Smart consumer: I'm horrified at the cost of international calls
Published 02/09/2010 | 05:00
Commitment certainly doesn't pay when it comes to making international calls on your mobile.
Filmmaker Declan Cassidy was "happy enough" when he locked into an 18-month contract with O2. It was a great deal for data usage and he was delighted with his new iPhone.
But when he investigated the cost of international calls, he was horrified at the price difference compared with non-committal pay-as-you-go deals.
Calling China, for example, costs €3.24 a minute with his bill-pay option -- but just 23c a minute with pay-as-you-go.
The same story applies across a range of countries with an even bigger gap for some places (India and Brazil for example).
"Any Joe Soap can walk in off the street and get a speakeasy phone and pay 16 times less than me," he says
"We're in a recession and I made a big commitment to one phone company for a year and a half. You'd expect at least equal terms with people who make make none whatsoever."
A spokeswoman for O2 pointed out that despite this anomaly, "in general, postpay contracts offer better value on price, text and data" in the long run for customers who frequently use their phone.
"There is a broad range of add-ons available to customers on contracts that enable them to tailor pricing specifically to how they use their phones.
"A postpay customer wishing to make a lot of international calls can avail of a €2 add-on per month to call international destinations at a much cheaper rate. Contract customers also avail of lower devices prices and upgrade offers."
She admitted that the people who ring abroad most are immigrants who are mainly on pre-pay deals anyway, and this is why phone companies are more competitive in this area.
Glazing specialist Jimmy Kirwan has a better solution, however, when he rings Thailand, where his wife comes from or China where he does a lot of business, importing glass fittings.
He uses a pre-paid card - branded as World or Talk Time -- which are available from most internet cafes and provide over 500 minutes of call time for €10.
That works out at 2c a minute, which is 10 times cheaper than pre-pay phone calls and 162 times cheaper than bill-pay!
"You can talk every day as long as you want for a week or two and not worry about how much it costs," he says.