Are you on an Optus Mobile contract & want out?

14 08 2009

*edit* this post refers ONLY to a narrow window of opportunity to cancel your Optus Mobile contract without penalty back in August/September 2009, so it’s likely of no value to you now.

are you fed up with Optus (Mobile) & want out, but locked into a 24month contract with massive early cancellation penalty? well here’s your free chance out!

Optus have added clause 5.2A(personal)/5.3(business) to their SFOA – Standard Form Of Agreement – covering most pre- & post-paid mobile customers.  if, like many, you object to it, they have the obligation to allow you to end the contract without “early termination fees”.

you only pay for outstanding calls, and however many months worth of handset repayments you have left (if any – some people choose to pay up-front, or higher monthly without handset fees). for me that’s 12 or 13 months x ~$7 = $84, which is 10% of the early termination fee that would ALSO apply if YOU (or I) were in breach of contract. but in this case, it’s Optus who are.

the change they made (effective 12 August 09) is to block you from calling certain Optus mobile numbers – numbers that happen to be used by cheap international calling services, which is just plain anticompetitive. but the SFOA change is so vaguely worded it could be applied to ANY ph# they choose in future. even if you’ve never used such a service before, they are negatively materially impacting the terms of their contract with you for the remainder period of your contract, and you are at liberty to cancel it without early-cancellation-penalty.

their obligations under the SFOA give you until Friday 4th September to object and cancel (without penalty) before they consider you to have agreed with the new terms.

if you cancel in this way, you’ll probably have the choice to revert to a month-to-month arrangement (as would happen automatically when a contract runs out) and consider your options, or cancel immediately & go elsewhere (probably needs a 1 month notice anyway?).

if you call and eventually convince them to cancel your contract without penalty, i urge you to call again a few days later, or at least a few days before your next billing period begins, and confirm that your account has in fact been marked for contract cancellation without penalty.  Optus use one of the oldest tricks – they say “yes, sir” on the phone, but do nothing at their keyboard.  when your next bill arrives you realise nothing’s been done, you’re still in contract, but now the deadline for objecting to the new terms has passed.  when i called a 2nd time, the CS rep knew nothing of what i was talking about, i was still in-contract with no indication i was cancelling – i had to explain again, be put on hold, then received a confirmation/reference number.

i was told each time that the early-cancellation penalty will still appear on my bill, but i have to call up to have it credited before paying it.  naturally i expect that CS rep to say “sorry sir, you’ve asked to cancel your contract, the early termination penalty applies” and have to explain it all again.  but hopefully that’ll be the final moment of victory.

after swearing i’d never go back to Telstra for anything (other than this barely-used land-line for ADSL), and i may yet go elsewhere, i never thought a Telstra competitor – Optus – could become so unpalateable that they made Telstra look appealing.  things must be getting tight on the Optus books…