Comparing 1300 Number Plans
After deciding to get a 1300 number for your business, the next step is to decide which carrier and plan is right for you.
The problem is that there are so many different 1300 number plans, it can be really confusing to compare them.
There are three major components you need to consider:
- Monthly plan charge
- Number of free minutes (for local calls, landline-to-landline)
- Call rates
The plan that is right for you will depend a lot on where most of your calls come from and on how long they last.
If most of your calls are local, landline-to-landline
The most important thing to look at here is the number of free minutes. Carriers will typically offer somewhere between 0 and 20 minutes of free talk time for local, landline-to-landline calls. Alltel’s most popular plan provides 30 minutes of free talk time.
If your average call is 15 minutes, it is typically more cost-effective to get a plan with 15 (or more) minutes of free talk-time (even if it has a slightly higher monthly fee) rather than to go with a cheaper monthly plan that starts charging you for the call after only 5 minutes.
Let’s do a quick comparison of call charges for a business that receives 40 calls per month (2 per day), at 15 minutes per call:
Plan A (Alltel Saver)
- $19 per month; 30 minutes free talk time for local calls landline-to-landline; 4.4¢ for every additional minute.
- All calls will be covered under the free talk time, so the total cost for the month is $19.
Plan B (Popular Competitor Plan)
- $5 per month, 5 minutes free talk time for local landline-to-landline; 13.9¢ for every additional minute.
- Each call will cost $1.39 (10 minutes x 13.9¢). Multiply that by 40 calls, and you’re up to $55.60. Add the $5 monthly fee, and the total is $60.60.
As you can see, a cheaper monthly fee does not necessarily equal cheaper monthly spend. So if you receive a large number of local, landline-to-landline calls, you should select a plan that includes most (if not all) of your calls as “free” minutes.
If you receive a large number of national (STD) and mobile calls
The most important thing to look at here is call rates, including any flagfall and the billing increment (billing can be by 1 second/30 second/60 second block).
Note that free-talk limits apply only to local, landline-to-landline calls. That means that any call that is national or made from a mobile phone is charged from the moment you answer your phone.
Let’s do a quick comparison for a business that receives 20 national and 20 mobile calls per month (one per day), at 10 minutes per call:
Plan A (Alltel Saver)
- $19 per month; 9.7¢ per minute for national calls; 10.7¢ per minute for mobile calls.
- Each national call will cost $0.97; multiply by 20 calls, and you’re up to $19.40. Each mobile call will cost $1.07; multiply by 20 calls, and you’re up to $21.40. Add the $19 monthly fee, and the total is $59.80.
Plan B (Popular Competitor Plan)
- $5 per month, 16.0¢ per minute for national calls; 19.9¢ per minute for mobile calls.
- Each national call will cost $1.60; multiply by 20 calls, and you’re up to $32.00. Each mobile call will cost $1.99; multiply by 20 calls, and you’re up to $39.80. Add the $5 monthly fee, and the total is $76.80.
As you can see, the higher call rates offered with cheaper monthly plans can quickly add up, even when receiving just one phone call a day.
Another thing to watch out for is billing increment. Some telcos will bill pro-rata in one second increments, while others charge in 30 or even 60 second increments. Even though this difference is only a few cents per call, it adds up over the year.
Comparing 1300 number plans
Look at your last few phone bills to determine how many calls are local, long distance, and mobile. Also, start to keep track of how long you typically spend on a phone call.
Once you know where your calls are coming from and the average call length, it’s time to grab a calculator and start comparing plans. Remember to consider things like flagfall, billing increment, and free-talk time in your calculations.
It’s also a good idea to phone the telcos you’re considering (rather than just signing up online). This will provide you with a taste of their customer service, including how long it takes them to answer your call, and how knowledgeable and helpful they are.
And while you’ve got them on the phone, here are a couple of questions you might like to ask:
- How quickly can they make changes to your services?
If for any reason you need to divert your 1300 number to a different answerpoint (for example, if your landline has a fault or your office floods), you need a telco that can fix that for you today, and not this time next week.
- Are their 1300 numbers service hosted over fixed wire or VoIP?
Even though some telcos provide their lowest-cost plans using VoIP, these networks are typically not as reliable as a fixed wire network. Your phone is a vital communications tool for your business, so it’s essential to select a reliable network, and fixed wire is currently the most reliable network available.
You should also ensure that any telco you do business with is a member of the TIO, which provides you with protection (just in case anything does go wrong). The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman is a free and independent alternative dispute resolution scheme for small business in Australia with unresolved complaints about their telephone or internet services. You can check to see if a telco is a TIO member.