Data hungry tourist in Australia? Optus $2 Days to the rescue

A couple of months back there were articles about mobile phone roaming charges and I feel the best way to prevent such a problem is to just use a local SIM card. So on my short trip to Melbourne, a couple of months back, I was lucky to have my brother’s Optus prepaid SIM which he had used the Optus $2 Days Prepaid plan which offers:

  • Unlimited National Voice Calls
  • Unlimited Standard SMS/MMS
  • Unlimited Mobile Internet Browsing

This trifecta makes is perfect for practically anybody! The last time I was in Melbourne, I tried Vodafone and the data prices were horrendous (most prepaid plans seem pretty expensive in Australia), so I was very surprised to see unlimited data for $2/day. I’ve tried M1’s and Singtel’s offerings in Singapore and both only offered data: no voice or text.

As with all mobile data, coverage is important: there is no use having unlimited data if there is no reception! Check out any coverage maps to ensure that the place you go indeed has 3G reception (Optus coverage map). Also if there network is congested and saturated with people, it can be a frustrating experience. Thankfully, this was not the case with Optus in the CBD area, where I was most of the time.I manged to get consistent 6Mbps download speeds while downloading my podcasts.

Also do remember to read the fine print when signing up for these plans so that you don’t get charge unexpectedly (by wrongly assuming something is free or counted in the deal when it is not). Sadly when you do read the Optus fine print in the Terms & Conditions it says the $2 charges exclude "mobile handset tethering and use of non mobile voice devices" which I made sure I didn’t do just in case. Also their Optus Mobile Fair Go Policy applies to your usage which is basically guarding against ‘excessive usage’ which would probably be detrimental to the general network (i.e. causes congestion for other users)

All in all, I enjoyed the freedom of being able to use my phone without worrying about any caps or running out of credit. I would highly recommend this plan for all those data hungry Twitter / Facebook / Foursquare / Instagram / WhatsApp / Viber / other text alternative apps / general web addicted people out there. Heck if you need a SIM card before you go, I (or you) could ask my brother to borrow the SIM card.

Terms & Conditions of Optus $2 Days (via Optus website)

  • Daily usage fee is $2 and includes unlimited standard national calls, SMS & MMS to Australian GSM mobiles (excluding Pivotel); standard national calls to Australian fixed lines; voicemail retrieval and mobile internet browsing on your handset within Australia. Includes free voicemail deposits within Australia.
  • Excludes premium SMS and content, international and satellite calling and text, international roaming charges, Zoo content usage charges, video calling, 966 calls, mobile handset tethering and use of non mobile voice devices. Optus Mobile Fair Go Policy applies.
  • Timing is based on AEST (the time in Sydney, NSW) regardless of your location. Please adjust your usage to allow for time differences.
  • The usage fee is charged on the first outbound standard national call, SMS, MMS or mobile internet access each day after 12.00.00am AEST. Usage fee is not charged on days when no outbound standard national call, SMS, MMS, voicemail or mobile internet access is made.
  • Unlimited standard national daily calls maximum duration is 24 hours.
  • International calls are charged in increments of up to 10 minutes.
  • Daily usage fee inclusions expire on the earlier of: 1. 11:59:59pm AEST each day; or 2. the time on which you select another offer.
  • If you change from $2 Days to another offer after you have paid your daily usage fee, you will forfeit the benefits available under the Dollar Days offer.
  • Me2U is not available with these offers.
  • Recharge voucher expiry : $10 is 10 days, $15 is 15 days, $20 is 20 days, $30 is 30 days, $40 is 40 days and $50 is 50 days, $70 is 70 days and $100 is 100 days
  • Unused credit rolls over when your next recharge is before your credit expiry.
  • Options for $5, $10, $15 & $20 top-ups are not available. Some handsets are set to seek data automatically (eg email or other apps). This will use the internet and, in some cases, charges will apply.
  • Mobile Internet access requires a compatible handset. Optus may in the future require customers to change their Internet connection settings to be able to access the Internet while on the Dollar Days offers.
  • ^Rollover credit: You must recharge a minimum of 24 hours before your credit expires for rollover to apply.

Australian Housing Scam

As my wife is looking for accommodation in Australia she showed me an ad that seemed a bit too good to be true: rent was much lower than any other accommodation within the area (suspicion #1). The person insisted that they not go through the real estate website but to email them directly (suspicion #2). On emailing the person in charge the following email was received:

First of all I want to thank you for your reply. I really appreciate you took the time to answer me. I am the owner of the apartment located 500/408 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, Vic 3000. It is still available for rent for $190 p/w including utilities for as long as you need. The apartment is in the best conditions, it is newly furnished and equipped with all the dependencies. I bought the apartment in 2007 and I lived there with my pet until last month when I received a promotion and needed to move to Padova / Italy.

In the apartment you will find a dishwasher, a refrigerator, a freezer, a washing machine, a dryer, an iron, , an oven, a toaster, a coffee maker, vacuum cleaner, a big screen TV, cable TV with the basic access, ADSL internet and Wi-Fi access. Also the apartment is near the public transportation, a shopping mall, a gym, and other facilities. There are no problems if you have any pets, as long as you clean up after them. The apartment has a parking space for one car. I have spent a great amount of money refurnishing the apartment and my request is that you treat it like it was your own. I am not interested to make a lot of money from the rent as I am interested to find a tenant that will take good care of the property until my return(minimum lease period, 3 months).

My contract here in Italy expires in October 2013.

Because I had to move to Italy so soon I didn’t had the time to find a trustworthy agent, I had to take the apartment keys with me. I had a real bad experience with the renting agents from the area with my previous home. I can’t come to show you the apartment and I don’t have any friends in the area to send the keys. I found an alternate solution in order to close the transaction safe for the both of us, it is an international delivery solution called Express Metrix (I will pay for a 2 days delivery),they will provide assistance in handling the payment and delivery of the Keys and Lease Agreement.With this procedure you will be able to check the apartment before I receive the payment.

Let me know how this sounds to you.

Looking forward to your answer.

Best regards,

Milda Stoehr.

After Googling this search phrase “I received a promotion and needed to move to” and found the following 3 links:

  1. Suspicious Housing
  2. Apartment Rental Scam
  3. Beware of new rental share accommodation scams (see comments for some scams)

This is probably a bogus escrow scam and I hope this will help inform people of these scams and to be wary of dealings with people online. While it seems to be Australian focused, a friend mentioned that there is a similar thing in Canada and probably in other countries as well. It’s sad to see people to resort to such tactics but we all need to be vigilant.

Have a great week and stay safe people!