Optus sending usage alerts to prevent bill shock

The number two telco has implemented a rule in the TCP code ahead of competitors.

Optus will start sending SMS text alerts to customers about data usage one year before required under the Telecommunications Consumer Protection (TCP) code. Vodafone plans to follow by the end of the year, the company's spokesman told Computerworld Australia.

The TCP code, which is to be phased in over 24 months starting tomorrow (1 Sept), is a set of voluntary industry guidelines that will be enforced by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. The code aims to protect customers from unexpected charges, sort out confusing mobile plans and improve handling of customer complaints.

Optus plans to immediately implement a rule in the code requiring telcos to send customers text messages when they reach 50, 85 and 100 per cent of their voice, text and data allowances. The rule doesn’t officially go into effect until September next year.

Also, Optus plans to send post-paid customers an alert every time they spend $100 on services not included in their cap, the telco said.

The announcement places Optus ahead of its competitors on implementing the rule.

"Vodafone will start to introduce SMS spend alerts by the end of this year," a Vodafone spokesperson said. "In the mean time, we recently introduced My Vodafone — an Android and iPhone app to help customers keep track of their usage, view their account details, see network updates and get help and support. The My Vodafone app has already been downloaded by more than 600,000 customers."

In addition to the alerts, Optus will soon offer “top ups” by SMS. A $5 top up provides $40 of additional value for calls and text, while a $10 top up provides $100. Customers seeking more data can buy 100MB, 500MB or 1GB packs for $2, $5 and $10, respectively.

“We understand our customers can get frustrated when they don’t know how much data or included value they’ve used and incur extra charges,” said Optus managing director of customer, Vicki Brady.

“These initiatives showcase Optus’ commitment to providing greater transparency to our customers and keeping them up to date with their monthly spend. By keeping our customers informed of their usage, along with charges incurred outside their mobile plan, we’re offering them more convenient and straightforward tools to help them control their mobile bills.”

Another rule in the TCP code, banning misleading claims in telco ads, takes effect tomorrow.

Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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