Tag Archives | Mobile Phone Costs

How to understand your texting options

Irish News of the World

May, 2009

Diarmuid MacShane

Text Message Confusion

Do you know how many text messages you send each month? How much is your texting habit costing you?

In 2008, ComReg said that Irish people sent almost 25m text messages every day – that’s up from 9m in 2004. That’s over 9bn text messages sent in one year.

Across the 5 mobile phone companies operating in Ireland at the moment (Vodafone, O2, Meteor, Three and Tesco) there are almost 30 different ways you can be charged for sending a text. If I didn’t know better, I might think that these companies are purposely trying to confuse us.

Most of these companies will provide packages that will either charge you per text, or depending on how much you spend per month, will provide you with “inclusive texts”. These inclusive texts are mainly available on monthly post pay contracts, varying from 30 with Meteor to 2850 on certain Three contracts.

Text Costs

If you’re paying by individual text, the cheapest company at the moment is Three who charge a promotional offer of 3c per text until the end of June on their 3Pay package. The Three Pay Monthly contract will cost you from 6c to 8c per text.

All the other mobile companies will charge you from 9c on monthly contract phones to 13c on pre-paid phones to send a text message.

The craziest thing about all these text message charges is that they cost the mobile phone companies less than a fraction of a cent to carry a text message, so they’re making huge profits on each text we pay for.

Optional Extras

There are two extra features to watch out for when checking out how much a text message might cost you.

Firstly, most mobile companies now offer free text messages if you’re sending messages between people on the same network.

Secondly, most of the companies will now also provide text bundles or add-ons where you can buy an extra allocation of text each months for up to €10 and sometimes more. These will give you an extra number of text messages each month that normally bring down the average cost – down to 4.5c to 7.5c across all the networks.

Free Texts

O2, Vodafone and Meteor all provide 250 to 300 free text messages to their customers on their websites. For people who work regularly on computers, or have home computers, there is a saving of up to €30 per month available here by using these free texts.

If you have an iPhone or an iPod Touch, you can use an Apple App Store application called EirText that will allow you send text messages from your free text allocation while you’re on the move.

The application is free and if you’re connecting over the O2 network, you will have to pay the data costs. However, if you’re using a WiFi connection you have no costs at all.

Finding Out More

Given the complexity of the numerous mobile phone packages available, if you want to find the best offer available at the moment, the place to go is the ComReg website www.callcosts.ie.

As an example, if you send 300 texts per month and don’t make any phone calls at all, then the best value overall, where all your texts are “free” is to go with Tesco Mobile (assuming you top by €30 in one go).

Next best is the O2 Experience More pre-paid package where you must top up by €20 per month.

Using the www.callcosts.ie website, you can either check out the best value package if you’re thinking of changing of changing your mobile provider. You can also use it to compare your current package with others that are out there to make sure you’re getting the best value possible.

Savings

If you send an average of 10 texts per day for the month, your text costs alone could be costing you anything from €0 to €39 per month depending on the mobile company you’re with and the phone package that you’re on. If you make the switch from the highest to the lowest package, you could be saving yourself over €450 per year.

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Comparing Ireland to France when thinking of moving home

I received this e-mail a little while ago from someone who was in the process of moving home to Ireland from France. They’d done significant research on the impact to their pocket of moving home when it came to their bills and shopping. (Before the last budget, mind you). Here’s the problems they found they’d be encountering when moving home:

I’d like to contact you to offer both my compliments and thanks to your site.

I’m moving back to Ireland after spending five years abroad – four of them in France and one of them in the UK. I’ve been planning the move back since November and found your site in December, and have been following the posts on the site since then. It’s provided a wealth of valuable information for me. I thought I’d share some thoughts about French and Irish prices, from the point of view of an average Joe, rather than a columnist in the paper. After all, the EU is supposed to be about the freedom of goods, single market, better competition and all that jazz.

France is a strange place for consumer pricing. Some areas see fierce competition, while others, for example the taxi industry, remain expensive and regularly.

Home telecom and internet sees, in my opinion, the best competition with excellent prices available.I am with a company called free who provide me with telephone, internet and television for 29.99 per month. There are hundreds of stations to choose from, the internet is 24mb speed with no download cap, and the phone calls to most EU and several international landlines are completely free. In comparison one of the best similar deals I can find in Ireland is with ChrousNTL, which will cost me 77 euro a month, and won’t include free EU or international calls – with close family in the US, UK and Spain as well as Ireland, this will be a disappointing drop in value. Not only will the base cost be more than double what I’m paying here, I will still need to factor in the cost of calls to the aforementioned countries.

Next up with have electricity. Electricity in France is reasonably priced, and that’s even with the default company, EDF. My current scheme runs on a yearly basis – I pay a fixed fee every month from my bank based on average usage for 11 months of the year, then it’s tallied at the 12th month. According to my last paper bill in August 2008, the origin of the previous year’s electricity was 87% Nuclear, 7.1% renewables of which 5.7% was hydro electric, 3.7% carbon, 3.2% gas, 1.5% fuel and 0.3% others. Wiki tells me that high % of nuclear power is a result of the 1973 oil crisis badly affecting the country. So, let’s see what sort of cost all that nuclear energy gives consumers.

Usage
August 2005 – August 2006: 2149 kWh – Cost: €300 approx – harder to calculate as EDF was still linked with gas bill and I had gas on the same bill.
August 2006 – August 2007: 2393 kWh – Cost: €318.09
August 2007 – August 2008: 2614 kWh – Cost: €346
August 2008 – August 2009: 2592 kWh – Cost: €360- obviously this is based on presumed usage, but I’m paying for this figure on a monthly basis at any rate.

These include the unit rate, and each year I’ve paid 12-14 euro for other fees.

My bill states that I pay just over 7 cent a unit, but the price plan i’m on seems to be represent the actual price of about  €0.1350 cent a unit. Not that much cheaper than the ESB clocking in at €0.1640 – yet the difference adds up; for my current estimate of usage it would be €425.08 with the ESB for the electricity alone.however this doesn’t include the standing charge, which makes no appearance on a French bill. This is approximately €0.28602 including vat (all my prices include vat, and on French sites TTC indicates vat included) for a year this amounts to another €104.39, bringing the total bill to €529.47 with ESB We are surrounded by wind and waves that could provide a cheaper and sustainable source of electricity…
On this note, I gather prices will drop; I noticed a large series of campaigns by Bord Gais about bringing cheaper energy to the market.

Mobile phone – here’s one where Ireland beats France, but where the UK stands ahead. I’ve included the UK  Offers there trump France and Ireland by a long shot. I’ve included them as I’ve lived there in the past, and have family there to compare deals with. I checked out the following links in anticipation of moving back for a phone I’ve fancied, and posted the best deals I could find in each country for a mix of text and minutes.

UK contracts for LG U990 touchscreen phone:

1) Free phone – 100 minutes and unlimited texts per month, £20 a month for 18 months with 3 telecom.

OR

2)
Free phone – 400 minutes and 500 texts, £29.37/month but 7 month free rebate means it averages at £17.95 per month for 18 months with o2

Ireland contracts for same phone with 3 telecom.

€149 phone – 90 mins OR 270 texts, €19 a month for 12 months
or
€129 phone – 150 mins OR 450 texts, €29 a month for 12 months

As you can see, you receive a lot more in the UK. Against France, Ireland wins out. The offers here are many and convoluted, especially with Orange. The same phone on a 1 year contract with Orange France costs 79 euro and has several contract methods. €18 a month contract gets you 40 minutes to mobiles and national numbers, or “unlimited texts” between 1600 and 2000. €21 gets you 60 minutes or “unlimited texts” between 1600 and 2000. The issue is the texts aren’t unlimited – you can convert your minutes to a fixed block of texts, 150 and 180 respectively. Higher packages similiarly yield more poor results.

Groceries – sadly I left my notepad in Ireland with the prices I had mentioned, So I can’t comment too much here. For an overall feel of prices, I’ve found France cheaper in general for all goods such as day to day shopping, or things from the electronics section in the supermarket. Without the exact prices to hand, I noted that for store brand produce, the prices were very close between Ireland and France for standard supermarkets (Dunnes Stores, Tesco, etc against Auchan, Carreforre), but for branded goods the differences showed. I’m pretty certain the difference in innocent fruit smoothy was almost two euro.

I guess none of that will matter too much to me as I will be shopping at Aldi/Lidl to minimise costs as much as possible.

Anyway, enough ranting from me, thanks for the great site and keep up the good work.

Makes for some interesting reading, doesn’t it. We’re being told that we now have competitive electricity and mobile phone markets, yet we’re not seeing the type of offers and discounts that you could get in either the UK or France.

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Mobile Phone Taxes and Charges

Irish News of the World

Sunday March 15th, 2009

Diarmuid MacShane

Mobile Phone Taxes and Charges

Times are tough all round, with little chinks of light every so often – such as the recent 0.5% drop in mortgage rates. We were told by the Government recently that we’re going to have an emergency budget in early April and signs are that we’re going to be taxed more and experience greater government spending cutbacks.

In the spirit of sharing the responsibility (and the blame?), Fianna Fail and the Greens have opened things up to the other political parties to suggest what they think can be done to improve our lot. Yet it was a member of the Green party who came up with one of the more ridiculous taxation ideas in some time.

In the past couple of weeks, the Green Party Deputy Leader suggested that the Government could impose a 1c tax on every text message sent. This isn’t as original an idea as you might think though. Last December, the residents of Sacramento in the United States voted to impost a tax of 7% on text messages, as well as landline and mobile calls, and even calls over the internet.

However, never mind that Ms. White spectacularly got her numbers wrong – by about €1.3bn in fact – she’s actually going after the wrong people if it ever came to a tax on text messages.

If the Government want to tax text messages, they should tax the network providers. Did you know that it costs effectively nothing for you to send a text message that your mobile provider is charging you between 5c and 12c to send? If there is to be a tax on texts, let the networks pay for it out of their text message profits.

Since I’m talking about mobile phone costs, there have been several developments recently that should help you cut down on your mobile phone costs. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I have recently cut €30 per month off my monthly bill, yet I haven’t changed my usage.

With belts being tightened, it’s being reported in many mobile markets that customers are switching from a mobile phone contract to a pay-as-you-go or pre-paid arrangement with their service provider.

Three of the five Irish mobile companies have come up with new combination type products recently to capture this change in the market – a set monthly pre-paid amount like a monthly contract that can be extended if you wish like, like pay as you go.

Meteor launched a product called Bill Pay Lite where you commit to paying €10 per month. For this, you get 60 minutes included, and free Meteor to Meteor texts, and you only have to commit for a minimum of 30 days.

Three launched a similar product called Best of Both where you pay €25 per month for 100 minutes to any network, 100 minutes to other Three customers and free texts to anyone.

Finally, the O2 Clear plans allow you for as low as €20 per month you will get 50 any network minutes and 50 any network texts. You must sign up for a 12 month contract, but you can break this free of charge with 30 days notice.

Apart from the value available, the beauty of these new products is that you’re tied to a particular company for only 1 month maximum. If you see a better deal elsewhere, then you can move at the end of the month – obviously while keeping your own number.

If you’re a pre-paid customer at the moment, it’s simple to switch providers. Just go along to one of their stores, and you’ll be signed up and ported over in no time.

And what if you’re a pay monthly customer at the moment? Normally, to cancel your contract you will have to pay the remaining commitment to your mobile company as compensation for breaking the contract. If you want to switch plans for the same company, you could just ring them to see if they might give you a deal or discount – no harm in haggling or negotiating.

Otherwise, if you want to move immediately, the cheapest way to do it is to move to the lowest cheapest plan your mobile company provides, and then cancel your contract. Your payout to them will then be as little as possible.

So how much can you save?

The average monthly spend of a pay monthly customer in Ireland ranges from €70 to €100 depending on the mobile company. Anyone moving to even the most expensive of these new types of plans could save themselves a huge amount of money depending on their usage – up to €900 per year if you’re careful.

Even pre-paid customers, with an Irish average monthly spend of between €25 and €35 depending on their mobile company, could save up to €300 per year if they were to switch and stick to the minutes and texts provided in these plans.

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Ryanair Mobile “It’s your choice whether you want to use it or not”

Before we get the usual suspects giving out about the pricing of the Ryanair onboard mobile phone service, Michael O’Leary came up with the perfect comment that should head off any complaints about the high costs of the new service:

It’s your choice whether you want to use it or not.

The article linked above says that customers will be charged up to 50c for texts messages and from €2 to €3 per minute for a call. If you want to send e-mails from your smart phone it’ll cost you between €1 and €2 depending on your operator. Like roaming, you’ll be charged to receive calls but not texts.

This is the equivalent of a luxury service for mobile phone users. It’s not essential – it hasn’t been essential for the past 10 to 15 years, so it’s not essential now.

This is simply a money making stream for Ryanair. It’s up to consumers whether or not they’re willing to avail of the service, but please please don’t go bleating to Joe Duffy about the high costs if you get caught out with a large bill because you got carried away on a flight, or enjoyed the duty free too much and decided some drunken onboard texts or calls would be some fun.

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I want to save money on my mobile bills. Any ideas?

Irish News of the World

February 15th, 2009

Diarmuid MacShane

Mobile Switching Savings

In the past, ValueIreland.com has provided its readers with many Top Tips on how to reduce your mobile phone bill. I followed these tips myself in the last couple of weeks and managed to get my bill reduced by about €30 per month.

I was with O2 and checked around all the other companies – Meteor, Three, and Vodafone – to see if I could get a better deal – I even considered going from Pay Monthly to Pay as You Go (with Tesco).

Despite it’s popularity, I found the CallCosts.ie website pretty useless. Like a lot of people these days, a big proportion of my bill is now data related and the website can’t cater for that.

In the end, it was actually just a different package with O2 that got me exactly what I needed for voice, texts and data.

When you’re checking your usage and the packages available, make sure you consider going for a lower tariff than you think you might need and boosting it with add-ons rather than going for the bigger tariff.

Add-ons can be added and removed on a monthly basis without changing your contract, where as if you end up with a tariff that’s too big for your needs, you may either have to pay a charge to get to a lower tariff, or you’ll just have to stick it out till the end of the year because of contract terms and conditions.

Check out here for more.

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How to cut your mobile phone bill costs

[This article refers to TopTips.ie which I gave up as no longer necessary – instead, you can click on the ValueIreland Top Tips page.]
How much are you spending on your mobile phone per month? Do you know? Where is your biggest usage – is it on calls, text messages or on data charges?

Here are a few Top Tips on how to save yourself some money on your mobile phone bill. These Top Tips should work whether you have a pre-pay or post-pay mobile phone, and no matter which network you use.

Become aware of your usage – Most of the mobile phone companies will provide you with a break down of your monthly usage – either through a paper bill, or through online reporting. Study the breakdown of your usage to see where exactly you’re spending the most money.

Don’t change without thinking – Many of the Top Tips below will suggest that you could change your contract with your mobile phone provider. Be aware, that any time you change your contract with your phone provider, they will sign you up for another years contracts. This might not be what you want, so always be sure of the consequences of what you ask your mobile provider to do.

Change your tariff – Depending on the analysis in the first step, you should first check your service providers website to see if you should be on a more suitable tariff. This could mean less minutes, or more texts included – or potentially moving to pre-pay if you’re a post pay client. Also, you should ring your mobile phone service provider to see if they can recommend a more suitable tariff or add-on that would give you better value for money.

Use CallCosts.ie Though I’ve heard reasons enough to be dubious about the effectiveness of this service, it does seem to be a fairly accurate and useful tool. Based on your mobile usage (minutes and texts), CallCosts.ie can suggest if other mobile service providers might provide a better package than your current provider.

Use your full package – If you have a package of minutes and texts from your mobile provider, make sure you use the maximum every month – especially if your service provider doesn’t allow minutes and texts to roll over until the next month. If you find you don’t use your allocation every month, change your tariff.

Use the freebies on offer – There are mobile service providers who provide free minutes and texts with contract sign-ups, while others provide “phone a friend for free” offers. Make sure you follow up on these offers and take advantage of as many of those as you can.

What are your friends doing – Following on from the points above, check to see what network your friends on? Based on some of the offers available with regards to phoning friends for free and cheaper calls and texts between networks, it can be cheaper for you if all your friends are on the same network.

Use online text messaging – If you’re with a mobile phone company that provides a bunch of mobile text messages online for free, use them as much as possible. If you’re in a job with access to a computer, then use that during the day rather than texting on your phone. If you have broadband and use your laptop in the evening, then that’s the time to text online also.

Stay within your network – where possible, don’t make calls outside your network. It’s on calls such as these that most mobile phone companies make their profits – the “interconnect” charges between your service provider and other networks.

Do you need to text – A “text conversation” over a series of 5 or 6 text message with a friend (particularly on a different network) could cost you more than having the same brief conversation via a voice call.

Call at certain times – Mobile phone calls during peak times can cost you significantly more than off peak. Where possible, don’t make calls during peak times – if you have an office job, use your work phone for example.

Be careful about special offers – don’t just buy a phone, or sign up for a deal, just because of the flashly lights and bells and whistles that you might think you’re getting. Most “free credit” offers these days take nearly a year for you to get your credit, and only if you top up for sometimes up to €20 per month.

Caution while roaming – Remember that while on holidays abroad, using your mobile phone could cost you significantly more than at home. Though some companies do offer special offers for people while roaming, they’ll still cost you more. If you can, leave the phone behind – you’re on holiday after all.

Beware premium costs – Do you really need to be sending photos via MMS – they cost more? Do you really need to download all those games – they can cost €5 or more.

Avoid 1890 / 1850 / 0818 extra costs – If you have a mobile phone minutes package, and even if you don’t, you are charged extra for these numbers when called from mobile phones. Use the SayNoTo1890.com website to find geographical alternative number for many companies that use these numbers.

More to Come – Come back soon to TopTips.ie to get a full listing of how to save money when roaming and using your mobile abroad.

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Calls to China from mobile phones

You’d think that making a phone call on your mobile to a number in China would be horribly expensive. I thought so too until I discovered that at certain times, calling China can be cheaper than calling my ma home down the country.

From previous posts, you’ll know that I used to be with 3. While with them, I needed to send text messages fairly regularly to someone I know travelling in China. But 3 didn’t send messages to China, and they didn’t know when they’d be providing that facility – and obviously not bothered with the Chinese market in Ireland.

Unlike O2 I discovered. I bought one of their cheap Speak Easy prepay phones in order to send these messages. Fine, no problems there. I made one or two phone calls as well, but since I was on free credit originally, I didn’t pay attention to the cost.

Then recently, they sent me a message telling me that I could make calls to China for 15c per minute. This is a great price and is the same as calling Irish landlines on some O2 price plans. So I was able to make great use of that price.

Since moving to Vodafone, I didn’t have the issue with sending text messages, since Vodafone actually deliver texts to China. However, I checked the per minute cost on my monthly price plan for calling China – €3.23 per minute. Unbelievable. But as the helpful person on Vodafone Customer Care pointed out, if I used a Vodafone Pay As You Go phone, I’d get the same calls for 5c per minute.

So, I’ll get a Vodafone SIM card for €9.99. I’ll automatically get €15 free credit with that which will refund me the cost of the card, and I’ll get a further 50 free minutes straight away. And future calls will save me 10c per minute.

So, shopping around, and looking at all the alternatives can definitely save you money – even on dreaded mobile phone costs.

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