VoIP Plan decommissioning

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fsm
Posts: 77
Joined: Thu Apr 01, 2010 10:46 pm
Location: Aus

VoIP Plan decommissioning

Post by fsm » Wed Mar 14, 2012 3:45 am

I'm disappointed that Exetel are terminating their $0/month plans.
Obviously, Exetel are not a charity so I take no issue with their decision to terminate an unprofitable plan,
but I think these plans could easily have been made more profitable, so I hope, but I have little confidence,
that other alternatives were considered for increasing VoIP profitability.

Many of us, perhaps the majority do not require an individual DID number. Clearly, DIDs are the most significant costs for low usage accounts.

Rather than terminating $0/month plans - the DID requirement should be dropped from all plans and made a chargeable option or simply not available on the "free" plans. Optionally, shared access numbers with extension dialing provided by IVR could be made available to ease some of the pain to those who cannot justify a DID.

While untimed calls are a great feature provided by VoIP providers, consideration should be given to making interstate calls timed. Long untimed calls are unprofitable for VoIP providers, so untimed calls are only profitable for a provider if a customer averages sufficiently short call lengths. However, since timed calls are a disincentive to many VoIP users, limiting this measure to calls made through web callback may better target users who make long calls. According to a provider who once withdrew a similar service, this type of service attracts longer calls unlike IP only services. Certainly, for most users who only use callback it is pointless to use callback for local calls.

If lack of usage is an issue there are a number of ways Exetel's VoIP service could be enhanced to increase usage.

In order of personal importance - no doubt others have a different ordering, I see these as:
* Allow web callback to be used for international calls
* Make ANI callback available on all VOIP plans at the normal rates rather than requiring purchase of the differently charged VOIP calling card. For various reasons some people cannot access VoIP over IP. ANI callback from a regular handsets with the Exetel access number on speed dial is probably the easiest way to access VoIP after a dedicated VoIP hardware set up, (Actually specialised dialler devices which hide the callback entirely make it even easier). Allowing in-dial access numbers in addition to the regular callback numbers would contribute a little extra usage and be a selling point of the Exetel service and provide a replacement to a use case of number forwarding
* Provide mechanisms so all user can have easy access to CLI overstamping. This is more important for mobile broadband users,
* Provide further codec choice. Availability of low bandwidth codecs is desirable to enable use of free soft phones, Alternatively, Exetel could provide a desktop, say Java version, of its MOIP application
* Provide untimed calls for some international destinations
* Lower prices. To many (most?) destinations Exetel is more expensive than the king of the low cost providers - Pennytel. Many people find people Pennytel works well enough for them to be used as their primary provider. If Exetel met my needs above I would certainly use them in preference to Pennytel - as I've yet to find another VoIP provider that meets my needs other than reliability as well as Pennytel.

gong_guy
Posts: 210
Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2004 11:06 am

Re: VoIP Plan decommissioning

Post by gong_guy » Wed Mar 14, 2012 10:23 am

I also would welcome a basic DID less plan.

Such a plan could charge only for calls, it could also send your landline number as the callIng number. Make calls a little more expensive, say 12cents.

I make few calls a month, maybe 10, but they are STD calls of maybe 20minutes which are expensive on the landline.

Anyway, as they say, please consider.

spence
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Feb 17, 2011 6:32 pm
Location: Melbourne

Re: VoIP Plan decommissioning

Post by spence » Wed Mar 14, 2012 8:38 pm

I also request reconsider.
More often than not my usage is way under $5.00.

fsm
Posts: 77
Joined: Thu Apr 01, 2010 10:46 pm
Location: Aus

Re: VoIP Plan decommissioning

Post by fsm » Thu Mar 15, 2012 3:23 am

I've had a close look at the conversion thresholds and believe they are misguided if not downright predatory - in my opinion a fairer method would be to move customers above the minimum spend threshold to RV5. I personally would have chosen a higher minimum spend threshold than a mere cent, and be inclined to make multiple attempts to contact those facing disconnection but I suppose the argument can be made that any usage indicates intent to maintain service but then again one can argue that reception of a single call indicates this as well.

For example, a user with a spend of $10.10 will face a spend of between $15 to more than $25.10 - had they been moved to RV5, their spend would range from $9 to more than $15.10.

To pick an example most favorable to Exetel, consider a user who makes 225 fixed line calls, this previously cost them $22.50 on RV0.
The published rules convert them to RV15 lowering their spend to $15 (and giving them an additional 25 free fixed line calls)
Had they been converted to RV5 as I suggest, their spend would still be lowered but only to $21.50.

On the other hand a user who makes just 25 more fixed line calls - moves to RV30 resulting in a an extra $15 spend,
$6 more than they would have spent than they would spend on RV5..

But one cannot assume that a $22.50 spend equal 225 calls - none of these calls might be fixed line calls so bumping up to a higher plan shouldn't be done merely on average spend. Averages are themselves less than usefull if a users calling patterns are widely variable.

I hope the default conversion by Exetel is a mistake rather than a lapse in their ethical standards. That would be a tactic worthy of a banks rather than what I expect from Exetel. I leave it for others such as the ACCC to judge whether the statement "[if you do nothing] you will be converted to a current Exetel VoIP plan that suits [your] average monthly determined spend pattern" is misleading conduct.

ExetelVoice
Exetel Staff
Posts: 359
Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2004 5:43 pm

Re: VoIP Plan decommissioning

Post by ExetelVoice » Thu Mar 15, 2012 9:05 am

Thank you for your input. There are many and varied ways the conversion thresholds could have been done.

fsm - We thought these a fair way but it would be simply impossible to keep each and every one of the customers affected by this - happy. Clearly you are one of the unhappy ones. Customers have plenty of notice to make their own comparison on their own specfic VoIP call spend and can change to whichever VoIP plan suits them best. They can also disconnect. Exetel have been transparent with the options available. There is no subversive intention to 'penalise' anyone.

If we implemented timed national calls that would be completely uncompetitive in the VoIP market and many many customers would complain.

We may consider some of those options you listed.

Please remember, the vast majority of the 000's of VoIP customers affected are not spending anything. That's $0.00 per month. This carries a wholesale cost to Exetel which we are not able to charge for. A cost we are no longer willing to bear. These customers will simply be disconnected as they obviously have no need for their service. The thinking is, if you have a VoIP service then it should be used and a $5 minimum per month is not too much too ask. If there are other VoIP providers that give a better plan deal, there is nothing stopping you moving to them.

vegemitekid
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Aug 05, 2009 5:19 pm

Re: VoIP Plan decommissioning

Post by vegemitekid » Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:51 pm

I would agree it is worth splitting the DID from the actual voip calls. I have used other voip providers who charge an annual fee for DID's and then provide plans for the actual calls ($5/month is too much - perhaps $5 or $10 annually per DID). Not sure what the cost of voip DID's are but I would have thought they would be a lot less than $5/month.

On a similar note I've received notice about $5/month for Fax DID's and service (at that price it will be cheaper buying a fax machine!). Again would it make more sense to charge something more commensurate with the cost? Possibly on an annual basis?

fsm
Posts: 77
Joined: Thu Apr 01, 2010 10:46 pm
Location: Aus

Re: VoIP Plan decommissioning

Post by fsm » Sun Mar 18, 2012 2:51 am

ExetelVoice wrote:Thank you for your input. There are many and varied ways the conversion thresholds could have been done. ... There is no subversive intention to 'penalise' anyone.
Perhaps you can explain how the values for the thresholds were chosen and the rationale for promoting a customer's plan multiple levels to eliminate any lingering suspicions that the conversion algorithm is biased to benefit Exetel at the expense of customers.

I'm convinced that your plan to migrate customers to new plans based on their spend levels is flawed and will possibly cause you unnecessary grief with the authorities. As much as we can divine the intent of people who don't make a choice, a reasonable assumption is that they chose the RV0 plan because they thought that plan best suited their usage patterns - they want a plan with a minimal spend when not used and without included calls. RV5 is now the closest plan fitting these criteria. Now, RV0 may not actually have suited them in the past, but even if you could determine which plan best suits their past usage (and average usage amounts don't do that), you don't have license to increase the minimum spends of customers differently based on past behaviour and override their implicit preferences,

Thinking about it differently, your problem is that RV0 is not profitable enough. You could have simply left that plan and increased its minimum monthly charges and calls costs - moving everyone to RV5 is equivalent to that. Instead for reasons yet to be explained Exetel is treating customers differently with some customers having their minimum spends greatly increased with no benefit to them.

As you said you'll probably get complaints whatever you do, which action do you think is more defensible:
a) You didn't choose the best new plan for customers because you moved all RV0 customers to the next plan up.
b) You increased charges more than necessary for some customers because you moved them to a plan greatly different from their current plan based on some arbitrary criteria.
I realise that customers can choose to determine their fates but the reality is that many won't make a choice. While it would be best if Exetel contacted these people via phone, in the absence of doing that, the conversion needs to be based on doing least harm - one that is conservative and treats users equally.
If we implemented timed national calls that would be completely uncompetitive in the VoIP market and many many customers would complain.
I'm sure the majority prefer untimed calls, but I'm sure people would accept a $0/month DIDless VoIP plan with timed calls, if timed calls were the only way this plan could be made profitable. Pennytel, for example, now only offer a $0/month DIDless account with timed calls to new customers. Some people who know they are making short enough calls want a product with timed calls, possibly to be used together with another product for untimed calls.
A compromise is to follow the fixed line model and have untimed 'local' calls together with timed 'STD' calls. You are of course also competing with wireline and mobile telcos too. Another compromise is to put a cap on a timed calls, say timed 'STD' calls capped at 30c.

We may consider some of those options you listed.
Thanks, but I 'd hope that you will consider all the options I've raised and possibly implement some of them.
Please remember, the vast majority of the 000's of VoIP customers affected are not spending anything. That's $0.00 per month. This carries a wholesale cost to Exetel which we are not able to charge for.
I don't expect to get something for nothing and personally I would have used the service exclusively in preference to the cheaper provider I use, were it not for the various limitations of your service I noted in my previous posting, Obviously, some of your expenses are for DID charges, but if your provider is imposing other significant charges for customers who are not making making any use of their facilities in any way (and I include SIP registration) perhaps you need to find a different provider or have some more of your own equipment so you can lower these per customer charges.
A cost we are no longer willing to bear. These customers will simply be disconnected as they obviously have no need for their service. The thinking is, if you have a VoIP service then it should be used and a $5 minimum per month is not too much too ask. If there are other VoIP providers that give a better plan deal, there is nothing stopping you moving to them.
I understand your motivations and don't begrudge Exetel trying to make the service profitable, I simply ask that you look at how you can make the "free" service profitable and if that is not an option make the default transition fair and equitable. Isn't it better for Exetel to make a little money from low volume users too, who do not have the call volumes to justify a minimum of $5/month to gain access to cheap calls. While there are sufficient $0 deals out there, my preference is for one with a provider that I'm already in a business relationship with,

IanS
Posts: 268
Joined: Fri Jun 25, 2004 11:32 pm
Location: Newcastle

Re: VoIP Plan decommissioning

Post by IanS » Sun Mar 18, 2012 8:13 pm

vegemitekid wrote:I would agree it is worth splitting the DID from the actual voip calls. I have used other voip providers who charge an annual fee for DID's and then provide plans for the actual calls ($5/month is too much - perhaps $5 or $10 annually per DID). Not sure what the cost of voip DID's are but I would have thought they would be a lot less than $5/month.
After recommending Exetel to all of my friends & setting them up on VoIP, most of my calls are VoIP to VoIP. I certainly don't make 60 national calls per month.
I'd prefer to be charged a "reasonable" fee for a DID, then pay for the actual calls made.

vegemitekid wrote:On a similar note I've received notice about $5/month for Fax DID's and service (at that price it will be cheaper buying a fax machine!). Again would it make more sense to charge something more commensurate with the cost? Possibly on an annual basis?
It will workout cheaper to have fax duet put back on ($3/mth) & start using WinFax again, for the odd fax to be received.

fsm
Posts: 77
Joined: Thu Apr 01, 2010 10:46 pm
Location: Aus

Re: VoIP Plan decommissioning

Post by fsm » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:16 pm

IanS wrote: It will workout cheaper to have fax duet put back on ($3/mth) & start using WinFax again, for the odd fax to be received.
Did you remember to add in the cost to keep of keeping the PC running all month? :wink:
I don't think fax duet is an option for those on Optus DSLAMs ...
Not having duet would eventually pay for a fax machine - some fax machines will synthesise a ring tone if they do not detect a calling fax (does WinFax do that?) - probably a hassle if your phone is nowhere near your fax or if you share a home with technophobes.

slave1
Posts: 96
Joined: Tue Aug 26, 2008 5:59 pm
Location: Toowoomba QLD

Re: VoIP Plan decommissioning

Post by slave1 » Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:14 am

Also, what happened to Exetel's VP1 plan under Manage Services > Add-On Service Packs?

sireddie
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:51 am
Location: Sydney (metro)

Re: VoIP Plan decommissioning

Post by sireddie » Wed Mar 28, 2012 4:27 pm

I'm in the category (one of the 000's I assume) that only use VoIP for expensive calls, i.e. international calls to landlines/mobiles. Since I only call internationally from time to time, I find it upsetting that I am now forced to pay $5/month for the service. I dont care about DID. Please make a $0 plan without DID and with perhaps higher call rates.

ExetelVoice
Exetel Staff
Posts: 359
Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2004 5:43 pm

Re: VoIP Plan decommissioning

Post by ExetelVoice » Thu Mar 29, 2012 9:12 am

Also, what happened to Exetel's VP1 plan under Manage Services > Add-On Service Packs?
We will look into it and put it back if what you say is true.
I'm in the category (one of the 000's I assume) that only use VoIP for expensive calls, i.e. international calls to landlines/mobiles. Since I only call internationally from time to time, I find it upsetting that I am now forced to pay $5/month for the service. I dont care about DID. Please make a $0 plan without DID and with perhaps higher call rates.
Exetel is no longer in the position to be able to give away for nothing a service that carries a wholesale cost.
We have an online calling card service you may like to consider for your situation:
http://www.exetel.com.au/calling-card-info.php

sireddie
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:51 am
Location: Sydney (metro)

Re: VoIP Plan decommissioning

Post by sireddie » Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:17 pm

Thanks for the suggestion. However, at up to 4x the rates of calls, plus the inconvenience not being able to use the service abroad, doesn't make it a viable option for me.

I did however find an service from PennyTel that gives me what I want, no monthly fee at slightly higher rates.

davo
Posts: 37
Joined: Sat May 22, 2004 4:10 pm

Re: VoIP Plan decommissioning

Post by davo » Fri Mar 30, 2012 7:06 am

I didn't know about the calling card service but it's no good for regional areas as the local call access numbers are only in the capital cities.

Pennytel have a prepaid service for $0/mth minimum charge which does the job. Could Exetel create their own version of this perhaps for those that want $0 minimum charge VOIP service?

ExetelVoice
Exetel Staff
Posts: 359
Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2004 5:43 pm

Re: VoIP Plan decommissioning

Post by ExetelVoice » Fri Mar 30, 2012 3:42 pm

Pennytel have a prepaid service for $0/mth minimum charge which does the job. Could Exetel create their own version of this perhaps for those that want $0 minimum charge VOIP service?
I don't understand? A prepaid service for $0.00? Usually 'prepaid' means you need to prepay an amount.

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