After two and a half years of development, Optus mobile customers will soon be able to view their call and data usage in near real time, the telco announced today.
One of the biggest customer service issues plaguing the industry is "bill shock", where post-paid customers have no idea how much they have spent on a mobile plan until the bill arrives. Many Optus customers experienced bill shock after the release of the first iPhone. The phone used a lot of mobile data, which many people had not accounted for when they chose their plan.
Speaking at the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) national conference in Sydney this morning, Optus director of government and corporate affairs, Maha Krishnapillai, announced that Optus was moving to address this.
"One of the big challenges we have in the industry is getting real-time data, particularly when you're overseas, but also because of the interconnected nature of our industry. We've been working on this particular issue for 2.5 years now," he said. "Today, we're about to announce we're going to put in place near real-time alerts on international roaming and near real-time alerts on all data usage."
Optus had been trialling a new SMS notification system for around a month, where Optus customers who approach 80 per cent of their cap or data limit will receive an SMS alert, and again when they reach 100 per cent. Customers who use data when roaming overseas will receive an SMS notification informing them that they are roaming, and may incur higher costs within an hour of first use. Krishnapillai said that this feature had been available for some time voluntarily, but it will now be mandatory for Optus customers.
"You'll get an alert. 'You are now about to use data roaming'. That has been possible if you set it up yourself through our IT systems online. We're now going to make that mandatory, effectively."
For customers who continue to use data roaming after this initial notification, they will also receive additional notifications at every 15MB of usage.
Post-paid customers locally will also receive an alert if they spend $20 or more on services outside of their cap, such as premium SMS or international calls.
Although the systems behind this announcement had taken the company a number of years to develop, Krishnapillai did not reveal how much it had cost the telco to be able to move to real-time reporting.