Problems With Telstra’s New Plan Range

Problems With Telstra's New Plan Range

Telstra’s recent refresh is not all good news

Telstra recently announced an overhaul to all postpaid plans. The news brought some goodies ranging from no lock-in contracts and no data overages on all plans. Customers can now also switch plans once a month and add a phone to month-to-month plans, as well as choose between 24 and 36 months for paying off devices.

Earlier in the year, Telstra also revamped its Prepaid Max plan with goodies of its own, including the introduction of a data bank. Both announcements further Telstra’s T22 plan which aims at simplifying phone plans and increasing flexibility. Despite the fair treatment evident in some of the telco’s new plans, along with the newfound simplicity and flexibility, they just might not cut it for a lot of customers.

In axing a number of plans – and we mean over a thousand – you can expect the fact that not everyone is going to be pleased with what has been left out. The quest for simplicity, in Telstra’s view, means breaking down its SIM only month-to-month plans to just four options:

  • Small – 15GB of data and unlimited talk and text;
  • Medium – 60GB of data and unlimited talk and text;
  • Large – 100GB of data and unlimited talk and text;
  • Extra Large – 150GB of data and unlimited talk and text.

They range from $50 to $100. There are a couple of things wrong with these plans, particularly the data distribution among them and the fact that International roaming is no longer included with any plan at all.

Telstra’s attempt at flexibility falls short with data inclusions 

Despite its claim of flexibility, as well as the obvious fact that its plans are much simpler now, Telstra’s new data inclusions seem to include an obvious marketing trick.

The data inclusion difference between its Small and Medium plans sticks out like a sore thumb. The Small includes 15GB of data for $50 while the Medium includes 60GB of data for $60. You might have to look at this twice to actually believe its true.

The obvious ploy here is to push the customer to the higher priced plan, especially in today’s world where data seems so important to the Australian customer. Telstra is banking on this fact, and isn’t shy about it. However, the obvious nature of the trick might be a turn off for the customer who realizes that there are a number of other telcos – especially MVNOs – out there that provide better data inclusions for less. Such a turn off should be expected, given Australian’s desire that telcos simply treat them fairly.

Telstra does provide some additional perks though:

  • Free 5G access until June 30
  • No data overages with ‘Peace of Mind’ data that throttles your speeds down to 1.5Mbps when data is exhausted.

But even these perks aren’t really perks at all. After all, Telstra’s 5G network isn’t widespread yet as it’s only available in select areas. Further, the freebie ends by June 30, after which the customer is charged an additional $15 per month to continue on the 5G network. For the Large and Extra Large plans, though, the 5G network remains at no additional cost, even after the June 30.

Further, most people really have no idea what it means when Telstra says your data will be limited to 1.5Mbps. It sounds great because having Internet access, regardless of speed, is better than not having any at all and certainly better than overage charges.

data speed

Almost 60 percent of Australians don’t know what it means when telcos say their data will be limited to 1.5Mbps.

But in reality, as far as the ‘Peace of Mind’ data goes, who would want a throttled 1.5Mbps speed connection on a 5G network? That simply defeats the purpose. What’s even worse is the fact that there are no unlimited plans for the data heavy user to enjoy an unchained 5G experience without having to worry about that eventual 1.5Mbps crawl speed on a 5G network.

All in all, Telstra has made enough changes to its plans to boast of simplicity, and that’s no lie by any means – the plans are certainly simpler. However, they leave a lot to desire for a lot of customers who can easily find what they’re looking for elsewhere.

No more International and roaming inclusions 

It doesn’t stop at the tricky data questions – Telstra has also stripped its plans of International inclusions. That’s right, regardless of how much you spend and what plan you choose, you will no longer be able to find one with International inclusions. Instead, you now have to shell out $10 per month for International calls and texts.

What exactly does this $10 per month get you? Unlimited calls and text to 20 countries. So rather than have that already come with your plan, you now have to purchase it separately regardless of how expensive your plan is.

It doesn’t stop there though – roaming also comes with additional charges. This time, travelers will have to shell out $10 per day ($5 for those who travel to New Zealand) to roam overseas, whereas such an inclusion was part of prior Telstra plans.

What does this $10 per day get you? Unlimited calls and texts in 70 eligible countries and a paltry 200Mb of data. That’s right, 200Mb! The data allowance is particularly surprising, given that today’s travelers depend so much on data for a number of reasons ranging from directions to get around town as well as suggestions, and updates on their various social media apps. It’s just hard to imagine 200Mb cutting it.

If you happen to need more than 200Mb – which you likely will – an additional 500Mb will be added for an additional $10 once its exhausted. Another unpleasant cost.

smartphone leasing

Perhaps what’s most questionable about this part of it all is the fact that these daily $10 roaming packs are based on Australian Eastern Standard Time regardless of where you travel to. Your day gets triggered the moment you make or receive a call or text or use any data, but then it expires 24 hours later based on Australian time regardless of where you are. This will likely be very confusing.

Understanding what customers really want 

So far, the issues listed are what customers really want to be addressed – what they really understand. Telstra, on the other hand, seems to be marketing perks that customers really don’t understand.

We’ve already touched on the fact that almost 60 percent of Australians have no idea what it means when a telco says it’ll throttle data speeds down to 1.5Mbps. This is the whole idea behind the ‘Peace of Mind’ data marketing message that Telstra uses to boast of its no data overage perk, and its customers have no idea what they are even talking about. This obviously can’t be good for the telco.

Another lapse in understanding of what’s advertised is Telstra’s new 24- or 36- month lease options. In general, customers really have no idea what this means for them either. Take a look below.

Perhaps Telstra should refocus its plan revamps to what customers really understand – what they really care about and want. For example, better data inclusions that don’t make customers feel as if they are being forced to upgrade to more expensive plans, and leaving things like International and roaming inclusions in plans – especially the costlier ones.

Final words – Telstra’s plans need some more work 

Telstra’s plans are a classic case of “You can’t please everybody”. But then again, the telco’s refresh here doesn’t seem to try very hard to do that either. Yes, there are a lot of perks in the idea of no lock-in contracts, adding your phone to month-to-month plans, adding a 24 and 36 months device payment option, and scrapping data overages. But then the obvious marketing ploy evident in the differences between data inclusions in its Small and Medium plans seem quite petty. So petty that customers will likely sniff it out as unfair and explore elsewhere.

This is especially likely where “elsewhere” does in fact present some greener pasture. Take ALDImobile for example, a reseller of the Telstra network. They offer 14GB of data for $25, along with unlimited call and text. Compare that to Telstra’s 15GB for $50. In fact, for $5 less than Telstra’s Small plan, ALDImobile will give you 22GB more data – $45 for 37GB. These same ALDImobile plans also have an International inclusion with unlimited calls and texts to 15 countries, where Telstra has completely scrapped that idea and replaced it with an additional fee. What’s even more baffling is that Telstra’s Prepaid Max plan offers a total of 43GB (bonus included) for the same $50 cost of its month-to-month Small plan.

Yes, Telstra has simplified its former mammoth-sized list of plans. Yes, you now have more options and flexibility in customizing your plans. But too much seems to have been lost along the way, and customers are bound to notice. The competitive nature of today’s telco market is just too fierce – there are way too many options out there for Telstra’s plans to not be better than they are. Perhaps more revamps are underway because this current update leaves way too much on the table.

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.