Running a small-ish business? Vodafone wants your love

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Running a small-ish business? Vodafone wants your love

Vodafone is offering new discounts to businesses with at least five mobile connections, but there are some significant limitations.

Vodafone is discounting its Red Business Grow plans by 25 percent for businesses with between five and nine connections, and by 50 percent for a minimum of ten connections.

According to ABS figures for June 2014, that effectively rules out as many as 88 per cent of all Australian small businesses, as 61 per cent of actively trading businesses had no employees (eg, they were sole traders) and another 27% had between one and four employees.

Another way to look at the numbers is that only 10% of actively trading businesses have between five and 19 employees.

But if you do have an appropriate number of phones to take advantage of Vodafone's discount, there are still some hurdles.

To start with, the $50 Red Business Grow plan is excluded, probably because it's available on a month-by-month basis and the discounts only apply to 24 month contracts. The $70 plan - the minimum for the discount - has the same inclusions (eg, unlimited national calls and SMSes, plus 3GB of data) according to Vodafone's web site, but it adds a $250 'technology fund credit' towards handsets on a 'use it or lose it' basis. So smaller customers pay an extra $360 (24x$20, less 25% discount) to get $250 back, which doesn't strike us as a great deal. At least those with 10 or more phones are $10 better off (after the discount they pay $240 more on the $70 plan than on the $50 one, but get $250 credit).

According to Vodafone's press release, the discount offer applies to new and upgrading but apparently not renewing customers, so if you're already on one or more Red Business Grow plans you'll need to spend more to qualify for the discount. It seems that the real aim is to attract customers from other networks rather than solidifying existing relationships, as Vodafone points out that businesses moving from Telstra Go Business 24 month plans "could be up to $1,680 per connection better off."

The discount only lasts for the 24 month contract, and only applies where five or more Red Business Grow plans are taken out in a single transaction before 30 September 2015. The plans are subject to the usual customer approval process, and customers must have an ACN or ABN.

So our point is that while this offer may be a good deal in some situations, it's important to look at what you need and what else is available on the market. But at the low end - plans offering unlimited national calls and texts with 2GB or so of data for around $30 a month - beware of "personal use only" or similar clauses in the fine print.

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