Author Topic: Want to manage your AU bill better?  (Read 5142 times)

Offline fred

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Want to manage your AU bill better?
« on: September 24, 2012, 03:19:38 PM »
I thought I would write this up as it would be helpful to a lot of people. Unfortunately, I am not well versed with other phone companies. However, I hope that it helps some of you to reduce your bills on those carriers and can share the advice here.

I often hear of a people shocked at their phone bill or running out of minutes and having to restrict phone usage for the last two weeks of the month. This does not need to be the case.
I think that most people chose the plan that they thought was best when they got their phone and have stuck with it. However, they couldn't predict the future and are now stuck with it even though it may not be working for them.
However, with a little bit of work, you can manage your bills better and save money every month. The basic principles are the same for both the clamshell style phone and smartphones. I will try to cover both when neccesary.



The key to managing your bill is by monitoring your month by month phone usage and choosing the right plans that fit your needs and the needs of your wallet.
The vast part of your bill would be the phone plan and the data plan. I'll cover both.

It is important to note that changing either your data or your phone plan is free of charge and you can do it as many times as you want. However, the change will only come into effect on the 1st of the next month and will be valid for the whole month.

In this guide I will reference a number of charges and plans and they can be found here
http://www.au.kddi.com/english/ryokin_waribiki/list/index.html


Checking your usage

This is the inital step.

Clamshell phones - There is an easy way to do this, which I used to do all the time when I had a clamshell phone. If I have a clamshell infront of me, I can find it quite easily. However, I don't and so Sheena has come to the rescue..



1. EZ ボタン
   (EZ key)
   
2.トップメニュー
  (Top Menu)
 
3. auお客さまサポート
   (au Customer Support)

4. 確認する
   (Check)

5. 通話料・通信料照会
   (View calling charges and data transfer charges)

通話料 will be the current charges for voice
通信料 is data, and it should also list where you're currently at in packet usage (パッケト数)

You can also do this from the au website on your computer, but it will require creating a user account, which requires some Japanese knowledge.


Smartphones are a bit trickier. You need to install the AU お客さま サポート (AU okyakusama supo-to) app on your phone. Then you need to register your phone with a user id and password (for security). You may be able to do this yourself if you understand the Japanese, however I did it at the AU shop.

Sheena to the rescue again

My bad.... smart phone people will have to create an account with AU customer service and log in....  https://cs.kddi.com/
or click the お客様サポートlink on the au one page from your phone then log in.  Once you're set up, on the main menu there's a button that says    今​月​の​通​話​料​・​通​信​料​  which will display that info for you.   You'll need your phone number, pin code (the 4 digit one you chose when you set up your contract), and your customer code to set up your ID.


(Smartphone)  Once this is done, you just open the app, hit the icon with the yen inside the phone. The next page will show your number, plan and below it, your current month's phone bill broken down into phone plan cost and data plan cost up to and including the day before (You may need to hit the æ›´æ–° button).
Below that is the previous month's data.

This first table will have 3 yen amounts.
1. This is the cost of your calls. If there is a yen figure here, you have exceeded your minutes for the month and these are the extra charges above your plan cost.
If it is zero, then you are within your minutes. In red, below the figure, you can see how many rollover yen you have left.
2. This is your data cost. If there is a figure here, you have invoked the max rate clause of your data plan. Otherwise...
3. This is variable cost of your data.

Clamshell will be similar, but I need one infront of me to see how it is setup.

Which is the best data plan for me?

You must get a data plan. Without it, you will rack up big bills if you ever use the internet on your phone.
For clamshell ones, you should get one of the double teigaku packages. Which is best, depends on your usage.
All of them are variable with a capped max cost. It is possible to hit the max cost of the plan but I only used to do so when I was without internet and constantly using my phone internet. Otherwise, I used to be somewhere on the variable scale. Remember that E-mails come under package usage, so if you are at the max cost, every e-mail costs you nothing.

For smart phones, just get the IS flat package. It is nigh on impossible to stay under the 42,000 - 114,000 packets threshold that you need to make a variable data plan work. Bearing in mind that I tether from my phone, I have used 10.9 million packets in 23 days. In other words, it took me a quarter of a day to reach the higher 114,000  packet limit. Even without tethering, it would still take me less than 4 days to hit the ceiling. Hence IS flat is a no brainer.

Phone plans.

The trick to keeping your bill under control is to use three things. The indefinite period carry over plan, call designation flat rate and the ability to change your plans.

Almost all the AU plans come with free minutes and if you exceed those minutes, you end up being charged which is how bills mushroom. As AU allows you to rollover unused minutes indefinitely, it is in your best interests to always have enough minutes in the bank as a safety buffer. If your plan is too small, you will be running out of minutes.
On the other hand, if your plan is too big, you will be spending money on minutes that you never use.

The confusing part is that the minutes are measured in yen.
As each plan gets bigger, you get more yen to spend, but the cost per minute drops.
To give you an example, the LL plan is 7.2 times more expensive than the SS plan. However, you get 12 times the yen to spend which is 32 times the number of minutes. Confusing right?

Plan SS -  Costs 980 yen. Cost/min = 42yen. Free mins = 1050yen or 25 mins
Plan LL -  Costs 7035 yen. Cost/min = 15.75yen. Free mins = 12600 yen or 800 mins

To find the best plan for you, you need to use the phone cost breakdown detailed above.

Now comes the tricky part. You need to decide whether your plan is the right one for you or not. It also depends on how much time you are willing to put into managing your phone plan.
Your aim is to never exceed the minutes that you have accrued. By changing your plan according to your usage, you want to have enough minutes to cover the whole month and yet not waste money by being on too big a plan and wasting minutes. According to the plan you have, you can only roll over a certain amount. See http://www.au.kddi.com/english/ryokin_waribiki/waribiki/kurikoshi/index.html which details the limits for each plan.
If you are doing it for the first time and have not got a bunch of minutes to use up, I would always change to a larger plan than you think. Having minutes in the bank is crucial to managing your bill. If you got something too big, you can always drop down below the optimum plan and eat into those rollovered minutes.

Finally, call designation flat rate gives you the ability to call any 3 AU phones for free 24/7 for 390/month. For someone like me, this is worth getting and is worth it even if you use it for only one number. If you spend more than 25mins/month to an AU phone, then this pays for itself. Less if you are not on the LL plan
There is also a 315yen/month call designation discount option which gives you 50% off but it is not as good value as the flat rate. At LL rates (15.75yen/min), you need to spend 40mins a month to make it pay for itself. If you use the phone a lot, I don't know if you can use both together if there are six AU numbers that you call a lot.


Does it work?

I used to be a heavy user of my phone and before I found out how to do this, my bills were 12,000-20,000 a month.
Since then, I use the phone even more and now my bill is less than 14,000 a month. It takes me about 5 minutes a month to decide whether to change my plan or not. If I do want to change it, I go to my AU shop and it takes the assistants about 5 mins to change my plan. I think you can actually do it from your phone but I have yet to learn that.
Now, my bill has been 9,078 yen to 9080 for five of the last six months. There was one of 10,938 when I did go over my minutes and I paid for it. When it comes to ski trip time, I up the plan a bit beforehand to build minutes. A peak month will see me easily use the 800minutes that the LL plan gives me but I rollover from the previous month to have more than the 800mins. In theory, with the LL plan, you can have as much as 2600mins at the start of the month   

Once ski trip season is over, I drop the plan down to use up any excess minutes. If I am going away on holiday, I may drop to a low plan too.

Obviously, as a self confessed heavy user, I stood to gain a lot from this. Your situation will dictate what you can achieve.



« Last Edit: September 26, 2012, 01:56:03 PM by fred »

Offline fred

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Re: Want to manage your AU bill better?
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2012, 03:21:10 PM »
Sorry if this is a bit long and disjointed. I wrote it up between classes and so my train of thought got broken several times.

If there are ways that you see to improve the article/make it more succinct, let me know.

Offline Terranasaurus Rex

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Re: Want to manage your AU bill better?
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2012, 10:03:39 AM »
Holy crap...thank you for this! I'd been thinking about trying to save money via my phone bill recently and now I can.
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Offline fred

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Re: Want to manage your AU bill better?
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2012, 12:15:16 PM »
No worries at all. I hope it helps you out.
I just rewrote it and I think it flows better now.

Offline andypj1

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Re: Want to manage your AU bill better?
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2012, 10:38:43 PM »
What if you have a clamshell type phone and you don't ever need or even know how to use the internet?  Emily has one and will never willingly use the internet features on the phone.  Do you know if they can disable the internet altogether or you simply drop the feature and they charge you anyway because the phone is designed to access the internet even without your consent?

Hopefully that made sense.

Offline fred

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Re: Want to manage your AU bill better?
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2012, 11:48:15 PM »
Made perfect sense. You are using the phone for calls only. Possibly sending e-mails?

There is a 315 yen/month internet connection fee (EZ win course) which you should cancel.
Now I don't know if you are able to access the usage data without it, but you cannot send e-mails though.

Then comes the data plan. I would go down to Double-Teigaku-Super Light or Double-Teigaku-Light and take it from there. Again, you can tweak the data plan as you see fit.

Offline andypj1

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Re: Want to manage your AU bill better?
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2012, 02:29:25 AM »
It would primarily for call but could also receive the occasional SMS text from husband to wife.  That is the only function of her phone.  She will never use it for writing or receiving normal emails. 

Offline fred

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Re: Want to manage your AU bill better?
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2012, 10:03:54 AM »
In that case, I would cancel the EZ Win option and not have e-mail.
I cannot think of any need for a data plan to be honest. I think accessing your usage stats may be disabled too, but apparently you can access this from a PC based user account.

That would leave you with just the phone plan.
SMS or c-mail (as it is called here) costs 3.15yen per message and this is taken from your "minutes".
However, call designation flat rate also applies to c-mail and so they are free to the three designated numbers.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2012, 02:00:14 PM by fred »

Offline OxO

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Re: Want to manage your AU bill better?
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2012, 11:08:42 AM »
Bare in mind that Japan does phones differently. Here sms is a pretty rare thing to do and people use email on their phone as standard for much the same purpose that folk back in the west use text messages. I wouldn't be so quick to cancel the ability to use email, she might not have need of it now but once she starts making friends with people its the usual way to do things.
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Offline buriko

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Re: Want to manage your AU bill better?
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2012, 11:44:10 AM »
This would be great in the guides section of the website!!  ^-^

Offline fred

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Re: Want to manage your AU bill better?
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2013, 12:11:17 PM »
Bumped for Andy...

Bear in mind this is for AU. Also, since I wrote this, AU has rolled out 4G and the plans have changed again. The info about plans is valid for 3G and clamshell phones. When I get a chance I will have a look at the 4G options....unless someone wants to fill us in about that.

Offline shneen

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Re: Want to manage your AU bill better?
« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2013, 09:54:25 PM »
I'm still on the 3G plan myself, but have translated for a couple of people when they were moving to 4G phones.  AU's 4G plans have all gone to be similar to what the Softbank White plan is.... so you pay a basic monthly fee (roughly 1000 yen), then your internet/data package, plus whatever payment plan you choose for your phone.  Calls between AU phones are free during certain hours.  Any calls to au numbers outside of those hours and all calls to non-au numbers is a separate charge.   They do have some options to add so that you can have 24 hour free calling to au phones (i believe this was around 500 yen/mo) and another one that will let you have half price calling to any domestic number (~1000 yen/mo).   Prices for everything depends on if you're going iphone or android and whatever discounts you're eligible for.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2013, 09:56:03 PM by shneen »