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Woolworths Mobile versus the rest

August 4th, 2009 at 06:30pm

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

Entry Filed under: General News,IT News

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2 Comments

  • 1. Jesse Mahoney  |  August 4th, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    You should note that Optus charge per minute on phone calls now. So you will be paying for a full minute even if you go 5 seconds into it.

  • 2. Samuel  |  August 4th, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Thanks for that. I’ve updated the Optus listings now.

    I got a headache trying to work out what was going on in the Optus plans. I would have liked to examine some of their other options but that could have taken the rest of the week.


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