Another Australian Telecom Scandal -- And Two Days On Yet There's Only Two Posts?
I picked this up story two days on in 'older stories' and there's still only two posts. Why?
Frankly, I think Australian users of telecommunications services have been and remain shell-shocked. Wireless charges in Australia are nothing other than extortionate--there's simply no other way of putting it.
Let me give you an example: two weeks ago--having temporarily misplaced my mobile phone--I borrowed a prepaid Telstra mobile from a colleague. The account balance when I started was about $14.50, I then added $20. However, unbeknownst to me, the phone's owner checked the account on-line before I added the $20, and realising the balance was low he added a further $40, so the balance was about $74.50.
The balance of that account is now exactly $4.15. So where did $70+ go?
I made two short calls to the phone's owner (even exaggerating, the total time can't have been more than 15 mins), and I made three calls to a client just to organise meeting times (several minutes at most for each call). As this phone doesn't log the call duration, only numbers, I can't provide exact times until I get them from my colleague when he next checks the account.
So you think I'm exaggerating. Well, believe it or not, here's a cross-check:
This prepaid account was opened in Feb 2011 so that makes the account about 3 years 4 months old. Now the phone does log the total outgoing talk/dialled* time since the phone SIM was first used which is :
02:56:05 hours - - Total outgoing call time since new
Essentially 3 hours in 40 months. Now the account is a 30-day prepaid so let's do the sums:
Total monies paid to Telstra: $30 x 40 months ==> $1,200
Total time in minutes (60 + 60 + 56) ==> 176 minutes
Average price per minute of this Telstra prepaid mobile: 1200/176 ==> $6.82 / min.
If I was Euler or Gauss and derived an optimising algorithm/ideal usage path [à la the Königsberg Bridge Problem or such] to optimise call times/versus/persons/versus duration of call etc. (such as ensuring this spare phone was handed around in such a way that the $30/month ran out exactly at the 30-day point and the recharge entered at that point), then I'd guess the cost of the call would be somewhat cheaper.
The fact is one can't run a prepaid monthly by clockwork unless one is C-3PO, so Telstra has yuh by the short and curlies.
Australia needs a Royal Commission into telephone pricing and how deregulation went so horribly wrong. But that will never happen. Why would it when it was the government that fucked up big time. Moreover, many of us saw it coming but were powerless to stop it.
(PhD thesis anyone? Providing a definitive historical account and financial analysis of Australian telecommunications deregulation would have to get someone a PhD and thanks from a very grateful public -- and if you want background info I'll even give you copies of still-disputed accounts with both Telstra and Vodafone which amount to many thousands of dollars.)
El Reg, If Vulture South wants 5-brownie points and a koala stamp, not to mention accolades for the Oz public, it could expose what's really going on behind the Great Australian Telecommunications Fraud. Perhaps we could start a fund to pay whistleblowers to get the real dope on what's going on inside these secretive phone carpetbaggers.
* There is no internet connection on this phone and total outgoing SMSs since new is only 22, so other charges are negligible for this accounting.