To help you avoid bill shock, your telephone or internet provider must send you spend management alerts (also known as usage notifications) so you can manage your mobile and online spend.
Providers must send these alerts to customers who signed up to mobile included value plans or mobile and fixed internet plans. Alerts apply to national calls, SMS and data use in Australia only. The rules for spend management alerts are in the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code.
If you are on a qualifying plan, you will receive alerts when your data use reaches 50%, 85% and 100% of your data limit or included value for voice calls and SMS. You’ll receive these alerts by either SMS or email.
So, how does it work?
Say you have a $49/month plan for a mobile service that includes voice calls and SMS up to $500 and a data limit of 1 GB.
Your provider will send you alerts when you reach:
- 50% alert—when you hit $250 worth of calls/SMS and 500MB of data
- 85% alert—when you hit $425 worth of calls/SMS and 850MB of data
- 100% alert—when you hit $500 worth of calls/SMS and 1GB of data.
Internet plans work the same way—you’ll receive alerts at 50%, 85% and 100% of your monthly data limit.
If you exceed the 100% threshold, your provider must let you know:
- the excess charges you’ll pay for voice calls, SMS or data if you keep using the service
- that the usage info they send may not be completely up to date—it can be delayed by up to 48 hours
- if there’s any use that isn’t included in the alert—such as voice calls or SMS sent or received outside Australia.
It’s important to know that you WON’T be alerted if:
- you have a hard cap limiting maximum expenditure on your voice calls/SMS
- your data speed is slowed or shaped when you reach your limit
- you have an unlimited plan.
Can I change my alerts?
Some providers may allow you to change your alerts—but they mustn’t push you to opt out of receiving all or some of these alerts. You can ask to:
- not receive all or some of the alerts
- get more alerts
- get alerts at different usage points
- get alerts by a different method.
Your provider must keep a record of your choice for the length of your contract.
Remember that your first port of call for any problem is always your provider.