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If you are with Kogan Mobile you may have received an email from them last week advising of a decision taken by Telstra Wholesale to shut the service down following an unresolved dispute it is having with ispONE, their reseller. The email included the following:

“Telstra has today notified Kogan Mobile that it will be terminating the supply of 3G Prepaid Mobile services to its wholesale reseller ispONE within 24 hours, and has established a transition arrangement in respect of your service. Kogan Mobile understands that ispONE has appointed voluntary administrators today.

Kogan Mobile has tried to do everything it can to protect its customers. However, contrary to our numerous and concerted efforts to persuade Telstra to maintain and support Kogan Mobile’s arrangements with Telstra’s sole distributor, ispONE, Telstra has advised that it will terminate the 3G Prepaid Mobile services to Kogan Mobile. This will impact the continuity of your service, and those of other Kogan Mobile customers. While the timing and nature of the transition arrangements are dictated by Telstra, Kogan Mobile has negotiated the optimal arrangements that Telstra would allow.

While this matter is entirely out of the control of Kogan Mobile, we nevertheless sincerely apologise for any inconvenience that these transition arrangements may cause to you. Importantly, Kogan Mobile customers who have remaining credit at the time their services are terminated by Telstra will have their entire remaining balance refunded to them by Kogan Mobile. The refund amount shall be calculated as the pro-rata amount remaining on the date of deactivation of service. You can read the whole announcement here.”

The decision is quite drastic but at this stage seems definite. For Aldi Mobile customers the news is much better. Medion Mobile, the organisation through which Aldi Mobile was providing its mobile services and the organisation that was dealing with ispONE, has negotiated a separate agreement directly with Telstra Wholesale which will see its services continue uncharged (for now anyway).

What Kogan has been able to negotiate is some leg room for you so that you can make a decision to move away from Kogan Mobile to a new provider. The question is who? The answer to this really depends on what type of plan you want at the moment.

Best Unlimited Prepaid Offers
If it is more of the same, ie an unlimited prepaid offer, then we recommend that you check out the following plans:

  • Boost Mobile – Telstra NextG coverage, unlimited calls/TXT inc 1300 numbers and voicemail, 3GB data (charged p/MB). Cost $40 – 30 day expiry
  • Amaysim Mobile – Optus network coverage, unlimited calls/TXT inc 1300 numbers and voicemail, 4GB data (charged p/MB) and unlimited Facebook/Twitter. Cost $39.90 – 30 day expiry
  • Optus $2 Days – Optus network coverage, unlimited calls/TXT inc 1300 and voicemail, unlimited internet. Cost $2 per day – $30 buys 30 days credit.

There are more and you can check them all out here.

Best Prepaid $30 Cap
If you are looking to spend the same amount as you did with Kogan (about $30/mth) but are willing to use less calls and data, then consider the following plans:

  • Optus Prepaid Social – Optus network coverage, 250 minutes to anyone, $30 credit, unlimited TXT, 500MB data and unlimited Facebook/Twitter (4G enabled). Cost $30 – 28 day expiry
  • Virgin Your Cap $29 – Optus network coverage, $600 call credit and unlimited talk/TXT to Virgin, 1GB data. Cost $29 – 28 day expiry
  • Telstra Prepaid Cap Encore – Telstra network coverage, $250 call credit and unlimited calls to anyone from 6pm – 6am, 400MB data (4G enabled). – Cost $30 – 30 day expiry
  • Vodafone $30 Prepaid Cap – Vodafone network coverage, $450 call credit, unlimited TXT, 500MB. – Cost $30 – 28 day expiry

There are more and you can check them all out here.

Best PAYG Prepaid Plans
If you simply want to move away and decide on a more permanent plan later on, then consider one of the following PAYG plans:

  • Amaysim PAYG – 12c/min, 12c TXT, 5c/MB – 90 days
  • Dodo As You Go – 11c/min, 11c TXT, 5c MB – 60 days
  • Hello Mobile Combo $10 – 10c/min, 12c TXT, 5c/MB – 30 days

There are more and you can check them all out here.

If you have had enough of prepaid and want more value without the pain of a contract, then consider a sim only no contract plan. We cover everyone of them too and you can compare the best of them here.

As always we are here to help answer any questions you might have on any prepaid mobile plan available in the market today. We are still the only website which compares them all for you.

The bloody Kogan Mobile Saga

If you aren’t a Kogan Mobile customer and you follow the mobile phone and plan press machine you are probably sick of it. Today a new article was released by Gizmodo promising to provide an exclusive insight into why it all went the way it went.

The article is here for you to read.

It is a worthwhile read and you get the gist of what likely happened to Kogan for him to eventually pull the pin in the whole Kogan Mobile business. I predicted earlier this week (see twitter feed) that Aldi with its new Telstra Wholesale agreement will also in the near future likely require a price adjustment. The article makes the same assessment although it does reveal who is paying for the difference at the moment. Medion Mobile might have the appetite for now but with many Kogan customers jumping left, right and centre (Aldi being one of the major three to receive business), the cost of funding the Telstra direct move might just prove too much.

The only thing I wanted to add to what was written by Gizmodo is that ispOne might have come out the real loser in all of this but you can’t tell me that they didn’t know what they where getting themselves into by entering into agreements with the likes of Kogan and Aldi. Price is the key driver for both of these businesses and the models they operate under and so ispOne new what the likely product offerings where going to be like.

Without any insight into the reseller agreement or discussions they had with both Kogan and Aldi, ispOne must of had discussions regarding retail pricing options. How could you not and how could you not place restrictions in your agreement about them.  Think about it another way, why would they have approached both of these parties if it was not about prepaid mobile acquisition. Having played their own hand in the prepaid game via One Mobile and One Seniors as well as years of experience in the wholesale distribution game, ispOne saw this as a great opportunity to make a quick dollar at the expense of the existing players without having to buy the retail customers themselves.

Whether the contracts where adjusted by Telstra Wholesale after the launch of the offers is something I have no insight into, but ispOne has enough experience to know how to count data and to predict what usage levels would be like with a plan offering 6GB. Like I have said before, if you didn’t want the customer to use 6GB why offer it at such a low cost. Offer 3GB and protect your margins. ispOne do this day in day out, they just gambled and lost.

I think the Gizmodo article actually makes ispOne look like the innocent party in all of this when really they are all just as guilty as each other. Kogan for being so aggressive and not thinking about or caring about what would happen should Telstra pull the pin. IspOne for being greedy enough to chase such arrangements when it knew it was risky and the outcomes could be catastrophic for their business. Why would they risk so much on so little? Telstra for being greedy with their wholesale pricing.

Who really is the winner in all of this is Amaysim, Aldi, Boost and Yatango who have picked up a chunk of customers (that they may have lost in the first place) for very little marketing expense. I just wonder whether they really want them all. Numbers are great, but heavy users don’t make for profitable prepaid customers and Kogan users are not light users by any means.

Optus will join Vodafone by revamping its international roaming charges. The new charges aren’t a flat rate like what Vodafone launched, but will dramatically reduce bill shock for those traveling overseas and taking their local sim with you. The new rates will cover some 182 countries.

The new plans slash the price for data and calls for post-paid and prepaid customers. In Zone 1, which includes New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, Europe, the UK, the US, Canada, and Asia, the price from mid September will be 50 cents per text, AU$1 per minute per call, and 50 cents per 1MB of data used.

For Zone 2, which includes Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East, the cost will be AU$1 per text, AU$2 per minute per call, and AU$1 per 1MB of data used.

From November, post-paid customers travelling to countries in Zone 1 will be able to purchase an Optus Travel Pack, which will cost AU$10 per day and give the customers unlimited phone calls, unlimited text messages, and 30MB of data to use. Once the 30MB of data has been used, the standard Zone 1 data rate charges apply.

Last month Vodafone released their $5 per day plan which provides a maximum charge per day when using the Vodafone service in select countries such as the US, UK or New Zealand.

Kogan Mobile Shut Down

Dear Kogan Mobile Customers,

Important update concerning the continuity of your Kogan Mobile Service

As a challenger brand, we’re used to being up against some of the biggest companies in the world to get the best deal for our customers. We’ve successfully disrupted entire industries, with our low margin, high volume technology business.

While the launch of Kogan Mobile was a success for consumers, securing a great deal on mobile access at an unbeatable price, not everyone in the industry was happy about it.

We have fought hard for the Australian consumer, spending countless hours and millions of dollars in legal and administrative costs to defend your right to a fair deal! Our intention from day one was to build a long-term, sustainable, and value-based alternative to the big telcos. We believe technology makes the world a better place, which is why we have fought hard for better value mobile deals for everyone in Australia. The endless negotiations, and even the occasional visit to the Supreme Court to protect your interests and ensure that you continue to get the best deal have worked, until today.

There are forces at play in the Australian telecommunications market that are beyond our control, very powerful, and impossible to ignore. When over 100,000 people took their services to Kogan Mobile, in such a short space of time, it attracted a lot of attention. Unfortunately and frustratingly, it appears like the telco heavyweights may be determined to take their former customers back and they may be prepared to do so by force.

We believe that fair and open competition is great for consumers, but unfortunately that competition is being forcefully limited today.

In our email last week, we advised that Kogan Mobile had recently become aware of the following –

  • Telstra is in dispute with ispONE, Telstra’s sole distributor of prepaid 3G mobile services and Kogan Mobile’s essential supplier
  • Telstra had taken steps to terminate its contract with ispONE. If Telstra terminates its contract with ispONE, this would be very likely to impact Kogan Mobile’s own customers’ services (through no fault of Kogan Mobile)
  • ispONE had commenced proceedings against Telstra in the Federal Court and obtained a short term injunction to restrain Telstra from terminating its contract with ispONE
  • The Federal Court ordered Telstra and ispONE to attend mediation. Although not party to the Federal Court proceedings, Kogan Mobile was permitted to (and did) attend the mediation

We now understand the mediation between Telstra and ispONE failed to achieve a satisfactory result for Telstra. Telstra has today notified Kogan Mobile that it will be terminating the supply of 3G Prepaid Mobile services to its wholesale reseller ispONE within 24 hours, and has established a transition arrangement in respect of your service. Kogan Mobile understands that ispONE has appointed voluntary administrators today.

Kogan Mobile has tried to do everything it can to protect its customers. However, contrary to our numerous and concerted efforts to persuade Telstra to maintain and support Kogan Mobile’s arrangements with Telstra’s sole distributor, ispONE, Telstra has advised that it will terminate the 3G Prepaid Mobile services to Kogan Mobile. This will impact the continuity of your service, and those of other Kogan Mobile customers. While the timing and nature of the transition arrangements are dictated by Telstra, Kogan Mobile has negotiated the optimal arrangements that Telstra would allow.

While this matter is entirely out of the control of Kogan Mobile, we nevertheless sincerely apologise for any inconvenience that these transition arrangements may cause to you.Importantly, Kogan Mobile customers who have remaining credit at the time their services are terminated by Telstra will have their entire remaining balance refunded to them by Kogan Mobile. The refund amount shall be calculated as the pro-rata amount remaining on the date of deactivation of service.

We’re Devastated

We are extremely upset to have to bring you this news. We set out with the aim to make mobile services in Australia more affordable for all, and were well on the way to achieving this goal. The migration to Kogan Mobile was one of the biggest in Australian telecommunication history. As we lowered the prices for services, we were happy and so were our customers – but not everybody in the industry was pleased with what we were doing.

As you may have seen recently, many companies have fallen out of the prepaid unlimited market. We’re afraid that due to certain industry dynamics, this is a sign of things to come. We’re concerned that it won’t be long before your choice as a consumer is eroded almost completely. We worry that the big telcos in Australia will continue their consolidation of power. Inevitably, this will mean higher prices. We’re not happy about this but at this stage it’s not something we can do anything about. Kogan Mobile has been muscled out of the mobile industry against our will by a force much bigger and much stronger than us.

What will happen to my mobile number?

Don’t worry, your number is safe! Your mobile number will stay active for 180 days from today. You will be able to transfer (port) your phone number to another provider at any time for the next 180 days.

What does this mean?

Based on information provided to us by Telstra, we understand that the following will be the transition arrangements that Telstra will enforce –

  • Within the next 24 hours, Kogan Mobile customers will be unable to activate new services, or recharge existing services
  • In the coming weeks, you can expect to receive an SMS from Telstra advising you that your service will cease within a limited period (up to 60 days), but not before you receive a second SMS advising that there are 7 days to change (port) your number to an alternate provider
  • During this period, you will be able to use your existing service and consume your existing credit
  • Telstra will then send a second SMS at some stage during the 60 day transition period, which will advise that there are 20 minutes of calls and 20 SMS remaining credit available for use within 7 days to Australian numbers, while data services, international calls, international SMS and MMS will be excluded. You will continue to be able to retrieve your voicemail messages during this 7 Day Plan and for up to 10 days afterwards.
  • For 180 days from today, customers will still be able to receive calls, receive SMS and transfer (port) their mobile numbers and make emergency calls at any time for 6 months thereafter. If your service has not ported out after the 6 month period, the service will be cancelled by Telstra
  • Kogan Mobile recommends that, upon receiving the second SMS from Telstra, you take action to transfer (port) your mobile number to another provider, or otherwise make arrangements for continuity of your mobile service. We also encourage customers to plan ahead for receipt of the second SMS from Telstra by acquiring a new SIM card from another provider as soon as possible.
  • On behalf of our customers, we are currently seeking to negotiate some deals with several leading mobile phone providers. We will keep you informed about any special offers we manage to negotiate on your behalf and which you may wish to take up.

 

What will happen to the unused credit I’ve paid for?

Once you have ported your number to another provider, or your service otherwise ceases, Kogan Mobile will, of course, refund to you the unused portion of your Access Period back to the credit card or Paypal account that you originally paid with.

As a consequence of Telstra’s termination of the 3G Prepaid Mobile services, the Kogan Mobile customer service team is likely to be inundated with calls and emails, and is likely to take longer than normal to respond. We will provide further email updates to answer your most common questions, and will provide you with further information as it comes to hand.

If you have an urgent enquiry, please email koganmobile@kogan.com.au and we will respond as quickly as we can.