New and upgrading Virgin Mobile customers get a second chance to use their spare data.
At some time or another most of us have experienced the annoyance that comes from reaching our limit on fixed or mobile data even though we were well under the cap during the previous month.
Virgin Mobile says less than one in five of its customers use all their data in a given month, but around 40 percent will go over the limit at least once in a six-month period.
And its own research found that 93 percent of Australian smartphone users thought being able to roll over unused data would be of value.
So Virgin Mobile's postpaid plans now roll over unused data from one month to the next. It sounds good, but there are catches.
If you're already on a Virgin Mobile postpaid plan, your unused data won't rollover. So much for the "customer first ethos" that the company proclaims in its employment ads, and for the idea that it's a lot easier and cheaper to keep a customer than to acquire a new one. To get the benefit of data rollover, you need to upgrade, either to a new phone or a more expensive plan.
And any spare data can only be rolled over once. Virgin refers to it as "a second chance to use what you've paid for." Furthermore, the current month's data is used before any that was rolled over.
So if you're on a 2GB plan and you only use 1GB in March, then you'll have 3GB to play with in April. But if you again only use 1GB, you'll still only have 3GB not 4GB in May. So you can't save up your data for a forthcoming business-trip-plus-holiday when you know you'll be making very heavy use of Google Maps and uploading large numbers of photos and video clips.
According to Virgin Mobile's CEO David Scribner, about half of the customers who exceeded their data limits "would have paid nothing or at least reduced excess charges" if the rollover system had been in place.
A similar arrangement already applies to unused call and text value on these postpaid plans, which start at $20 per month on a SIM-only basis or $30 with a phone.