kogansim

Late last year, Kogan entered the Australian telecommunications business as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator, offering a number of attractive plans that promised to deliver services to Australian consumers at a rate befitting the company’s name. Could Australia’s disruptive entrepreneur, Ruslan Kogan, break into one of the toughest spaces and make a name for himself?

The service was unique at the time – while other MVNOs piggybacked on Optus or Vodafone’s networks, Kogan was one of the first companies to purchase access to Telstra’s wholesale 3G network – this isn’t the same network that runs Telstra’s Next G service, though, and Kogan purchases their access to the network through a wholesaler called ispONE. This sounds complicated, but it’s an important distinction.

When Kogan originally announced pricing for their service, I decided to join. I was with Vodafone on an expired contract and was waiting for a service to really push me over the edge to prompt change – after all, I was a hapy Vodafone customer with a number of services to my name.

What made me change? Two things: Price and Coverage. Let’s get into what makes the Kogan Mobile an attractive deal — and a good one, at that.

Pros

  • Cheap Pre-Paid deals
  • Unlimited Access & large data allowance
  • Great Coverage
  • Great mobile app

Cons

  • Slow customer service
  • Porting related issues
  • No 12 month Data Only option

Signup Process

The thing that dawned on me straight away was Kogan’s extremely simple sign up process. Once you have received your SIM – which costs $4.99, and also gives you 100 minutes, 100 SMSs and 100MB of data – you go to the Kogan Mobile website, click on Activate Your Sim, follow the prompts and within 5 minutes your service is ready to be provisioned, and will normally be activated between 15 minutes to a few hours from that point.

Porting your number is easy, and is also done during the signup process. You can either select a Pre-Paid plan during signup, or select the trial offer and change to a Pre-Paid plan at a later date – either online, through your newly-created account, or through the Kogan Mobile App available on the Google Play store.

Plans and Pricing

plans

Kogan offers customers 2 main deals – an all-inclusive offer (voice, text and data services), and a data-only plan. The all-inclusive deal is available in three variants: ACCESS 30, ACCESS 90 and ACCESS 365. As the names suggest, they provide the same deal – Unlimited Calls, Unlimited Texts and 6GB of data per month – for either 30, 90 or 365 days cost of $29, $79 and $299 respectively. The data only plan (“DATA 30″) provides you with 2GB of data for 30 days and costs $9.99 – surprisingly, it’s only available to purchases in 30 day intervals, unlike the all-inclusive plans.

The Companion App

Kogan offers iOS and Android apps, through which you can recharge and make changes to your account. You’re given a complete readout of your account-related information: days remaining until your credit expires, voice minutes and SMS remaining on the trial plan, or the amount of data remaining from your 6GB on an all-inclusive plan. For some reason, it also gives you access to Kogan’s online store.

koganapp1koganapp2

The app suffered some serious issues in their early days – it would crash upon login on a number of handsets including my Galaxy Nexus, but once this was fixed the app was a joy to use.

You can do just about anything you could want to through the app… except, lodge a support ticket. I’ll talk about support tickets and customer service a little later on.

Coverage

Coverage is the other main reason for my change, even though Kogan only uses about 6,600 of Telstra’s 850Mhz ‘NextG’ 3G towers (about 1,500 short of Telstra’s entire network), the coverage is great. Speeds aren’t as fast as Telstra’s network either, as it’s capped at 7.2Mbps. This means no Dual Channel HSPA, and of course no 4G LTE.

Melbourne DataPerth Data

That said, the service still manages to provide decent speeds, and covers about 98.5% of the population. This is better than Optus’ and Vodafone’s current network coverage, and considering the price it’s possibly the best deal going around right now – even with Aldi entering the fray.

coverage

On a trip from Pinjarra (80km souht of Perth) down to Denmark, I lost coverage maybe 3-4 times for a period of 5 minutes each – not that bad really, and much better then the Vodafone iPhone my other half had with her (which barely had coverage outside of major towns).

Recharge issues

Kogan has had fairly well-publicised problems with their recharge processes since launch, and I found myself right in the middle of it all.

I’d ported my number from Vodafone, and the porting process had completed in about 20 minutes (a normal timeframe). The phone worked fine – voice, text and data were functioning without issue – but when the 10 days expired and I tried to recharge, my credit was put into what they called Pending status. I recieved a message on my phone through the app that my credit would be applied in 30 minutes but 2 hours later my credit this hadn’t happened yet, and I was still “Pending”. I decided to call Kogan to try to resolve the problem.

After listening to Maneater 5000 times (the only music they have on hold), after 50 minutes I was still waiting to talk to someone. The recorded on-hold message suggested I submit a support ticket as this was the quickest way to fix and address any issues, so I did.

At about 8:30AM the next morning, my recharge had still not been applied, nor had I recieved a reply from my support ticket (the quickest was to fix and address any issues, remember?). It was a Saturday morning, and I assumed that it would be applied on Monday. Within the next few hours though, the credit had finally been applied but I still had no response to my support ticket.

It wasn’t until a few days later that I received the following response:

Dear Lucas Burnett,

There was a fault with your service that was escalated to the network carrier.

I trust that this has been resolved and that the Access30 plan has now been added to your services.

I apologise for the delay. This was a network provider issue affecting the transfer of your service from the starter pack to the Access30, and will not be an issue for your future extensions of your access.

With cheap services like this, there’s always going to be something that is skimped on – most of the time, it’s customer service. In Kogan’s case, this is a double-edged sword. You can really only talk to their staff via the Support Ticket system, as calling can be extremely hit or miss. However, when they have an issue with the wholesale provider (in this case, ispONE), it seems there is little they can do other than wait for their network provider to fix the issue. It’s also notable that they’re referring to their provider as “the network carrier” instead of referring to them by name.

Excessive Data

The other issue that has surrounded Kogan’s service concerns data and call usage. There have been incidents of some users being cut off or disconnected due to an apparent violation of Kogan’s “fair use” policy. Most carriers have some kind of policy in place, but it seems that Kogan’s is quite strict.

Kogan’s main limitation applies to data usage – if more then 400 MB of data is used per-day for 3 consecutive days, the customer runs the risk of being disconnected. A number of people have raised issues with this, and Kogan themselves have taken the wholesale provider ispONE to court – a battle they won – after they forcibly disconnected hundreds of customers, and flagged others as “ineligible” for renewal.

Final Word

I have nothing really bad to say about Kogan’s service – the coverage is good, the speed is good enough, and other then the fuss surrounding my recharge issues, I’ve had no problems with the service. The mobile app works well, and gives me access to all the information I need, but it does need the ability to raise support tickets – this should be an easy fix.

If you need good decent coverage at a rock bottom price, Kogan currently beats out all others.

Final word? Go and get it, it’s worth every cent for a pre-paid plan.

  • evan

    Yeah was going sign up with Kogan but given they only offer 400mb per day I will pay the little extra and go with Boost!!

  • tom

    waste service Ever seen ,Do not join with them,real Cheating .Fair use policy trap.just offer 6 gb useless offer .i used few months kogan ,simply they blocking mobile internet ,answer from kogan i used my daily limit 400 MB then ask them what i need to do for extension .then recommenced me topup for three month spend another 79,after 10 days again blocked i asked them why u blocking ,no option for extension .that time my usage balance near 5gb. Bu….. sh………

    Also voice mail blockage every time with in 1 month 3 time voice mail blocked .

    Call centre very worse.bye bye kogggggan .trapping Australian people.where is australian consumer law.

  • Linden

    I switch from vodafone to kogan. I paid for access 365 to get a cheaper deal. And now I just found out I can’t use it to send text to overseas. I never realised that a phone network that can’t send international texts.

  • Mark

    Vodafone users can not call, sms or contact Kogan users. I have 2 friends on Vodafone who are unable to contact me. I have visited 3 Vodafone dealers and asked them to call me Kogan mobile number. None were able to connect. They all get the message my number has been disconnect.

  • OH

    Don’t use Kogan; service is really really bad. I haven’t had service for 13 days now and they make no effort to fix it.

    My issue was sim failed which took 12 days to send and in order to cut cost they send a nano sim which fits into pockets so I have an micro slot. The problem is it’s jammed my iphone 4 and it’s saying in valid sim.

    If you call them they don’t answer; wait 20 minutes and they hang up. I even tried the call back service 10 days ago and still waiting.

  • Geoff

    both myself and my daughter have changed to Kogan from Telstra and wow, you cant fault them i cant recommend them more highly

  • azzy

    Switched from optus best thing ive ever done

  • azzy

    The best plan out there super fast number port. Excellent coverage! 100% happy. ..

  • Maria

    I have ordered the sim pack and waiting for it’s arrival. After reading some post in regards to recharging, I asked if you recharge before the expirey date will that affect it in any way? Carley responded that if you recharged early it will continue from the expirey date and not when you recharge. That might be an option for ppl to do…has anyone tried this method before? :)

  • glen 712867

    I am currently in a dispute with KoganMobile over their recharge policy. I bought a 12month Access365 plan, & when I used my 1st month’s 6Gb quota within 2 weeks received an SMS informing me that my “Data Access has been used up. Please extend…”. No problem yet. But when I did “extend” my access by purchasing an Access30 plan, I found that my remaining 11 months on the Access365 plan had been cancelled. Their help line said it would take management up to 2 weeks to respond to my request to reinstate the Access365 plan. Their invitation to me to “extend”, which lead to their cancellation of a $274 worth of my paid-up service, has lead me to lodge a complaint with http://www.accc.gov.au/

    • http://ausdroid.net/ Chris

      Without knowing the details I expect the wording in their terms and conditions suggests that this will happen.. but still, I would have thought it appropriate for them to warn you that this might happen before just blindly letting you proceed. I hope it resolves in your favour.

      • Glen

        Yes, the Ts+Cs… I found the wording confusing. Their prepaid terms say “If you top-up with a different prepaid voucher, you will forfeit all remaining credit on your current plan.” For all the other telcos I know, “voucher” is something you buy over the counter at a newsagent, etc. and is contrasted with credit card. I “extended” with credit card, but KoganMobile seem to considered this a “voucher”, although none of their correspondence–the offer, the receipt, etc–with me has mentioned “voucher”. & far from warning, they INVITED me to “extend”, which is why I think they have been profitably deceptive.

  • No One

    After switching over from VirginMobile to Kogan SIM, I found myself disconnected it after 1st recharge. It is nightmare for recharge. When you run out of credit you want to recharge to use right away not wait 1 day to get it.

  • http://espadav8.co.uk Andrew

    I switched from Telstra (in Brisbane) and other than a delay with the initial port (took 2-3 days I think, a issue with Telstra I was told) everything has been fine. Coverage is great, download speeds are more than fast enough for browsing and whatnot.

  • BigEars528

    After 4 years of Vodafail my family made the switch to the TPG plan detailed by OzBoy08, except as current TPG adsl2+ customers we pay $15 for identical value. It’s pretty good value, and the only issue I have is my Desire Z doesn’t have the battery life to sustain 3G (which I’ve never been able to use before on a company plan that never provided it)

  • OzBoy08

    At least you got a quickish reply to your ticket. I lodged a ticket on 4th of April and finally got a reply this evening (6th May). The worst part, the email didn’t even answer the question I asked in April. Some people might switch to Kogan due to pricing but I don’t think I will as I still do value good customer service, something Kogan Mobile (must stress the mobile part as their Kogan Store people are brilliant) does not understand. Might port to TPG as they have a $18 plan with 1.5GB of data and no daily limits like Kogan Mobile does.

  • Auna

    Telstra Prepaid is way better. $50 on the Encore plan gives you unlimited calls text and mms from 6pm to 6am and you also get $950 dollars of cap credit. You also get 800MB included by default. You also get $50 of real credit. For example you can get a 3GB data pack with $49 of that credit.

    With Telstra Prepaid you can get recharges cheaper for example from Coles Express atms you get 15% off making a recharge cost $42.50.

    Then you need to consider:
    – Ability to get Telstra 4G
    – Complete access to the best network
    – You can buy apps from the Google Play store and the Windows 8 store with your real credit
    – Real credit rolls over.
    – Data is charged in kb increments
    – No stupid 400mb a day restrictions
    – You can now conference call with up to 5 recipients
    – You can use your real credit for Telstra music

    Also telstra is thinking about allowing data crossover. For example linking your tablet data only plan with your phone.

    That’s right folks. If you buy your credit at 15% off and are a low mobile data user you get 15% off Google play and your mobile service is practically free.

    • BigEars528

      thats actually one of the worst plans I have ever seen. Couple that with Telstra’s (lack of helpful) service, and their apparent inability to support phones not modified by them (and their bloatware) and you get crap. 30 dollars gets you all that and more on pretty much any Virtual Network Provider. You literally get a Big 3’s Network (Vodafail, Optus or Hellstra) with Bargain Basement prices and real value. I know that’s unheard of in Australia, but it exists

  • Pete

    Great post, wondering if I should get this or the TPG mobile service. Can you do a run down of that one too? Thank you :)

    • OzBoy08

      I would recommend the TPG service. For $18 you get approx. $550 worth of credits and 1.5GB of data. The only downside is Optus network and no 4G LTE from what I can gather.

      • BigEars528

        I’m considering the One too, unfortunately I’m doing my HSC this year so my folks have decreed no new phone until after exams. Is there a non LTE version like the SGS4? I don’t see the point of paying for functionality I can’t use, but I don’t want to give up the TPG plan as my family is all on it, and we want to call each other free

      • OzBoy08

        All the best with your exams.

    • http://espadav8.co.uk Andrew

      I would strongly recommend this instead. TPG are nice and cheap, but the coverage I got was awful. I haven’t had any issues at all since I’ve been using Kogan. And with 6GB of data there is just so much you can do that you wouldn’t normally because of limits. New podcast you want to listen to? Sure, download it over 3G. Funny cat video you remember, show your mates, in high quality, over 3G.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Anderton/504726871 David Anderton

    thanks for the write up can you do one on Aldi aswell?

  • Julian

    About 4 months ago i left optus and went to Vaya. Best thing i have ever done! It runs off optus towers and at the moment you pay $17.60 a month and get $650 worth of calls, unlimited text and social networking and 1.5 GB of data. You can pay $7 to get an extra 1GB. And the best thing is that its 4G!!! Highly recommend it

    • OzBoy08

      What is the performance like ? I am currently with Telstra and don’t like the fact that for the $30 I pay at the moment, I get only 100MB of data with no included credits. How about support from Vaya ? Account issues ? Sorry for all the questions.

      • Julian

        In my opinion, i believe the performance is grwat, but eveyone might think different. The support is OK it could be better. And as of yet no account issues

  • Alexei Watson

    I recently left telstra post-paid for the freedom of pre-paid and did consider Kogan, however I ended up settling on boost, and from reading this, I’ve had no regrets. Boost uses the ‘full’ nextG network, and their call centre (phillipines) has next to no delay in getting through, and the staff have been super friendly and helpful. I’m in my third month now, and my recharges have gone through instantly, no delay whatsoever.

    I know kogan is better value by the numbers, but I’m having trouble faulting this service, I could not afford to be waiting days for a recharge.

  • chris

    Just be careful, support is getting worse, your 3 month recharge if on autorecharge is done back at 1 month not 3.

    They are taking forever now to ship the SIM and sometimes the wrong one. They ignore support messages for this later issue.

    I would suggest the bigest issue is Kogan and their lack of customer service. The service itself is good as it is Telstra. Those being cut off have really been hitting the service hard but Kogan did advertise unlimited…

    Also you forgot to mention that there is no international anything in their plan with no allowance to do so. If you txt someone overseas you are not going to want the Kogan SIM. Also their data is calculted in 1MB chunks, even if you download 1K and then disconnect you are still billed for 1MB.

    From what I have seen for a little more Aldi has the better service, they have an international allowance, better support and well are not as much of a shoddy shop as Kogan.

    Having said all that apart from my data not renewing the first month I have had few issues because I have not had to contact them for help on my SIM my mother well that is a nightmare of its own.

  • bhislop

    Great write-up Lucas. I’ve been with Kogan in Perth for about 3 months now (I also switched from Voda), and agree with everything you’ve written.

    Highly recommend them to anyone who isn’t relying on a contract to get a phone!