Just How Apathetic Are Irish Mobile Users?

Meteor, one of Ireland’s three mobile operators, started a new promotion some months ago: 5c per minute Meteor to Meteor calls – 24 hours a day 7 days a week until 2006. It is available to all existing and new customers on a pre-pay plan.

It piqued my interest. I was paying O2 an average of €110 per month on a post-pay account with the biggest outlay being the evening calls to my significant other. I figured if we both switched to Meteor we could save a fortune. I played around with the idea for a while and I mentioned it in conversation to a few friends and colleagues. They mostly scoffed with such pre-conceptions as “Meteor’s only good for teenage girls”, “their network is crap – you’ll never get coverage at home in Galway”, “they have crap phones” and so forth. And I have to admit – I held most of these opinions myself.

Instead of jumping straight in we decided to try Meteor out. We got Meteor’s free SIM with €100 credit (over ten months) offer. After trying it out for a couple of weeks I found that the network is fine and that the coverage is fine.

One other thing I needed to check before we made the switch – their prices for other calls and services. I didn’t want to find myself in the position of having jumped to Meteor, taking my number with me, only to discover that although the 5c Meteor to Meteor calls sounds great, they make it up by fleecing you on the other charges.

I was surprised. In fact, I was shocked. Not only do Meteor have better rates and promotions than the “big two”, O2 and Vodafone, but in fact they have extraordinarily better rates than O2 and Vodafone. At least in comparison between the three.

I put together just such a comparison below for what seems like a comparable pre-pay package: Night Owl from O2, Social Life from Vodafone and Leisure Time Plus from Meteor. As with all such comparisons in the mobile industry, it is difficult to do it in an exact and fair manner as some operators will charge a “call connection cost”, have minimum call charges, cheaper second and subsequent minutes on directory enquiries, etc. Also errors and omissions are to be expected.

O2 Vodafone Meteor
Night Owl Social Life Leisure Time Plus
  Peak   Off Peak   Peak   Off Peak   Peak   Off Peak
Own network 55c 15c 50c 15c 40c 13c
Other network 63c 19c 65c 30c 40c 13c
Landline 55c 15c 50c 15c 40c 13c
Voicemail 15c 15c Free Free Free Free
SMS to own network 11c 11c 13c 13c 9c 9c
SMS to other network 13c 13c 13c 13c 9c 9c
International SMS 25c 25c 25c 25c 15c 15c
GPRS (per KB) 3c 3c 2c 2c 2c 2c
Customer Care 14c 14c 15c 15c Free Free
1850 30c 30c 31c 31c 30c 30c
1890 30c 23c 50c 15c 15c 15c
1891 23c 23c 50c 15c 12.5c 12.5c
UK 95c 95c €1.02 €1.02 50c 50c
USA €1.90 €1.90 €1.02 €1.02 50c 50c
Australia €1.90 €1.90 €1.92 €1.92 50c 50c

So in trying to ensure that I wouldn’t be fleeced by Meteor, I ended up discovering that O2 was already taking me to the cleaners. These kinds of price differences can be found across all comparable packages – both post-pay and pre-pay.

When it comes to our opinion of Meteor, it’s time we all grew up and wised up. O2 and Vodafone are making more money per customer in Ireland than they are in most other European countries. They are ripping us off. In fact they are ripping about 90% of us off – that’s their market share.

Go and get a free SIM only pack for Meteor and try it out. Their network is fine. Their phone offerings are as good as the others. And, if you’re anything like me, you’ll start saving at least 50% of your current bill per month.