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Don’t be swindled into expensive cell phone contracts

New online tool helps find best package to suit specific voice and data needs.

When it comes to saving money and cutting costs, most financial advisors will tell you not to renew your cell phone contract and switch to prepaid. But this is not necessarily the best option if you still want the latest smartphone. According to Antony Seeff, CEO of cellular savings company Tariffic, networks heavily subside the costs of the expensive handsets when selling you a contract. Also, if your monthly voice calls and data usage are particularly high, prepaid may not be the cheaper way to go.

Tariffic suggests cell phone contracts and networks that are best suited to each consumer’s individual voice and data needs. Initially set up to reduce the cell phone expenses of companies, and take a commission on the savings made to those businesses, the company is now opening its service to South African consumers.

Tariffic’s service is the only one of its kind in South Africa and is run with proprietary software, which goes through each item on a cell phone bill and collates a list of comparative alternatives from each network provider. Seeff says consumers are largely ignorant about their usage and thus do not know which contract would serve them best. This tool is meant to take the guesswork out of a decision that, in effect, should be saving you money and not costing you more.

All you have to do is log onto the website, select which networks you’re interested in, choose the handsets you want, and either upload your latest cell phone bill or input your current voice and data usage. The tool is free to use until April, when consumers may have to pay.

Says Seeff: “There are more than 10 000 combinations of packages and bundles in South Africa… so consumers don’t have a clue [about which one is right one for them].” This makes them an easy target. “Our software tracks every voice minute and megabyte consumed, and compares that to every combination of package, bundle and network that is out on the market.”

Prepaid customers are also encouraged to use the tool, especially if their monthly voice calls and data usage are particularly high, or if they’re looking to get find the most afford package for a new smartphone.

“There’s a misconception in the market that prepaid is the only way to go in order to save money. But often – especially if you’re looking for a handset – the best package and bundles for your specific usage can also save you money. Sometimes it can save you as much as prepaid can, he says.

While the current campaign aims to increase awareness about the company, Seeff says it is more about serving consumers who, for too long have been exploited by the networks. So, even after April, consumers will still be able to use the tool to identify the contract option for free, while paying for additional services.

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You can select the handset you want from a number of websites, pay for it and have it in 3 days. I have done this on numerous occasions and have paid a lot less than through a network. I would rather stay as far from a network as possible and only use pre paid, one of the networks decided I was a goldmine and ploughed into my account via the debit order. Took a letter to a financial publication 8 months after fighting with them, to get them to pay me back and I doubt I was the only one, thank goodness my “nature” does not allow me to get tramped on. I will never have a contract again and will buy what phone I want from an independent supplier. The networks force you to take a certain phone with a certain contract, depending on whether they over ordered, especially after xmas. My wife downsized her contract before cancelling it and when she received the phone, took one look and left it on the counter. 3 years old already.

Had a contract with MTN and they implied that I clicked on some tab on the internet, which I did not. Next thing a company called Oxygen8 deducts R50 per day from my MTN account without notifying me at all. What a shock I got at the end of the month ! After threatening to lay a criminal charge they paid back the money. MTN knew about the deductions but conveniently did not inform me. What a rip off ! MTN will never get my business again. Stay away from contracts. With Cell C, on prepaid, you can buy 1GB for R12.50 between 1am and 7am, now that is a bargain, just get up a little earlier !


…..shouldn’t you be getting shut-eye with your partner between 01:00 and 07:00?

If you getting on and retired you tend to wake up at about 4.00am, nice data time fast.

Or do yourself a favour: buy yourself a decent phone for cash and go for prepaid/ pay-as-you-go. Why allow a supplier to tie you into a contract in the first place, and then give it free access to your bank account? I can’t understand why anyone would want to contract with a service provider when they don’t have to.

Not only MTN. Same experience with Vodacom; eventually left them. They all do it – aggressive predatory marketing, and monopolistic manipulation of product offerings. Yesterday I was told it costs same/month for a non-contract prepay data than the same monthly data with a “free” router on a 24 month contract! Meaning they purpusely overcharge you on the prepay to lock you to into a 24 month contract. Only way to resolve this is better consumer protection regulation to stop effective collusion and market manipulation as there is not enough competition. Must say that Cell-C have very good pre-pay products

Cellphone contracts are the biggest ripoffs you can lose your money on. Just like Taylormade golf clubs, every six months, a new greater, better and more expensive model hits the market. Can you really use all the features and apps that are available on either Android or IOS. The answer is NO. So why do you need a new Samsung S7 costing R15000 that can do the same as your Samsung S4 that is still in great shape. Maybe some people feel important and hip if asked …. Is that the latest S7/iPhone?

The answer to your question is that people want to be seen to be hip with the latest and most modern cell phone. People have become so gullible to the networks and the manufacturers, and totally overlook the real reason for buying a “new” smart phone, which is to receive/make calls and communicate via sms. When cell phones were first introduced people complained that they were so large, today the smart phone are starting to resemble the bricks of the early ’80’s – go figure

Ok, that’s it! My contract is coming up for ‘renewal’ soon. It will be cancelled and I’m on pay-as-you-go. My phone is an older ‘smart’ phone and can do just about everything the newer ones can, you know, calls, emails, whatsapp, sms’s, is there really anything else? Oh yeah, battery life… 3/4/5 days on one charge is what it’s about, not 6 hours. (6 hours?!! Seriously?) What about data you say… that’s what I have my PC with 22″ screen for.

I will never again touch a cell phone contract with a ”pair of pliers”

My wife’s MTN cellphone contract came up for renewal two months ago, and she informed them that she won’t renew it. Hr average monthly bill was R 900 on average.

She received a lot of calls to renew her contract from different people.

Big was her surprise when she received her last two statements….her last two accounts was more than R7.000 Their explanation was that she ”used a lot of data” !

Same experience, my average for two years was R850 odd, I downgrade to something cheaper and the next bill is R2400!!! Now prepaid, about R100 a month.

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