If you use the pre-paid service of mobile phones in Australia, beware of calls from that telco offerring you the golden shower of an opportunity to convert to a monthly billing account.
It began in April, on around the 7th or the 8th judging by the first bill they sent me. I'd been using the same service since October 2006, as a pre-paid service, where I'd just have to charge it up with $30 any month I planned to make overseas calls, and as there are times when you know you don't need to call anyone, the cost can plummet. Bear in mind that with this service, they zero your $30 balance every 30 days, even if you have $120 or more on your account.
That was the first bit of thievery I noticed, which just means that you have to plan ahead and try to make as many calls as you can over that 30 days, and hopefully then run a couple of months without needing to make an international call.
They still let you receive incoming calls on the mobile when someone needs to call you, but you just have to go to a phonebox when you want to make local calls. It is not wise in Australia to make overseas ISD calls from a public phonebox.
So then, one afternoon I got a call from a telemarketer with a foreign name I can't remember. He was calling to offer me the chance of converting to a normal monthly-billed account. After some discussion, and as my pet hate of their company was the way they tried to snitch the credit balance of the account every month, and he promised that they wouldn't do this on a monthly account, I agreed.
I never noticed when the first bill arrived, for it showed that I still had a credit balance of $12.29.CR! This was a first for me, getting a bill from a telco where they owed ME money. I almost took a photo of it! This bill was dated 07/04/2008 - 27/04/2008.
Then the next bill arrived in the post today. Because they are claiming $16.71 from me, I took notice. Now I see what they were trying to pull on me for over 12 months of loyal patronage:
1. About half of the existing prepaid balance was rounded to the $60.00 that was transferred across to my NEW account on April 8th. I made two local calls on April 18th totalling $1.24. I also made four international phone calls between the 10th and 19th of April, only one of which was connected. Adding the cost of that single overseas call of $2.23 to the $1.63 of the other three failed attempts, I made $3.86 worth of international calls and $1.24 of locals to total $5.10 for those 20 days.
2. The also charged me a hidden cost for that time of $17.01. In addition, the advanced payment for this hidden RECURRING FEE came to $26.36, to sum to a total HIDDEN cost of $43.37 on the first bill. That this charge, added to the REAL costs of the six calls I made, (although three never got a connection but were still charged me! %#@#&) came to $47.71, which when subreacted from the measly $60.00 they transferred across out of MY MONEY, was what left me so happy about having $12.29 left in credit, without bothering to delve any further into it.
3. The bill I just got ran from April 28th to May 27th. In that time I made 10 local calls between April 29th and May 26th, totalling $7.26, and only one international call on MAy 18th which didn't get a connection and cost $0.59. $7.85 in total phone calls.
4. Again, there's that $26.36 HIDDEN CHARGE, but they also added a credit of $7.85 as some kind of SPECIAL DISCOUNT, (coincidentally the exact same amount as the value of the calls I made), which is how they have managed to take over $100 from me, whittle it down to $60.00, then after I made a total of $5.10 + $7.85 = $12.95 in calls over the last 50 days, find a sleazy way to make it so rather than owe me $47-$87, I owe them $16.71.
He spoke good enough English to explain to me very clearly on the phone that afternoon that the only difference in the change would be that the monthly balance would exist until I used it, rather than having them grope for it every month, and when I asked repeatedly about any hidden charges, he confirmed that there were NO EXTRA CHARGES. Just call charges.
If you get a call from a telemarketer, even though they're from the company you pay your money to for your prepaid cards, DON'T DO IT! They're sleazy rotten scam artists, and they should be in jail.