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Optus tackles bill shock with mobile alerts

Optus will begin alerting its customers about how much of their allowance they have used in an effort to prevent bill shock.
Written by Michael Lee, Contributor on

Optus will now alert post-paid customers when they reach certain levels of mobile usage in a bid to help them manage their spending and avoid bill shock.

The company announced the new text-alert service today, which will inform users when they reach 50 per cent, 85 per cent and 100 per cent of their voice, text and data allowances.

"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," managing director of Optus' Customer Division Vicki Brady said.

For services that aren't included in customer allowances, such as premium SMSes and international calls, Optus will provide alerts at each AU$100 interval.

Customers that are using international roaming in other countries will also be alerted within about an hour of reaching their usage thresholds, and will be regularly reminded of how much they have used.

Optus' alerts system is similar to the proposed standard that the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is developing over the next 12 months to alert users of roaming charges. The standard will lay out the requirements for carriers on providing customers with information on call, text and data charges when they land in a foreign country and begin roaming.

Today also marks the day when the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code will be registered by the ACMA, according to the organisation's chair, Chris Chapman, who spoke at the Charles Todd Oration in Sydney yesterday. It will result in the code coming into effect tomorrow, and will mean that telcos will be banned from advertising using misleading words such as "cap" or "unlimited" when the end product actually isn't capped or unlimited.

While the code also contains the requirement for telcos to implement spend-management tools, which are aimed at curbing bill shock, these don't need to be implemented by larger telcos like Telstra and Optus until September 2013.

Smaller mobile operators, including resellers like Red Bull and iiNet, won't be required to have these spend-management tools in place until September 2014. This gives the smaller companies more breathing room, but Amaysim and iiNet have said that they are already prepared and don't need the extra time.

Optus is also offering Bridge DataRoam Unlimited packs, which provides unlimited data roaming in eight Asian countries.

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