Mobile phone costs, top ups, and offers and gaming CallCosts.ie

In a recent article for the Irish News of the World, I was looking at the cost of sending texts. As I’ve highlighted for many of the articles I’ve written, the multitude of different offers and pricing models across many consumer products such as texting almost seems to be an intentional effort on the part of service providers to make any comparisons impossible across companies.

It’s therefore impossible to compare like with like, and this just shows how difficult a job it is for CallCosts.ie to provide an accurate picture.

Take, for example, the top up offers currently advertised by the mobile providers on their website:

  • Vodafone – Get 20% bonus credit when you top up by €30 or more here
  • O2 – 10% extra when you top up by €30
  • Meteor – no direct offers available on their website at the moment
  • Three – no direct offers available on their website at the moment
  • Tesco Mobile – top up by €10 and get €10 free, top up by €20 and get €20 free and top up by €30 and get €30 free.

It should be noted that many of these offers have some catchy small print included that should be checked before assuming everything is straightforward. For example, free top up credit can’t always be carried over from month to month and your paid credit is always used first before your free credit.

Using the CallCosts.ie website to try to work out the cheapest way to send texts is an example of the wide variety in packages avaialble to customers – for example, as can be seen above, mobile operators seem reluctant to provide the same top up value offers, nor provide the same numbers of inclusive minutes or texts.

Its also well known within the mobile industry that the CallCosts.ie website can be “gamed” – that is, it’s known what combinations of free texts, or add-on text bundles or minutes bundles, can be made available on any of their standard packages to try to get them to the top of the CallCosts comparison listings for best value.

And the CallCosts.ie website clearly states that this is possible, so why wouldn’t the mobile companies, take advantage of that:

From the Model Assumptions section of the CallCosts.ie website, Assumption regarding add-ons and pre-paid discounts:

In providing a result, callcosts.ie assumes the user will choose tariffs/payment options and features available which if availed of can lower their costs.

Consequently, callcosts.ie will calculate if a top-up discount or a tariff add-on feature can lower the cost to the user and, if so, indicate whether this feature has been included in the calculation when providing a result.

It is assumed that the user will purchase the add-on or will top up by the required minimum top-up level in order to avail of the benefit.  Please note a top-up discount will only apply where the users spend level passes the initial threshold at which the top up discount becomes available.

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