Telephone & mobile services
Consumers have rights when shopping for landline and mobile phone services. When choosing a phone provider you need to consider your usage patterns and compare prices and contracts.
Consider the answers to the following questions before signing a landline phone contract:
- how long is the contract and do you want to be locked in for that period? Are there any costs if you switch to another provider before the contract ends?
- is there a plan that offers an included amount of calls that would cover your usual usage?
- are there special discounts for calling people with the same company or at particular times?
- if you bundle your landline service with your internet and mobile phone service, will it save you money?
Before signing a mobile phone contract, it’s important to understand what kind of calls and services are included in your monthly allowance and which ones you will pay extra for. For example, some plans do not include voicemail messages or '13' numbers meaning you pay extra every time you use these services.
You also need to choose a network and handset that gives you the coverage you need.
Extra data that you use on your mobile phone can be expensive, so consider how much data you’ll need.
Consider the answers to the following questions before signing a mobile phone contract:
- does the contract include all the kinds of services you need, or will you pay extra for these every month? Does the plan include enough data for your needs?
- can you get the coverage you need? Some networks and handsets provide better coverage in rural and regional areas than others.
- would you prefer the flexibility of a pre-paid account that sets a value limit you can then top up as needed?
- are there fees for leaving the contract early to switch to another provider?
- if you bundle your service with your home internet or landline service, will it save you money? Are there any hidden costs in bundled services you’re considering?
Be aware of competitions or quizzes where you enter by sending an SMS to a ‘19’ number or entering your mobile number into a website. You might be unintentionally signing up to an expensive premium ‘subscription’ service where you have to pay an ongoing cost every week.
To immediately stop any premium service subscription, reply STOP to the sender.
More details about premium SMS, including the industry’s rules to protect consumers, can be found at the telecommunications industry’s 19SMS website.
Your mobile phone is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family while you are travelling overseas, but 'international roaming' can be much more expensive than using your phone at home. We offer some tips on keeping costs down when using your mobile overseas.
Hidden costs with phone cards
Phone cards may seem to offer cheaper rates for calling local and overseas destinations, but you need to be aware of extra fees and charges.
Before buying a phone card, read the details in the conditions and check for possible hidden costs, such as:
- a daily charge or fee after you first use the card, whether you use the card each day or not
- a connection and disconnection fee for each call
- extra charges for calls to mobile, 1300 or 1800 numbers.
Phone cards have a limited life and may expire before you get the chance to use all of the credit.
Also note that phone card calls often use internet technology resulting in sound quality that is not as good as what you might get on a landline.
Consumers have rights when they buy any product or service, including phones.
If there is a problem with your handset, you may be entitled to a repair, replacement or refund. If there is a problem with your service, you may be entitled to cancel it. You may also be entitled to compensation for damages and loss.
Phone providers must:
- provide clear and accurate information in advertising, contracts and bills
- give you help if you’re having problems paying bills and take steps before disconnecting your service
- provide good service and deal quickly with complaints
- ensure people who are hearing impaired or cannot communicate using voice have access to a fixed line service
- for landlines, set and meet timelines for connections, fault repairs and meetings with customers and pay compensation if they fail to meet those deadlines
- provide a repair, replacement, refund, compensation or cancellation, depending on the circumstances if the phone or service fails to meet one or more of the consumer guarantees.
Additional consumer protections
The Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code gives you rights to clear information and help if you’re struggling with bills.
The Customer Service Guarantee is a regulation that requires landline phone service providers to meet timelines for connections, fault repairs and meetings with customers and pay compensation if they fail to meet those deadlines.