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Download: docHow to use less data on your smartphone67.5 KB

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Smartphones can chew through your data allowance without you realising it. This can be because data-hungry apps are left open or simply due to default settings on your phone. It could also be due to the way your telco counts your mobile data. For more information on this, look at ACCAN's Megacharge project.

It can be very expensive if you go over your monthly data limit. Our blog post on excess mobile data charges outlines what some of the Australian telcos charge consumers for going over their data limits.

Group of friends taking selfie photo on phone

Download: docIntroduction to Social Media95 KB

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What is Social Media?

Social networking on social media websites involves the use of the internet to connect users with their friends, family and acquaintances. Social media websites are not necessarily about meeting new people online, although this does happen. Instead, they are primarily about connecting with friends, family and acquaintances you already have in real life.

Man with backpack on street smiling at phone

Download: docxTravelling overseas with a mobile phone58.74 KB

Download: pdfTravelling overseas with a mobile phone354.42 KB

If you're travelling overseas and would like to use your mobile phone you have a number of options to consider.

Young man and woman unwittingly using too much dataIf you do not monitor how much data you are using each month on your smartphone or tablet, you could be in for a nasty surprise. The tips below will help you avoid an unexpectedly high bill.

  1. Know your data allowance
    This is usually measured in megabytes (MB) or gigabytes (GB).
  2. Know your billing period and extra charges
    Keep track of when your monthly billing period starts and finishes. Read the Critical Information Summary (CIS) to see what extra charges you will incur by going over your data, call or text allowance. Depending on your provider, you can be charged a per megabyte charge for every megabyte you use over your data limit or you may get upgraded to an extra data package at an extra cost (for example, $10 for an extra gigabyte of data). For more information, read our excess data charges article.

Man complaining on phoneDownload: docHow to make a complaint that gets heard133.5 KB

Download: pdfHow to make a complaint that gets heard362.88 KB

If you have a problem with your phone or internet provider, you have a right to complain. Making a successful complaint is pretty straightforward, especially when you know your rights.

Here are five simple steps to make your complaint heard – and hopefully, resolved quickly.

What affects the quality of my broadband infographic

Download: docxWhat affects the quality of my broadband brochure40.75 KB

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Hello...hello...can you hear me..?

Is poor internet preventing you from talking with family and friends, watching your favourite shows or uploading photos of your recent adventures to share with everybody?

Woman holding up phone looking for mobile receptionDownload: docPoor mobile reception96.5 KB

Download:pdfPoor mobile reception336.4 KB

From time to time most of us will have a call drop out, delayed texts or slow internet on our mobile phone. But, if you regularly have mobile reception problems, then you are not getting the service you're paying for.

Woman smiling while holding phone billDownload docVOIP: Ways to save on home phone bills115.5 KB

Download pdfVOIP: Ways to save on home phone bills88.77 KB

Do you hardly use your home phone line? Or are you looking for ways to save money on call costs? If you answered yes to either of these questions, read on! But please note - if you don’t have the internet at home and don’t want to, this tip sheet is probably not for you.

Father and daughter using mobiles in the parkDownload: How to choose a pre-paid calling card - English [Adobe Acrobat PDF - 134.9 KB]

Download: Arabic [Adobe Acrobat PDF - 130.12 KB]

Download: Simplified Chinese [Adobe Acrobat PDF - 134.03 KB]

Download: Traditional Chinese [Adobe Acrobat PDF - 137.99 KB]

Download: Greek [Adobe Acrobat PDF - 133.07 KB]

Download: Korean [Adobe Acrobat PDF - 187.15 KB]

Download: Persian-Farsi [Adobe Acrobat PDF - 148.56 KB]

Download: Vietnamese [Adobe Acrobat PDF - 201.9 KB]

Pre-paid calling cards can be a cheap way to make international calls and many offer good value for money. But, be warned, there are also many cards you should avoid buying because of hidden fees and charges.

Note: This tip sheet has been translated into Arabic, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, Greek, Korean, Persian-Farsi and Vietnamese. They are available for download above.

Boy using mobile devicesDownload: docHidden costs in free apps62.5 KB

Download: pdfHidden costs in free apps280.46 KB

Our recent research into how Australians use apps found that most of us prefer to download free apps. While some games or apps cost nothing to download on our smartphones or tablets, they often contain extra elements you can purchase within the game, known as an "in-app purchase". Increasing numbers of children are buying things within games not realising that they cost their parents real money through their iTunes, Google Play or Amazon account.

Two students using their mobile phonesDownload: docMobile data - what you need to know74 KB

Download: pdfMobile data - what you need to know321.72 KB

Most smartphone plans come with a monthly data allowance, for example 500MB or 1GB (this is how much internet use you are allowed each month). If you use more than your included allowance you will be charged extra.

Man looking worried about billsThis can happen for lots of reasons: you might have lost your job, had a death in the family or suffered an illness or injury. Every provider has what is known as a "financial hardship policy" that will help you keep your service and pay off your bill over time.

ACCAN's Harship Portal is designed to help consumers by giving them information on how the telcos and other organisations can offer assistance when times get tough. Visit the portal for more information on dealing with hardship.

ACCAN, CHOICE, and the Consumer Action Law Centre have joined forces to give you 4 quick tips on checking your phone bill to save money.

Wondering how to make Facebook work with your screenreader, or whether LinkedIn is accessible? These tip sheets from Media Access Australia, available in print or audio formats, are full of tips and tricks for getting around the accessibility challenges of popular social media platforms. See below to access easy-to-understand information about how to use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Skype and YouTube, or to learn more about blogging.

What are captions?

Captions provide the dialogue and important background sounds in onscreen text for television viewers who are Deaf, hard of hearing or people watching television in noisy places, like the gym. Captions are displayed in text, usually at the bottom of the screen.

When are captions supposed to be provided on television?

All Australian free-to-air broadcasters must provide closed captions on programs shown between 6:00am and midnight on their primary channel (for example: Nine, Seven, Ten, ABC1 and SBS1). News and current affairs programs must have captions at all times.

Download: docxQuestions to ask before signing a phone contract65.96 KB

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Before you sign up for a mobile phone contract, it is important that you fully understand what is included. You should ask your provider the following questions:

Download: docxAvoiding phone and internet scams.docx60.26 KB

Download: pdfAvoiding phone and internet scams.pdf298.48 KB

Scams are an unfortunate fact of using the internet and your phone. Although there are ongoing efforts to shut down scammers, it's important for you to be aware of possible scams so that you can avoid being caught out.

Types of scams

There are a lot of scams out there. Many of them attempt to take your money. Others try to access your personal information, which could be used for identity fraud. Some attempt to gain access to your computer.

A few examples of these scams include:

If you have a problem with your phone or internet provider, you can complain. It is easy to complain. This tip sheet tells you how.

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Download: Problem with customer service? [Word Document - 58.5 KB]

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Not all providers are equal when it comes to customer service, but all of them are required to do a few things:

  • Deal with your enquiries quickly and effectively
  • Try to resolve any problem the first time you contact them
  • Protect your personal information

Ensuring the security of multiple online accounts might seem like a big task, but it’s really important you don’t use the same password for everything.

Download: docMy home broadband is slow or unreliable.doc61 KB

Download: pdfMy home broadband is slow or unreliable.pdf324.93 KB

Before you buy

Download speeds advertised by internet service providers (ISPs) may not be the same as you will receive in your home.

It's very hard for anyone to know in advance what speed you are going to get. This is because there are many different factors involved, such as:

Black and white Wi-Fi sticker in window

Download: docSecuring your home or office Wi-Fi.doc279 KB

Download: pdfSecuring your home or office Wi-Fi.pdf336.74 KB

Wi-Fi is a cheap and easy way to connect your devices to each other and to the internet without running cables throughout your home or office. However, because Wi-Fi is sent through the air, it's important to take steps to secure your network and devices.

Young woman upset at receiving high billDownload: docReceived an unexpectedly high bill61.5 KB

Download: pdfReceived an unexpectedly high bill278.46 KB

Many phone providers have a limit on how many calls you can make, texts you can send and data you can use each month. If you go over your limit you could be charged extra fees. These fees can be very expensive and it's best to avoid going over your limit if you can. See our tip sheet: How to avoid smartphone bill shock.

Front cover image of the tipsheet How to Choose an Internet Service Provider docDownload: How to choose an ISP.doc71 KB

pdfDownload: How to choose an ISP.pdf797.66 KB

When choosing an ISP, small businesses need to think carefully about the quality of the service they require. ACCAN's Tip Sheet 'Preparing your organisation's Broadband Continuity Plan' provides guidance on matching the quality of IT services with the importance of these services to your business.

There will always be a price/quality trade off when choosing an ISP and most small businesses will need higher quality than the typical household or individual consumer plan. Many ISPs have business areas on their web sites and offer 'Business Grade' services. Carefully consider the inclusions and exclusions in these plans and match them to your business needs.

Download: docAbout the National Relay Service94.5 KB

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People who are Deaf, hearing-impaired or speech-impaired are unable to access telecommunications without specialised equipment and services. Since 1995, the Australian Government has overseen a National Relay Service (NRS) which enables people with these disabilities to conduct real-time conversations with other people. The funding for the NRS is provided by a levy on eligible telecommunications carriers.

The NRS offers a number of different relay services allowing greater communication options for people who are Deaf, hearing impaired or speech impaired. These include:

Download: Ending or changing a contract [Word Document - 60.5 KB]

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You may want to end your contract early if you’re moving house, or if you can’t use your phone or internet in the way you would reasonably expect to. Remember that your provider can charge you penalty or cancellation fees if you want to end your contract early.

Not satisfied with your service? You have the right to receive a service that works as advertised.

Here’s what to do:

Download: My mobile handset isn't working [Word Document - 59.5 KB]

Download:My mobile handset isn't working [Adobe Acrobat PDF - 134.28 KB]

If your mobile phone handset isn’t working, you could be entitled to a replacement, repair, or refund depending on the situation.

Mobile phones are commonly purchased under 24-month contracts. It is reasonable to expect that a phone supplied on a 24-month contract should remain free of defects for that period.

Download: docNBN Switch-over Tip Sheet FINAL.doc69.5 KB

Download: pdfNBN Switch-over Tip Sheet FINAL.pdf334.38 KB

Tips for people in NBN switch-over areas

Your area is being switched over to the NBN, and that means the old phone and broadband network is being switched off soon. You need to switch your service over to an NBN plan if you want to continue using fixed line services, such as phone, internet or security and medical alarms. Here are ACCAN's top tips for switching over to the NBN.

Download: Can't get a problem fixed? [Word Document - 58 KB]

Download: Can't get a problem fixed? [Adobe Acrobat PDF - 129.94 KB]

You have the right to make a complaint to your provider if something goes wrong. Your provider must try to fix the problem and keep you informed. Here’s what you should expect:

  1. Your provider must try to resolve urgent complaints within two days; non-urgent complaints within three weeks.

  2. If you are happy with the proposed solution, then the provider must do what they promised within 10 working days.

Cover image of the fixed voice continuity plan pdfFixed Voice Continuity Plan.pdf409.05 KB

docFixed Voice Continuity Plan.doc71.5 KB

Your business landline (fixed voice service) can be a critical business asset. If your fixed voice service failed, would your business continue to operate effectively?

Back-up (or failover) solutions for fixed voice services vary considerably depending on the size of your organisation and the purposes for which you use these services. Most small businesses are highly dependent on their fixed voice services so a continuity plan is important.

To minimise risk to your business from failure of your fixed voice services you should:

  • Perform a 'risk assessment' for your business's use of telecommunications

  • Obtain the most reliable fixed voice service that you can afford – to match the level of risk.

  • Write an action plan for what you would do in the event of a disruption to this service (outage)

Cover image of the business continuity plan tipsheetdocDownload: Business Continuity Plan61 KB

pdfDownload: Business Continuity Plan310.03 KB

What is a 'Business Continuity Plan' (BCP)?

It is a fact of life that emergencies will happen, and computer and communications systems will fail. To minimise the problems for your business it is advisable to have a business continuity plan which:

  • Outlines what you have done in advance to prevent interruptions to vital services

  • Lists the steps you and staff will take during an interruption to continue operations

  • Lists the steps you will take to fully restore services after an interruption

  • Sets up a Post Incident Review (PIR) after an interruption has occurred

Sample BCPs are available on the internet where you will also find sites that have extensive instructions on their construction and implementation.

Cover of Broadband Continuity Plan tipsheet

docDownload: Broadband Continuity Plan74 KB

pdfDownload: Broadband Continuity Plan252.67 KB

Your broadband service can be a critical business asset. If your broadband service failed, could your business continue to operate effectively?

To minimise the risk you are advised to:

a) Perform a risk assessment for your business use of broadband

b) Obtain the most resilient broadband service that you can afford – to match the level of risk.

c) Write an action plan of what you would do if you broadband failed (outage)

Download: docxHow to avoid 13 number bill shock56.68 KB

Download: pdfHow to avoid 13 number bill shock323.72 KB

Whether you are on prepaid or post-paid, most mobile phone providers now charge for 13 number calls out of the value included in your plan. For consumers with large or unlimited included value this will mean it is easier to avoid bill shock when calling these numbers.

Consumers on plans that do not include these calls in included value may find extra charges on their bills. Here are some tips to help you avoid big charges for 13 number calls:

Picture showing cover of How to choose a cloud provider tipsheetDownload: pdfHow to choose a Cloud Computing Provider534.42 KB
Download: docxHow to choose a Cloud Computing Provider58.83 KB

Cloud services are becoming increasingly popular as consumers begin to look for new ways to store and save their data. If you are a small business and looking for suggestions on how to choose one of many cloud service providers, take a look at ACCAN's tip sheet.

What is "The Cloud"?

Cloud computing is best described as storing and accessing data, programs and services over the internet rather than from your computer hard drive or server located on your business premises.

Credit reporting tipsheet coverDownload: docCredit Reporting72.5 KB

Download: pdfCredit Reporting817.83 KB

What is credit reporting?

Credit reporting is used by organisations to help decide whether or not they are willing to lend money to a particular person. Credit providers and credit reporting agencies are the main organisations involved in credit reporting. Credit providers are businesses such as banks, car loan  companies and telecommunications service providers that lend money or provide credit to their customers.

Credit providers send information about your debts to private companies called credit reporting agencies (CRAs). There are three main CRAs in Australia:

A recent survey of 260 small businesses found that an average of 32% of small businesses have experienced significant customer service problems such as difficulty in contacting their provider, being placed on hold, getting a problem resolved, having to call multiple times, being passed between departments, billing issues and resolution response times. If this sounds like your small business then you are losing valuable time which could be spent making sales - so read this Tip Sheet for guidance on reducing this problem.

Not all providers are equal when it comes to customer service, but all of them are required to do a few things:

  • Deal with your enquiries quickly and effectively

  • Try to resolve any problem the first time you contact them

  • Protect your personal information


You have a right to complain to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) if your provide Is hard to get in contact with, for example if your call isn't answered or does not respond to emails within a reasonable period of time.

Image of bright laptop with hands typing

Download: docHow to get the best internet available FINAL.doc67.5 KB

Download: pdfHow to get the best internet available FINAL.pdf331.22 KB

Choosing the right internet plan can be a bit of a task. You have to choose the plan and the type of internet that's right for you. Here's our top tips on how to get the best internet available in your area.

The three biggest telcos have spend and usage tools to help you know how much of the different types of services you are using.

 

Download: docMobile and broadband everyday money saving tips218.5 KB

Download: pdfMobile and broadband everyday money saving tips269.73 KB

ACCAN has put together a number of everyday money saving tips for mobile and broadband services.

1. Be aware that when service providers advertise short term savings, these may not result in long term savings.

2. Watch that your download limits on your phone and internet are not exceeded. You can do this by using your telco's app or online account.

3. Start on a low plan and monitor your usage. If you need to you can usually increase your plan without penalty but you can't always decrease it within your contract time.

Some providers have special deals available for people in special circumstances. Here are the ones we've heard of.

Telstra

InContact

InContact is a free limited service that offers incoming calls but restricts outgoing calls. Telstra customer service, service difficulties and fault numbers can be called.

PhoneAway Card

Telstra's prepaid calling card allows guests to make calls on a pre-paid basis, with the flexibility of being able to use the card from almost anywhere.

Sponsored Access Program

This aims to provide a phone service for people who seek shelter within emergency accommodation (one service only per property).

Telstra Bill Assistance Program

The program is designed to assist specific householders in maintaining access to a telephone service when difficulties arise.

CentrePay

CentrePay is a direct deduction facility offered by Centrelink to customers, who may choose to pay some household bills and other essential services.

Home Phone Budget

Home Phone Budget offers has a line rental plan that provides a relatively lower line rental price than standard services with higher call prices. It is designed for Telstra residential customers with just one fixed line service who make very few calls.

 

 

Some phone numbers and text services cost you more than you expect. Always check what numbers are included, and which ones you pay extra for.

  • Premium SMS (e.g. a ringtone or weekly horoscope)

  • Expensive numbers (e.g. directory services from your mobile or 1900 lines)

  • Purchases from inside Apps

  • Credit Transfers between friends

  • Data usage (using the internet)

  • "Free" Apps that have lots of advertising

More information on these services can be found on the LawStuff website.

 

It's best to match your mobile phone cost with what you can afford and how much you need to use it.

If you're tossing up between a pre-paid or a post-paid plan, head to this site to see the pros and cons of each

Generally, pre-paid deals allow you to have more control over how much you spend because once your credit runs out, you can't make outgoing calls or send texts on your phone unless you pay more money. On the other hand, if you sign a post-paid contract you will have to pay excess charges once you go over your data usage and call or text limit.

If you want to compare plans, the website Whistleout is a good place to start.

Download: docxUnderstanding your broadband options.docx118.5 KB

Download: pdfUnderstanding your broadband options.pdf383.84 KB

With so many options on the market it can be confusing and challenging to choose a broadband service that suits your business. The information below aims to help you understand the available broadband options for small businesses so you can make the best choice for the operational needs of your business.

What products are available?

The product you choose should be the one that best matches your usage requirements. If your business operates in a single location and only needs the internet for email and a small amount of web browsing, then a standard consumer grade retail plan will be fine. However, if your needs are more complex or you have a high demand for reliable high speed services then it may be worth engaging someone to do a full assessment of your telecommunications needs on a commercial basis.

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) technologies are the most commonly available broadband connection type in Australia today. DSL enables high speed data transmission over copper wire telephone lines. DSL comes in a range of types according to upload and download data rates, often referred to as the 'speed.' The actual performance will also depend on how long the copper wires are between your premises and the service provider's equipment as well as the quality of those wires.

cartoon image of telephone, mobile phone and phone directory

Download:docHow to avoid directory assistance call charges FINAL.doc103 KB

Download:pdfHow to avoid directory assistance call charges FINAL.pdf345.9 KB

Did you know that calls to Directory Assistance 1223 and other directory phone numbers may not be free of charge from your mobile or landline phone? Sometimes these calls are charged outside of your included plan value, so you may receive extra charges on your bill from calling these numbers.

Whenever possible, consumers should avoid calling directory assistance numbers and instead use one of the alternatives listed below.

  1. Look for the total cost over the whole contract
    Pay attention to the information and prices next to the asterisks (often at the bottom of the ad) to find out the total cost you will be paying over the whole contract. Don't be distracted by headline prices.

  2. Set-up fees
    Check what the set-up/installation fee is (you might also need to buy a modem). These fees are often listed separately to the headline price.

  3. Time to be connected
    Ask the provider how long it will take for your new service to be connected.

Download: docxWhich broadband product is right for my business.docx61.82 KB

Download: pdfWhich broadband product is right for my business.pdf336.92 KB

There are a range of different options available to small businesses when it comes to broadband. This tip sheet outlines the questions a small business owner should ask when choosing a broadband product.

When trying to decide which broadband product is right for your business, consider:

  • Which types of broadband services are available? For information on the services that may be available to you, access our brochure: Understanding your options for broadband connection.

  • What type of service would best suit the needs of the business in terms of speed, mobility and monthly data allowance? Refer to your broadband bills from the last 6-12 months to calculate your typical usage.

  • Do you need both phone and broadband services? If so, consider the option of bundling (getting all the services from the same provider). You might also want to include mobile services in this bundle. This could save you money but make sure that all the services meet your needs otherwise you could end up spending more than you need to.

  • Do you need to upload a lot of data? For example if you are operating a video streaming service or other content rich business.

Hand writing 'consumer protection' on clear panel with marker

This tip sheet can help you complain about communications privacy issues such as spam emails, telemarketing and privacy breaches. It can also help you to make complaints about privacy issues with social media websites like Facebook and services that track your location, such as Google Maps.

What is a privacy complaint? 

Australian consumers have the right to make complaints about privacy issues. Privacy issues in the communications sector are becoming more common as we share more information online than ever before. These add to existing privacy issues relating to communications such as spam (unwanted emails from companies and organisations), telemarketing calls and the misuse of silent telephone numbers and personal information.

Free calls to 1800 numbers - A great ACCAN achievement

Download: docHow to avoid 1800 number call charges on mobiles96.5 KB

Download: pdfHow to avoid 1800 number call charges on mobiles338.8 KB

Most Australian mobile providers (but not all) now offer free calls to 1800 numbers. Below is a list of providers that offer these calls for free.

Woman looking concerned about her bills

  1. Be aware that when service providers advertise short term savings, these may not result in long term savings.

  2. Watch that your download limits on your phone and internet are not exceeded. You can do this by using your telco's app or online account.

  3. Start on a low plan and monitor your usage. If you need to you can usually increase your plan without penalty but you can't always decrease it within your contract time.

  4. It is not always necessary to change plan if you keep exceeding your limits, you may simply need to change your calling habits. For example make calls during off-peak times or free hours.

  5. Before signing up for a bundle deal (mobile, Internet and fixed line) consider your average usage and whether this package meets your everyday needs.