, such as call costs and data differences, and they all just cite yet one more reason why you might want to look at your plan and see whether it’s a good deal right now.
How often you should check your plan
Like many things, going out of our way to check our plans is probably the furthest thing from our mind. We have just so much to do on the day to day, and assuming you’re not being leeched is kind of just normal.
But that’s exactly what you should do, regularly taking it upon yourself to check plan costs to find out whether your plan is doing your money proud.
“If you want to spend as little as possible on your mobile bill, it makes sense to change phone plans every six months,” said Alex Choros, Managing Editor of Whistle Out Australia, one of the country’s largest plan comparison websites.
Choros told Pickr that changing your mobile provider typically takes less than 15 minutes, and that many providers offer discounted rates for the few half of your time with them. With many phone plans running contract free these days, he noted there was no penalty for leaving once the discount period ended.
“If every six months seems like too much hassle, it’s worth checking to see if you’re still on the best plan for you once a year. Most providers typically adjust their plans once every 12 months,” he said.
How to switch plans
Whether you’re staying with your current telco or switching to a new one, jumping from one plan to another should be relatively simple. Porting your number from one carrier to another is something that is generally accepted by telcos in Australia, and making the jump from one carrier to another is often simply a case of applying for one plan and moving to another.
Alternatively, staying with your current telco is often just as easy, and may involve sweetening the deal.
While it’s unlikely you’ll score the bonuses often provided to new customers, such as gift cards, it’s also possible that a conversation with a customer service team member could get you there, especially if they’re at risk of losing you as a regular long-term customer.
Ultimately, all you need to do is ask, and if you don’t get what you’re after, you can always walk. It’s your service and your wallet in the end.