Broadband plan reviews

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06.Case study

CHOICE member Cameron Tree and his family are on Telstra Bigpond’s Elite Liberty ADSL2+ plan ($69.95/month), with a 12GB monthly data allowance and no excess usage charges. He pays a total of $99.90 per month, inclusive of home phone. When the Trees busted their 12GB allowance, he upgraded to 25GB and paid $119.90 per month. He used about 14GB, leaving 11GB unused.

“It’s really frustrating getting the data usage right,” says Cameron. We set out to find Cameron a cheaper bundle with ADSL2+ speed and peak data allowance of between 15GB and 20GB. We found three possible plans that offer good savings compared with his current broadband and home phone plan:

  • iiNet Broadband 2+ Home4 with VoIP bundle $69.90/month (15GB of peak data between 8am-2am, 10GB between 2am-8am). Savings: $30/month. Set-up fee: $79.95. Connection fee: $39. ($100 rebate on new modem for a 24-month contract).
  • Internode Home Fast 15 with home phone bundle $69.95/month (15GB – no time restrictions). Savings: $29.95/month. Connection fee: $0 for 24-month contract, $39 for one month contract). 
  • TPG ADSL2+ with VoIP bundle $50/month for 80GB (40GB of peak data between 8am-2.30am; 40GB off-peak data between 2.30am-8am). Savings: $49.90/month. Connection fee: $20 phone deposit. $59.95 for a 12-month contract; $0 for an 18-month term. The VoIP bundles include 500 free minutes for local and national calls to fixed phone lines. (Note: TPG offers VoIP only.)

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Double trouble

Brad, NSW: I'm signed on to an ADSL2+ broadband plan with Dodo. My Broadband deal stated that I had 20GB per month. If I exceeded that, my plan stated that I would be (a) charged extra for this additional usage up to a maximum additional cost of $40 and (b) after exceeding this additional maximum my service would be slowed from ADSL2+ speed to 64kbps.

Sure enough, one month I exceeded my download limit, however my speed was immediately slowed to 64kbps and I was still charged the maximum additional $40 cost once my additional usage took me up to the $40 limit. As a result I called my ISP and queried why I was imposed with both (a) the additional charge, and (b) the speed slow from the instant I exceeded my allocated 20GB. The ISP claimed it SHOULD HAVE only done one of the other, but in this case it did both! 

Dodo refunded me the $40 in good faith (luckily I knew better and queried the mix-up!) My suggestion to other Choice readers would be to (a) use an app like Quota or check usage on an online meter regularly, (b) have a data limit that is well over and above what you THINK you would use each month, and (c) choose a data plan that only SLOWS your usage after exceeding your data allowance (rather than charging obscene amounts for data usage in excess of your included usage). 

Telco bargain

John Borg: We were regularly going over our broadband limit on a monthly basis ($39.95 for 400MB) with BigPond. After comparing other ISP’s plans I called BigPond in October 2009 to advise that I would close our account. The customer service officer was very courteous and said he could arrange this and asked why I wanted to do so. I told him that BigPond’s charges were too expensive. He told me that a new plan has just been announced and he could change our plan over at no extra cost and pay the same rate each month for a higher limit ($39.95 for 2GB). I accepted this however made sure that if I found that I was not happy with the new plan that I would be able to close the account with no penalties.

So far this increased limit has worked well however it makes me wonder: if I did not call BigPond would we have continued to pay the same price for a much lower limit without being advised of this new plan?

No choice = Shonky service

Peter Campbell, QLD: We're with Activ8 satellite broadband, as we live only 5km from the centre of Gympie (Qld), it is the only way we are able to access broadband internet. We're on a shaped plan, so the minute we exceed our download limit it slows to dial'-up speed unless you choose to "top-up" at exorbitant rates. The difference between the 1 GB plan ($49) and the next plan( 2GB $69) is very expensive and so it really doesn't give you reasonable choices.

What upsets me most though is the contemptible way in which some service providers, including Activ8, treat their customers. Their customer support is atrocious and I just do not understand the ethics of Australian companies who treat their customers so badly. This week I have spent over two hours trying to contact them on three separate occasions about connection problems. I only managed to get through to them on one occasion after a 50-minute wait. The next time, after being on hold for over 30 minutes, I found myself back at the main menu and had to start the whole process again. After another 10 minutes, my cordless phones battery went flat and so I lost the connection. On the third occasion I phoned at 5.30pm Queensland time. After being on hold for over 30 minutes listening to the same message over and over, I received a message that the office was now closed and I would have to phone back during business hours. It beggers belief that companies can treat their customers with such contempt. You can email "support", which I have done on a number of occasions, however I have yet to receive a reply to an email I have sent requesting assistance. Unfortunately we have no other options and so we are forced to accept such nonsense.

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