Sunday, 5 December 2010

my pennytel experience (cont)

Just thought I'd further my experience with Pennytel which I blogged about earlier.

To set the scene, I've been using their PennySIM product as my mobile phone provider since April when we came back from Finland. I picked them because they were:
  • prepaid
  • cheap
  • carried by Optus
  • cheap

They have definitely met all my expectations and perhaps exceeded them. Just used normally, the gig is that you pay 16c per minute and 8c call connection fee. This is heaps cheaper than Virgin, Optus, Telstra ... blah blah who typically charge 90c per minute and about 35c call connection fee (it varies)

The other guys usually make it almost impossible to determine what your real costs are by smoke and mirrors tricks like giving you $300 worth of calls for $30; so called call caps at $49 and all manner of recharge bonuses. You have to read the fine print on the actual costs (if you can find them) but more or less you should just be comfortable they're giving you the best deal for the $$ you pay.

you trust them ... right?

So based on a gut feel I took the leap and joined PennyTel instead; that was well over 6 months ago.

So I thought it was time to add to that earlier post I thought I'd present my experience as at November.

In the figure below (for November) my wife and I made 105 calls (we have two phones on the account) which went for a total duration of 421 minutes. Essentially I was on the phone for 7 hours (and it is mainly me too as I used 310 minutes of that).

The cost for that appears to be $19.27, which at first glance is bloody cheap (4c / minute actually), but this is not the complete picture, as my call costs are offset masked by my use of their "Smart Dial" system. These calls do not appear on the charging for the Optus side of things. Just to remind, the Smart Dial allows me to allocate numbers which I'll call frequently to be charged at a lower rate ... so you need to access that in another screen.

So lets have a look at that:

definitely I've been using that system well, with 28 calls (about a third) and nearly 4 hours (about half the time) adding up to a further $16.37 of calls. These calls average out to a charge of 7c per minute, which isn't bad. It starts to look even better when you consider that in there are calls to Finland mobile numbers and calls to Australian mobile numbers.

There is an monthly basic fee for being part of the system, which is $8 ... because I have two phones (my wife and I) the amount of $16 needs to be added to the total. So all up the total cost for my calls was $19.27 (regular Optus) + $16.37 (smartDial) + $16 (access) = $51.64 for 421 minutes of blabbering.

That's an overall cost of 12c per minute calling and includes factoring in the call connection fees and service charge amid it all.

Since there are two phones on this service that means my wife and my phone bill is $25.82 per month each.

Just how much cheaper it can be (or not be depending) depends on how you call and the price of the call connection fee.

If you make lots of short calls then the expensive 35c call connection fee eats up a big slice of your call cost. So in a quick 30 second call (can you make one?) it will be half the cost.

If you talk for longer then the percentage that the call connection fee counts of your call cost drops. But your call cost overall gets big. A one minute call with a SIM from PennyTel works out to be 24c while a 1 min call with say Optus or Telstra works out to be $1.28

Bump that up to 10 minutes and the cost becomes $9.38 (of which 38c didn't hurt as much). Even so you can see the differences between PennyTel and Others really starts to rack out.

So then the $300 worth of calls for $30 starts to bring them down in price to match PennyTel. A 15 minute call will cost you $13 so if you talk about this amount of time then you'll get about 30 calls for your $300 worth of value.

If you try to make shorter calls (say 3 minutes) you'll get more calls, about 97 calls. but then the call connection fee is a bigger portion of that so you don't get as many minutes for your $300. To put a figure on that you'll get 291 minutes with lots of short calls vs 450 minutes when making longer calls.

Of course when making shorter calls you run a greater risk of going over the 30 second bracket and costing yourself more when you hang up leaving unused time. But then you have to cough up money as a basic amount (like the $49 cap plans) where if you don't use the $49 you'll still have to pay it meaning that the calls you made just cost you more.

So for me it works well. I can make lots of short calls (~2minute) and pay about 40c per call (to a mobile or just a few cents to a landline on my smart dial) or I can make longer calls and pay $2 for that compared to $11 using the "others".

Of course if I really milked the other system I could spend about the same, but in contrast if I don't use my phone much it doesn't cost me much (like $8 per month) and when I do use it heavily then its still a little cheaper than the others.


Unlike what you may read on Whirlpool I've had no issues, no problems and no hassles. When ever I've contacted support (such as how to work out other cunning bits) my email is answered within that business day and resolved within 24H.

So if you're just after a basic phone that works as a phone and you don't want to sign up to a high price plan to get a free funky phone ... all I can say is "Its been working well for me".

Have a look at your calling habits and see if you can't find yourself either ahead $100 a year or just getting better mileage out of your mobile for the same money.

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