- Well known brand - reliable
- Recharging is easy - tie in with weekly shop
- Auto-recharge option
- Great coverage with the Optus 4G PLUS network
- Data rollover
- No entertainment options
- Customer service based in the Philippines
- Three plans available, but only one has 30-day expiry
Coles – Another Supermarket Phone Company – Great for $20 Monthly spends
Introducing Coles – 60 second summary
- We recommend Coles for $20 monthly spend levels, 30 day recharges, especially if you are a Coles shopper who visits the store regularly. Additionally, Coles will fit for students, females aged 30-59, Tourists and mums / kids.
- Coles $20 is about the best data inclusion you’ll get in any prepaid price plan for that monthly spend. We recommend a 2GB data allocation for average users at the moment, and Coles $20 plan includes 15GB.
- As you will see from our infographics below, Coles outperforms the competition on the key price points they have in market.
- Coles uses the Optus 4G Network. ALDImobile and Woolworths use a proportion of the Telstra Mobile network. In actual population coverage terms, there is very little difference between the networks that Coles, ALDImobile and Woolworths sell.
Getting the basics right about Coles’ Mobile offer
Coles Prepaid has actually been around for a while now. The plans they have in market are their second iteration. As a phone company, Coles don’t own the network; they are an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) that resells the Optus 3G and 4G network and their intention is quite clear. Coles have a huge number of value conscious shoppers come through their doors each week. Understandably, they want to use those visitors and their loyalty to secure more of what’s in their wallet. As a result (and following a precedent set by some supermarkets in the UK – notably, Tesco), Coles have joined Australia’s two other major grocers in selling prepaid phone plans.
Unlike other grocery prepaid phone plans, however, Coles is doing things a little differently. The primary unique selling point for Coles’ plans is the recharging frequency on their low end plan and the data inclusion on their mid tier plan.
There are a number of ways you can go about being a phone company. Coles have chosen the easiest. Coles service is essentially just Optus painted a different colour – except their plan lineup. Everything else from the packaging on the SIM, to the customer support you’ll get it exactly the same as Optus. To be clear on what this means – we bought and tested a service when reviewing Coles as we do for all of our plans and partners. Coles support is based in the Philippines. When you call Coles’ Customer Service, you are put through to an Optus customer service representative !
Great stuff about Coles Mobile Plans
Coles is a brand you can trust which is important buying any product. It’s especially important when you’re buying a SIM and you don’t want to risk losing service. All of Coles plans come with Unlimited Talk and Text. We also think Coles plans are good because :
- 15GB of data @ $20 for a 30-day plan :
Average usage is in the region of 2GB of 4G data. Having 15GB should provide more than enough data for an average user over a 30-day period.
- Long expiry plans available :
Not everyone needs a 30-day plan, and Coles know that. They 3 mobile plans, only one of which has a 30-day expiry – the other 2 plans have a 356-day expiry, so you’ll find a plan than suits your needs.
- Retail and online presence :
A lot of the drawback of having a prepaid service revolved around the convenience of recharging. Postpaid services (effectively) ‘recharge themselves.’ If you’re using a prepaid service, you need to be able to recharge easily or you’ll be without service for a while and no one likes that. Thankfully, you’re never far from a Coles, and even f you are, you can recharge online through the Coles Mobile App.
- AutoRecharge for peace of mind :
If having the options of recharging at a Coles store or online is still an inconvenience, then you can use their AutoRecharge option. This option recharges your Coles plan automatically so you don’t have to – just like a postpaid plan, but you’ll be charged at the beginning of each recharge.
- $5 and $15 for more data :
One of our concerns about being charged $10 for an extra GB of data when you run out ( the current industry standard ) is that you can have the extra added just before the end of the month and waste a lot of it. Coles charge you $5 for 500 MB, a different way of expressing the industry standard of $10 which is less likely to sting you in this way. We believe this is a much fairer approach. Coles also offer a $15 option for 3GB of extra data.
- Rollover data :
Coles now offer data rollover! Just recharge before your plan’s expiry (or remain on AutoRecharge) and any data you haven’t used will roll over to the next recharge, up to a maximum of 50GB.
- Options on International Minutes :
All of Coles’ prepaid plans include unlimited International SMS/MMS. Plans also include unlimited International calls to 15 selected countries. If you want to call other countries that aren’t included, Coles offer a $5 and $15 add-on for extra International minutes and premium services.
- Great 4G network :
As you’ll see from the infographic below. Coles are using a network which is equivalent to the other grocer alternatives.
- It’s basically Optus :
You’re getting the best of both Coles and Optus, in many ways. You can recharge conveniently ( even receiving FlyBuys 1 point per $ spent ) if you do. But you get the Optus coverage and experienced customer support if you contact them remotely.
Stuff that’s not so great about Coles Mobile Plans
- Crowded Optus resellers :
There are a lot of companies selling Optus’ network with their own price plans already. Coles need something special to stand out.
- Won’t get entertainment :
Entertainment options are now a part of many phone plans. If these or other value added services are important to you, Coles is not the provider you need.
Comparing Coles’ Network Coverage with the alternatives
The biggest question most people will have when comparing Coles and the alternatives from high street retailers is around network coverage. As we’ve said, Coles use the Optus 3G and 4G network. ALDImobile and Woolworths both use the Telstra Mobile Network, now with 4G. If that was all you needed to know, it would probably be quite clear. But that’s not all you need to know.
The Australian Optus 4G Plus network offers great coverage and connections to 97.3% of the Australian population, and their overall network covers 98.5% of the population at last count. From a landmass perspective, the Optus network provides coverage over a surface area of more than 1.2 million kilometers of land.
The key thing you need to understand when comparing these plans is that ALDImobile and Woolworths do not use the entire Telstra network. They use a portion of it. The coverage footprint is similar to the more than 1 million square Kilometers that Optus have.
You can see from the population coverage chart here that there are only 2-3% of people who will benefit from coverage under the ALDImobile plan. Unless you live in the most remote 2-3 % of the population, then, the chances are, Coles is just as good.
Coles use the Optus network, meaning 98.5% of Australians will get coverage on a Coles prepaid plan
Coles Customer Service
Coles prepaid services now come with an app, which has become a must-have in today’s day and age. The Coles Mobile App is a fully functional self-service app which you can use to check your usage, top up data and purchase extras, change your plan, find help and support, and more.
Activation messages for your service come from Optus. The Customer Information Statement, (which is a summary of all the call charges you’ll get with your plan and a legal requirement for your phone company to provide ), is housed on an Optus web page. Coles’ customer service really is a thin veneer over Optus’ existing infrastructure.
That said, the customer service we received from a Filipino team was perfectly good. There were no communication problems, the staff were friendly, efficient, and, importantly, knew they were dealing with a ‘Coles customer.’
In Conclusion – Coles add real value and alternatives in a complex market
Once you’re In the world of smaller phone companies, things become extremely competitive very quickly. There are already a lot of phone companies which resell the Optus 3G and 4G network. Amaysim, Vaya, Bendigo Bank, OVO Mobile and so on.
Coles Mobile prepaid plans, adds noise, a bit of heat and a small amount of incremental choice to the current deals on the market. But they do offer a couple of unique elements. A $20 plan with unlimited voice and SMS and more than enough data for an average user is market leading. Getting that same plan for just $10 on the first recharge based on their current promo is even better. These inclusions are all the more impressive when you consider the quality of the offering. By essentially repainting the Optus facilities they want, Coles offers customers a doubly whammy. They blend the convenience of a retail recharge using the high street branding we know and trust of Coles – and get the experienced telco customer service and coverage of Optus. It’s a clever combination and it ties in well with Coles’ reputation for affordability.
Naturally Coles Mobile have chosen to address the niche they know most about : Retail shoppers. They’ve also addressed the elephant in the room and taken themselves head to head with ALDImobile. Overall, the plans are worthwhile. If you meet the specification of the recommended buyer, get stuck in.