Have yourself a mobile Christmas | ACMA

Have yourself a mobile Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner and you may be thinking of buying a mobile phone or 'smartphone', either for yourself or for a friend/family member. While a phone can be a great gift, it usually has ongoing obligations that extend well beyond Christmas.

If you're looking at getting a mobile phone on a contract or plan, it is important to understand the contract terms and conditions before signing up.

Remember to shop around for a plan that offers best value for the types of services that are going to be used.

Contracts may cover the provision of both a mobile service and handset. Mobile contracts commonly run for a period of 12 months or two years. Given the length of the commitment, make sure you obtain and understand the contract information before signing up and compare different plans.

So remember to ask your provider the following questions:

  • How long is the contract term?
  • What is the minimum cost I have to pay per month?
  • Does this include an amount for the handset and if so, how much?
  • What types of calls, SMS and data are included in any 'cap' or 'included value' plan?
  • What is the cost of making a call, sending a SMS and downloading data?
  • What happens if I exceed the 'cap or 'included value'?
  • Are there alerts based on my spending and/or usage to help avoid any unexpectedly high bills?
  • What is the total minimum cost over the contract period?
  • Are there any charges if I end the contract early?
  • How often do I receive a bill? What are the payment methods? Are there any late payment fees?

If you're buying the phone for someone else, you should also ensure that they'll be responsible for any debts. Usually the person buying the phone is legally liable for any debts and there can be costs involved transferring the phone to someone else.

If you don't want to buy a mobile phone and service on a contract, another option may be to consider buying a mobile phone outright and get a prepaid service.

And finally, if you are going to be travelling overseas, ask the provider about roaming costs and how to turn off roaming on your phone before you go.

Last updated: 28 March 2013