Brisbane-based telco Vaya offers some pretty cheap SIM-only mobile phone plans, but how does it stack up against the numerous other MVNOs that fit the same description?
The truth is: Vaya prices stacks up pretty well indeed. Whether you want a really low-cost monthly plan, or something with a fair bit of data, Vaya is right on the money.
You may have heard that Vaya has bad customer service, which was definitely the case just a few years ago. However, Vaya was acquired by it competitor Amaysim at the beginning of 2016 -- a company with an outstanding reputation for customer service. We noticed improvements straight away, with the new management removing a number of extra fees:
- SIM delivery fees have been removed
- $20 customer deposit has been removed
- $10 plan change admin fee has been halved to $5
Before we get into the number-crunching, we might begin with this definition. An MVNO is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator, meaning they offer a service similar to an actual network owner/operator, without having ownership over the infrastructure.
To do this, MVNOs buy service in bulk from the network owners, in this case Optus, and the savings are passed on to their customers. Typically, MVNOs are much smaller businesses, with lower operational overheads to consider, so they can afford to offer the same basic services for a fraction of the price.
So, how does Vaya stack up?
As you may know, the SIM-only, BYO phone telco space in Australia is extremely competitive. It is so easy to grab a new SIM, transfer your number over and be using a new service provider in just a few hours. Therefore, the telcos need to make sure they have the best deals in town.
Vaya is best for smartphone owners with low to moderate use, especially with regards to mobile data.
In comparison to the competition, Vaya's plans are most appealing when comparing plans below $30 per month. These cheaper plans are excellent value, and even though the plan range is so simple, there is something for anyone looking for a cheap, basic phone service.
If you're shopping around, we'd suggest keeping the names of a few other MVNOs in mind. Amaysim is great value and has outstanding customer service, Boost Mobile is youth-focused telco on the Telstra network, and Jeenee Mobile has great plans on the Optus 4G network plus gives a portion of its profits to supporting people living with disabilities.
If you have family and friends overseas, the Vaya XL Plan includes unlimited to ten countries: China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, UK and USA.
This is excellent value for a plan costing from $36 per month, though it worth noting that you can't send SMS or MMS to these countries. These messages cost extra.
Comparatively, these are pretty generous inclusions. A number of the other telcos offer international calls at around the same price, but very few have unlimited calling minutes.
Price Beat Guarantee
Vaya's Price Beat Guarantee is a unique offer in the Aussie mobile space, and shows the company's confidence in its plan range. Basically, if you can find a comparable plan at a cheaper price, the Vaya team will discount your plan with them for as long as you decide to remain a cusotmer.
It is worth noting the terms 'comparable plan.' To qualify for the offer, the competitor's plan must offer all of the same benefits and inclusions. For example, Vaya runs on the Optus 4G Plus network, so the plan you find must also be offered on a 4G network, with the same calling and data values, for a cheaper price.
We've recently updated this article to reflect a big swing in customer sentiment in favour of Vaya. When Amaysim bought Vaya at the start of 2016, the team had their work cut out for them.
At the time, Vaya had a record number of complaints for a telco of its size. While exact numbers are difficult to come by, we estimate that Vaya had between five and six times more compaints to the Telecommunication Ombudsmann per subscriber on the network.
Forum members on Whirlpool had clocked up tens of thousands of posts discussing Vaya, with much of the discussion focusing on poor customer service. One rerecurring issue in the threads is about how difficult customers have found it to have Vaya refund their $20 security deposit and payment in advance for service after deciding to leave the telco.
But as we mentioned earlier, this was all before the Amaysim team took the helm, and the turn around since that time has been impressive. In the most recent Ombudsmann report, the industry average was 6.4 complaints per 10,000 subscribers. Vaya reported just 4.4 complaints per 10,000. Many of the extra fees charged by Vaya, including its notorious $20 security despoit, have been scrapped.
This isn't to say that Vaya has a spotless service record -- no telco does. But it certainly gives us more confidence in recommending them. Especially if you're looking to save a bunch of money on your phone bill each month.
Friends with phone image via Shutterstock