Telcos’ prepaid data swindle

A number of Australian communication companies are rounding up data sessions of pre-paid mobile users to the nearest megabyte. Drew explains what this means and which providers to avoid.

Each time you use the internet, download an app, access Facebook or send a tweet on your mobile phone, you are using up kilobytes of your available data download. Some of these sessions, such as sending a tweet on the social network Twitter, can use up as little as four kilobytes. To put that into perspective, there are 1024 kilobytes in a megabyte.

A recent article in The Age has revealed that several of Australia’s largest telcos have built into their pre-paid contracts the right to round up your data session to the nearest megabyte. The worst offenders are Amaysim, Woolworths Mobile, Boost Mobile and Kogan, whose mobile pre-paid plans all round up to the nearest megabyte, while Telstra and Optus both have one plan each (the other plans charge in 1kilobyte increments) which rounds up to the nearest megabyte.

Vodafone, which currently charges in 25, 50 or 1000 kilobyte increments, has announced that it will stop this practice from 13 February 2013 and it will charge in one kilobyte increments from there on.

There is no doubt in my mind that this practice, which has flown under the radar of consumers and regulators for some time, is just another way for the telcos to make the consumer spend a little bit extra every time they recharge.