Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Optus experience - summary

As regular readers might have picked up, I've switched my mobile phone to Optus Prepaid. It's been a somewhat bumpy ride with cunningly hidden information, well-meaning but mostly clueless customer service staff, and the inevitable spam. If you have the time to read it all, please do:

To sum up:

Optus My Prepaid daily
  • Prepaid semi-flat rate plan based on daily usage. The first outgoing standard national call, SMS, MMS, or data use triggers the basic daily rate of $ 1.00. After 30 mins of talk, or 40 MB of data, that daily rate automatically jumps to $ 1.50, giving you unlimited talk, and another 40 MB of data (SMS / MMS are unlimited with the intial $ 1.00).

  • Once the extra 40 MB are also used up, increments of $ 0.50 / 50 MB are added, up to a total of $ 5.00 for the day. After that, you can obtain additional data blocks at $ 2.00 / 200 MB and $ 5.00 / 500 MB, but you must actively purchase them, they're not automatically added, so you keep in control of just how much you spend.

  • Non – standard items like international messaging, international calls, etc, are charged by the item.

  • If you use a lot of data, you might wanna look at My Prepaid Daily Plus, where the initial flat rate of $ 2.00 gives you 500 MB (as well as unlimited standard national calls), and another $ 2.00 adds an extra 524 MB, leaving you with 1 GB for $ 4.00, plus all the national voice calls, SMS, and MMS you want.

The Good
  • The plan itself seems to suit my particular usage pattern; days with no use whatsoever (yes, that happens) won't cost me anything, the daily cost for standard national stuff (talk, messages, a little data) seems acceptable, international rates seem surprisingly reasonable, and roaming, although expensive, is available if necessary.

  • The web site is easy to use, most (but not all) information can be found without too much trouble, support (although not always helpful) is easily available via the prominent Live Chat feature.

  • Sales assistant at the Parramatta store is friendly efficient, and at least to some degree, seems to know what she's doing

  • Once set up, the service works as expected

  • Online account provides a good overview of the account status, credit, usage, as well as easy access to account settings and extras

  • Account status info via basic text message (that therefore works on even the oldest of phones) provides comprehensive summary of current usage, credit, and remaining talk / data

The Bad
  • Roaming rates are obscenely expensive

  • Although the plan boasts a 6 months expiry of credit, it turns out that in order to keep the service active, the account must actually be recharged at least 30 days before credit expires

  • Some information is more difficult to find than necessary. Some relevant parts are not directly linked from the product page

  • After the plan has been set up and activated, the online account to actually manage your plan must be set up separately

  • Online account does not show data usage

  • No mention of, or reference to, the settings required for MMS. You have to find your own way to the page where you can request these settings to be sent to your phone. Go to Support, search for MMS settings. That brings up (at least at the time I'm writing this) the APNS & technical settings. This page lists all the settings you could ever want, and also provides a link to the online tool where you can select the make and model of your phone and have the settings you're after sent to your device. As a side note; the settings page warns, under the details for streaming, that videos and TV can use large amounts of data, and advises to "monitor your usage thru My Account - where, as stated above, the MB usage is not listed!

  • Usage details not available as csv file (print (to any printer, including PDF) is available)

The downright ugly
The extent of complete and utter incompetence and indifference you're likely to encounter both face to face (Merrylands shop, I'm talking about you) and via the Live Chat support channel is something to behold. Be prepared that perfectly ordinary questions that one would expect to be part of those people's everyday work are probably going to be met with an absolute inability to even point you in the right direction. If you ever need to explain the term "Stunned Mullet to someone, just take them to an Optus store, ask the staff a simple question, and observe.

The end
So there you have it. A product that's appealing enough to lure me away from Telstra; a relatively smooth transition; some extremely useless customer service staff spoiling the, well, customer experience somewhat; and some serious doubts about Optus' hiring policies.

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