Telstra is again outgunning the competitors with its iPhone 4 plans, offering customers upgrades to 6GB allowance for very little extra cost.
A quirk in Telstra's billing system is allowing people to sign up for cheap iPhone 4 plans with massive data allowances -- and Telstra says it is perfectly OK with it.
The loophole was brought to the attention of one customer, Michael Tatas, by a Telstra salesman.
Tatas told APC he was offered the opportunity to get 6GB of data in his plan for just $20 on top of his plan fee.
Officially, Telstra advertises its 6GB plan as costing $129. But the loophole allows customers to get 6GB on their plan for as little as half that price.
Tatas told APC that "Guy was adamant, as was the manager. Lady who had to re-enter my plan into the system also said yes."
The explanation he received was that his $79 iPhone Cap plan is split up in Telstra's system as $59 for voice and $20 for data – even thought the $59 represents $750 of call allowance, and the $20 equates to 500MB.
The salesman who sold the phone to Telstra simply swapped the $20/500MB component of the plan over for a $79/6GB data plan, which was also provided at a 50% discount as a promotion for iPhone buyers, bringing its cost down to $39.50.
Tatas' final plan ended up costing $98.50 per month, which consisted of a $59 call component (worth $750 in calls) and a $38.50 data component (worth 6GB in data).
Whirlpool users also heard about the plans and were able to get similarly amazing deals in Telstra shops.
Whirpool user, SCAT01 was able to sign on to a $49 iPhone plan but got 3GB of data instead of 500MB for a total of $63.50.
He said Telstra had confirmed to him via several tweets that if customers took the standard data pack off the $49 plan they could add other data packs at 50% off, providing the following effective rates:
- $49 ($400 call allowance) + 1GB data = $58.50
- $49 ($400 call allowance) + 3GB data = $63.50
- $49 ($400 call allowance) + 6GB data = $78.50
Telstra Group Manager of Corporate Relations, Peter Taylor, said although these were not plans Telstra was advertising, they were available to anyone who wanted them.
"This isn't a standard cap plan from Telstra but instead a plan that has been tailored for the customer who has selected a higher data pack," he told APC.
He said the money allocated to data in a plan was "one of the most flexible parts of a plan" and if anyone who signed up for an iPhone last week wanted to tweak their plan to replace their plan included data allowance with a higher data pack at 50% off the price, they could go into a Telstra shop and that could be arranged.
Although most people wouldn't know they could negotiate with carriers on their plans, Taylor said it's "a reminder to take the time to talk with Telstra about how you will use your mobile so we can find the most appropriate plan."
For high data users – such as people who want to use their iPhone as a tethered mobile modem, this makes Telstra the cheapest network by far for data – even though it is also the fastest network with the broadest coverage.
Optus, which has traditionally been highly aggressive with its iPhone plan pricing, charges $129 for a 6GB plan. Virgin Mobile has 3GB per month as its maximum plan at $69, and Vodafone has a maximum of 3GB on its $99 plan. Three is offering a maximum of 2GB data on its $79 plan.
Telstra's second wave of iPhone 4s goes on sale at Telstra stores tomorrow – Wednesday.
UPDATE | The bad news is that this 50% off data pack prices offer is not available to people who signed up for a business plan. However, Telstra says it will consider requests to change from a business plan to a consumer plan on a case by case basis if customers ask at a T-Life store. If you are planning to sign up for a new iPhone, make sure you take a consumer plan, rather than a business plan, in order to qualify for the 50% off data packs offer.