Porting and Termination Fees – Telco Companies in Australia

phone fees

An overview – Termination fees aren’t fair

  • Australians rank fair treatment as very important.
  • Fair treatment can be interpreted in a number of ways.
  • Regardless of your definition, porting and termination fees seem very unfair.
  • Some telcos still charge these fees.
  • Make it a habit to read your providers CIS to know if they do.

Fair treatment

Australians just want to be treated fairly. Our research shows that Australians rank fair treatment higher than customer service and innovation (entertainment inclusions, etc.). It’s the highest determinant factor when you take away the obvious basics – affordability and network strength.

What subscribers’ value

Subscribers place more value on fairness than on innovation. Source: Whatphone

Despite this fact, some telcos still fail to recognize what’s fair and what’s not. There seems to be a lack of ability for some telcos to put themselves in the customer’s shoes. Fair treatment is a broad phrase – it’s subjective, but it can easily be determined through an objective assessment.

For example, where mobile phone service providers are concerned, fair treatment can mean features like data banks that allow customers to keep their unused data. It can also mean features like Telstra’s ‘Peace of Mind’ data that eliminate data overage charges. It can simply mean more data for less like we’ve seen from many MVNOs.

But fairness isn’t all about data. Allowing customers to change plans, port or leave their telco without fear of penalties is also fair treatment. But some telcos still don’t recognize this fact, and they continue to charge porting and termination fees. Customers want freedom and flexibility – they want to be in control of their phone plan and that includes the freedom to switch carriers when they aren’t satisfied or when they find a better deal elsewhere. Charging fees for such an exercise of choice just doesn’t seem right.

How do you know if your telco will charge you fees for leaving?

These days, there are a lot of different fees associated with phone companies that most customers are unaware of. Some telcos count on the fact that you haven’t read the fine print, and sit back and watch as random charges pour in.

Porting and termination fees are a tricky one. Some never really know they exist until they decide to switch to another telco for a better deal or better service. But in Australia, these porting and termination fees are readily available in every telco’s CIS.

What is the CIS?

The CIS is the Critical Information Summary – a brief, simple English document which tells people what fees are and are not included in the plan. In Australia, phone companies are obligated by law to provide a CIS – they HAVE to show these on any page where people can see their plan information.

Reviewing the CIS is simple and straightforward. It’s usually only a couple of pages long, and it breaks down everything you need to know about fees and charges for the particular plan in question. It’ll take you all of 5 minutes to scan each CIS to establish whether these phone companies will refund your credit balance or not if you decide to leave, along with other spurious fees they might include.

Before you buy any plan, simply click on the link to the CIS page or document. Doing this can save you a ton in the long run and it can also help you determine whether that deal you’re considering is, in fact, a good deal.

For example, TPG has been known to be notorious for their outlandish charges. Their data overage charge at one point was as much as 10 cents per MB, amounting to $100 per GB of excess data!

This obviously brought a lot of complaints that led the telco to eventually adjust their data scheme, but a brief look at the CIS prior to purchasing a TPG plan could have easily saved customers a ton of money. Even today, although TPG plans have been revised to eliminate unfair fees and charges, termination fees and other weird charges still exist. If you leave the telco, prepare to forfeit the cost of all unused credit.

Which telcos will charge me if I decide to leave and which won’t?

Again, a quick look at the telco’s CIS for each plan will tell you if you’ll be charged for moving on to another company. The charging schemes vary – a telco might charge a straight up early termination fee, while another may simply hold on to your unused credits, and yet another may do both. It all depends on the telco and this, too, is all explained in the plans’ CIS.

However, if you’d rather not spend time reading through the details of each plan on each telco you’re considering, we’ve got you covered. Below, we’ve compiled a table list of service providers that charge you one way or another when you leave, as well as those that don’t.

Termination and Porting fees

Phone companies that penalize you for leaving and those that don’t.

Looking at the above list, you’ll notice that most phone companies don’t charge any termination fees. These telcos obviously realize how important fair treatment is to their customers and potential customers. However, there are still some that penalize you and they do so in a variety of ways. Perhaps with increased competition in the telco market, this won’t be the case for long.


Australians just want to be treated fairly by their phone service providers. This should be a noteworthy factor for telcos as they introduce new plans and offerings. They must ask themselves if customers will consider a certain feature or charge to be fair, before introducing it to the market. This is even more of an important factor considering the fierce competition of today’s Australian telco market. However, some telcos simply fail to understand just how important fair treatment is to their customers, and so they continue with some questionable practices.

Porting and termination fees fall into the unfair category. Customers want flexibility and the freedom to choose without having to worry about hidden fees and other penalties. Unfortunately, some telcos still operate under such penalizing terms, refusing to refund unused credits or charging straight up fees of some sort whenever a customer decides to leave. But information on which telco charges what fees can easily be discovered by customers if they review the company’s CIS pertaining to the plan in question. The CIS tells you everything you need to know about fees and charges in a simple, short document that you can run through in 5 minutes or less.

For the diligent customer, the CIS is a gold mine that can end up saving you a ton of money in the long run. But for those who’d rather just have all information in a simpler format without flipping from CIS to CIS, we’ve provided a table list of companies that penalize you for leaving, and those that don’t. Fortunately, most telcos on our list don’t charge a thing. Hopefully, others will follow suit on the quest for a fairer mobile plan environment.

Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.