As Dumb as a Dodo Customer

Competition in the Australian telecommunications industry has arguably resulted in cheaper prices for consumers and, also arguably, delayed investment in infrastructure while simultaneously resulting in much inefficient duplication. There can be little argument, however, that it has resulted in some of the most aggressive and deceptive marketing this country has seen.

Dodo

Tactics largely revolve around creating a bewildering array of minutely differing deals that resist easy consumer comparisons, and offering things up-front for free while locking customers into expensive plans for a year or two. Then there’s the industry-wide insistence on describing broadband (ha!) download speeds in ‘bits’ which are but one eighth of a ‘byte’ which is what everyone thinks they’re talking about.

It’d be cruel to pick on one operator in particular, and we love being cruel so let’s pick on Dodo. They’re currently running blanket ads with the stunning claim of a free broadband service. As with most of these types of ads, there’s a lot of unreadable fine print down the bottom of the screen, so what’s the catch?

It’s a bit like all those rug sales. Have you ever turned up to a rug shop on the first morning of the sale, only to be told that all the really cheap rugs that were advertised have been sold already? Checking out Dodo’s price/plan page reveals one plan out of about 30 that is ‘free’. It offers a piddling 150 MByte download via ADSL2.

The first catch is that ADSL2 is not available everywhere – you must live within around six kilometres of an appropriate exchange. I followed the sign-up procedure through and was advised that the service isn’t available here in Reid, barely one kilometre from the Canberra GPO (and just around the corner from a rug shop).

Second is that download speeds from ADSL2 vary greatly with: distance to the exchange, quality of copper wire, what your neighbours are doing on the phone and interference from nearby electronic motors etc. (sounds a lot like the broadband network the Federal Govt. is foisting on us). At least Internode explains this with its plan.

Third, that 150 MB monthly download limit translates to around 40 mp3 songs (my own monthly downloads average 6 GB), after which you’re done with the free bit and start paying an unspecified sum for downloads (at an unspecified reduced speed) up to a maximum of $29.99, comparable with most standard broadband plans. Further into the registration process, you discover that half your broadband downloads are peak, the other half non-peak. Presumably this means you have 75 Mbits of peak time (unspecified) download, after which dial-up speeds would apply.

Fourth, it’s about as free as the free porn one regularly looks for on the internet and never finds despite unearthing 70 million search results. All of Dodo’s broadband plans include locking you into a minimum 12 month home telephone plan. If you don’t take the phone, add $10/mth to the cost.

Fifth, delivery of a modem and router will cost $174.80, way at the high end of set-up costs, which other operators often waive. And lastly, delivery of your monthly bill costs $1.10.

Clearly there is deception in claiming this product as free. I just rang the ACCC and complained. I was advised that if there is a pattern of conduct, ie. they receive a number of complaints, they will act. Feel free to call 1300 302 502 and complain.

2 Responses to “As Dumb as a Dodo Customer”

  1. I followed the sign-up procedure through and was advised that the service isn????????t available here in Reid

    Clearly just another reason to not choose Dodo. ADSL 2+ relies on the individual ISP having their own equipment in your telephone exchange. Reid runs off the Civic Exchange (confusingly located in Braddon), and four ISPs have placed their ADSL 2+ equipment in it:
    Agile
    iiNet/Powertel
    Optus
    TPG

    Of course these ISPs do resell the services of their equipment on to other ISPs. The easiest way to see who services your area is to enter your phone number at http://whirlpool.net.au

  2. Did you ring the ACCC for me Samuel?