Archive for August 4th, 2009

Woolworths Mobile versus the rest

Yesterday Woolworths announced that they are launching their own pre-paid mobile phone service which will run on the Optus network. Woolworths are touting it as a simple solution with a single price structure and no confusing “cap” deals. On that front, they are right, however when it comes down to the actual cost of it, it’s not quite as cheap as Woolworths might like us to believe when compared to other providers.

The basic deal is:
Cost per 30 seconds: $0.15
Flagfall: $0.15
Cost per text message: $0.15
Coast per MMS: $0.50

Sounds good on the surface of it, but that has more to do with the fact that other providers have made their own deals sound expensive by charging you in credit rather than real money, and converting real money to outlandish amounts of credit.

For example, Vodafone’s advertised pre-paid rates are:
Cost per 30 seconds: $0.88
Flagfall: $0.35
Cost per text message: $0.28
Cost per MMS: $0.50 (video messages cost $0.75)

Optus:
Cost per 30 seconds: $0.78 (charged in 60 second blocks)
Flagfall: $0.35
Cost per text message (to other Optus pre-paid users): $0.25
Cost per text message (to other carriers): $0.29
Cost per MMS (to other Optus pre-paid users): $0.25
Cost per MMS (to other carriers): $0.29
Video MMS does not appear to be supported.

Telstra:
Cost per 30 seconds: $0.39
Flagfall: $0.30
Cost per text message: $0.25
Cost per MMS: $0.50 (video messages cost $0.75)

Virgin Mobile caps:
Cost per 30 seconds: $0.45 (charged in 60 second blocks)
Flagfall: $0.40
Cost per text message: $0.25 (free to other Virgin Mobile users)
Cost per MMS: $0.60
Video MMS does not appear to be supported

Virgin Mobile Bean Counter:
Cost per 30 seconds: $0.10
Flagfall: $0.25
Cost per text message: $0.10
Cost per MMS: $0.60
Video MMS does not appear to be supported

Naturally there are many more providers and options, but this is enough to run some comparisons on for now. The above prices are all in “credit” rather than real money, so to find out the real cost they need to be converted back in to real money. In most cases, the more you recharge with, the more “credit” you get for your money. For the purposes of this comparison , I’m going to calculate the cost of using the services after recharging with $30 and $50. As the Woolworths services is clearly aimed at the lower-budget end of the market, there’s not much point in running comparisons against the more costly options, however I will include links to the plans so that you can run your own comparisons. I’m also rounding all figures to the nearest cent for readability purposes.

Costs in real money:

Woolworths Mobile:
Credit is equal to real money in this service
Cost per 30 seconds: $0.15
Flagfall: $0.15
Link to plan.

Vodafone $29 cap:
$29 of real money equals $150 of credit. Therefore each dollar of real money is equal to $5.17 of credit.
Cost per 30 seconds: $0.17
Flagfall: $0.07
Cost per text message: $0.05
Cost per MMS: $0.10 (video messages cost $0.15)
Link to plan
It’s worth noting that this plan also provides an additional $150 of credit specifically for use when calling other Vodafone customers.

Vodafone $49 cap
$49 of real money equals $350 of credit. Therefore each dollar of real money is equal to $7.15 of credit.
Cost per 30 seconds: $0.12
Flagfall: $0.05
Cost per text message: $0.04
Cost per MMS: $0.07 (video messages cost $0.11)
Link to plan
It’s worth noting that this plan also provides an additional $350 of credit specifically for use when calling other Vodafone customers.

Optus “Bigger and Better Freecalls”
Credit on these plans is equal to real money, however the $30 plan comes with 300 minutes of free calls and 100 further minutes of free calls to five Optus pre-paid numbers which you nominate. The $50 plan has 500 free minutes and 150 further minutes of free calls to your nominated five Optus pre-paid numbers.
There are a gazillion other plans and options, each with their very own list of difficult to compare extras and addons.
Cost per 30 seconds: $0.78 (charged in 60 second blocks)
Flagfall: $0.35
Cost per text message (to other Optus pre-paid users): $0.25
Cost per text message (to other carriers): $0.29
Cost per MMS (to other Optus pre-paid users): $0.25
Cost per MMS (to other carriers): $0.29
Video MMS does not appear to be supported.
Link to plan.

Telstra:
Telstra organise their caps as “packs” which you buy with your credit balance. Credit is equal to real money.
Cost per 30 seconds: $0.39
Flagfall: $0.30
Cost per text message: $0.25
Cost per MMS: $0.50 (video messages cost $0.75)
Link to plan.
$20 text pack: 12 cents per text message
$50 text pack: 10 cents per text message
$20 photo MMS pack: 37 cents per message
$50 photo MMS pack: 34 cents per message
$20 talk pack: 37 cents per 30 seconds (plus flagfall) charged in 60 second blocks
$50 talk pack: 34 cents per 30 seconds (plus flagfall) charged in 60 second blocks
Link to “plus packs”.

Virgin Mobile $35 cap:
$35 of real money equals $180 in credit. Therefore each dollar of real money equals $5.14 of credit.
Cost per 30 seconds: $0.09 (charged in 60 second blocks)
Flagfall: $0.08
Cost per text message: $0.05 (free to other Virgin Mobile users)
Cost per MMS: $0.12
Video MMS does not appear to be supported
Link to plan.

Virgin Mobile $45 cap:
$45 of real money equals $320 in credit. Therefore each dollar of real money equals $7.11 of credit.
Cost per 30 seconds: $0.06 (charged in 60 second blocks)
Flagfall: $0.06
Cost per text message: $0.04 (free to other Virgin Mobile users)
Cost per MMS: $0.08
Video MMS does not appear to be supported
Link to plan.

Virgin Mobile Bean Counter plan:
Money and credit are equal in this plan.
Cost per 30 seconds: $0.10
Flagfall: $0.25
Cost per text message: $0.10
Cost per MMS: $0.60
Video MMS does not appear to be supported
It’s amusing that this plan is advertised as being a cheap plan for people who want the “best deal around”, and yet it actually costs more than the most expensive of the Virgin caps.
Link to plan.

It’s quite clear from all of this that Woolworths are not the cheapest of the lot, however with the complexity of the plans offered and advertised by the rest of the mobile providers (and I haven’t even come close to examining the entire competition), the Woolworths plan does come across as being a simple and cheap option. The competition have their own “credit for cash” deals to blame for this because, as much as “$320 credit for $45” sounds great, the advertised call rates in credit don’t sound great. The fact that it takes excessive use of a calculator to compare the plans also works in Woolworths’ (and Virgin Mobile’s Bean Counter plan’s) favour as most people won’t bother.

Woolworths also have another plan here which they aim to use to gain some extra market share. They are going to stop selling recharge credit for other mobile providers in their stores and “participating fuel outlets”. It’s cunning, but considering that I buy all of my credit via the Internet or phone call using a pre-registered credit card, it’s not a killer blow.

I’ll be interested to see how much market share Woolworths manage to pick up. Their plan simplicity will probably get them a decent chunk (not huge, but decent) and with any luck will have the knock-on effect of forcing other providers to clarify their plans, which would benefit all consumers.

Samuel

2 comments August 4th, 2009 at 06:30pm

Canberrans paying more than $1 million per month in government parking fees

The ACT Liberals have managed to extract information from the government about the amount we’re feeding in to those parking meters in order to avoid one of the government parking inspectors extracting even more money from our collective wallets, and it is over $1 million per month.

It has been revealed through Questions on Notice that the Stanhope-Gallagher government paid parking cash grab is over $1 million per month for commuters, the Shadow Minister for Urban Services, Alistair Coe MLA said today.

In 2007-08 well over $12 million was collected through paid parking in parking meters and ticket machines. In the city alone there was well over $5 million collected.

“Slugging Canberrans with huge parking costs is an easy cash-grab by the Government and it’s only going to increase with significant parking fee increases introduced this financial year,” Mr Coe said.

Alistair Coe then provides a table of the figures.
Canberra Parking Fees 2007/2008 financial year

There is a slight problem with the table though. My calculations show that the combined total from Civic, Phillip, Belconnen, Tuggeranong and Manuka is $10,546,541.35, which leaves a hole of $2,169,911.20. It’s quite possible that this couple of million dollars comes from Dickson and other unlisted areas, but it’s a pity that these areas aren’t at least listed as “other”.

Regardless, Alistair does make a good point about what the government are doing with this money:

“The Stanhope Government has made little progress on improving the public transport system. Without a reliable public transport service many Canberra families are forced to drive their cars.

“Based on previous years’ data, the government will bring in at least $2m extra from the 20% increase in the cost of parking brought in on 1 July 2009. What extra services and improved parking facilities will Canberrans receive for this money?” Mr Coe said.

Ah, well that’s simple Alistair. More bicycles for public servants, more photos of Simon Corbell sitting on said bicycles with a “I have no idea what this thing is” look on his face, even more eye-popping green paint on buses, and even bigger cars for “the Stanhope-Gallagher government” (please don’t tell me that they intend on marrying).

And none of this even takes in to account the amount we pay to private parking operators.

Samuel

2 comments August 4th, 2009 at 08:05am

Barack Obama’s Rasmussen approval ratings for July

As I noted the other day on Facebook, these months are going too quickly, and it is hard to believe that it’s time to do another monthly update of Barack Obama’s polling figures. It’s safe to say that July was not a good month for Mr. Obama by any means, be it due to a backlash to his plan to socialise healthcare, his decision to put himself in the middle of a private dispute between a professor and a cop, turning it in to a national racial debate, or being the bloke in charge when a government program (Cash for Clunkers) had its budget so badly underestimated that it ran out of money within days, throwing buyers and dealers in to a state of confusion.

As always, the figures presented herein are taken from the Rasmussen Daily Tracking Poll.

July saw the raw approval and disapproval lines crossing, so that most of the latter half of the month saw more people disapproving of Obama’s work than approving of it. I should also point out that there was no polling on July 3, 4 or 5 due to the Independence Day holiday.

Barack Obama's approval rating during July 2009
Data courtesy Rasmussen Reports, LLC

In June we saw the “strongly approve” vs “strongly disapprove” figure, known as the “Rasmussen Approval Index”, cross in to negative territory. In July we saw it in free-fall.
Barack Obama's Rasmussen Approval Index during July 2009
Data courtesy Rasmussen Reports, LLC

As usual, to put this in context, here are the graphs for all of 2009.
Barack Obama's approval rating during 2009 until July
Data courtesy Rasmussen Reports, LLC

Barack Obama's Rasmussen Approval Index during 2009 until July
Data courtesy Rasmussen Reports, LLC

These numbers must be starting to cause some concern for Democrat officials who would be well aware that conservative commentators are pushing for as much of a backlash against the Obama administration in next year’s mid-term elections as possible. On the flipside, those of us on the conservative side of the fence are very pleased that these figures are showing that the gloss has well and truly worn off. Obama is no longer being viewed in terms of his personality, and is instead being judged on his performance.

Samuel

August 4th, 2009 at 06:59am

Go!

Channel Nine’s new youth-oriented digital station “Go!” just appeared on my television’s station list. At the moment it’s just a static screen with a music bed and a looped voiceover reading the on-screen text in a faked “I’m a young person with a slight British accent” voice.

Go! test screen

Hopefully the station’s content is better than this.

Samuel

1 comment August 4th, 2009 at 04:35am

A dream about Kyle Sandilands and his friend Mr. Ego

I’ve been deliberately avoiding making mention of the Kyle and Jackie O fiasco over the last week for the simple reason that I think they only did it for the publicity, and I don’t want to give them the pleasure…and I even rejected Maritz’s column this week because that was her main topic, however I think I need to make an exception for the bizarre dream I had yesterday evening.

In this dream, I was a chauffeur, and Kyle Sandilands got in to the back of the car and demanded that I drive him to Honolulu where, to quote him “they don’t treat their all-knowing celebrities like this”. I informed him that I could take him to the airport, but I can’t drive to Honolulu, which annoyed him, but he begrudgingly accepted this situation, making a remark about how I “must be in on it” and that if I were a Honolululian I would “fix the car so that it can be driven on water”.

Slightly annoyed, and wishing I had a button to eject Kyle from the car, I started driving him to the airport, however a short time later a short man wearing antlers jumped in front of the car, and was struck by the car. Kyle started wailing and the police arrived within moments, declaring the antlered man dead, and congratulating me for stopping a monster. In a state of confusion I asked Kyle what was going on, he then pulled out a microphone and informed me that the short antlered man was his ego, he didn’t know the man’s first name, and no longer wanted to go to Honolulu.

The dream then ended.

It is quite disturbing how deranged and absurd a situation can become in a dream after some alcohol.

Samuel

August 4th, 2009 at 03:55am


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