Use pre-paid plans to avoid iPad bill shock: ACCAN

Consumer support organisation warns those looking to get an iPad to avoid ‘iShock’

Australians looking to pick up an iPad have been advised to opt for a pre-paid plan to avoid excess data usage charges.

The Australian Communication Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) said the iPad 3G – it also comes in just a WiFi version – could lead to cases of bill shock that have been experienced by smartphone owners.

As a result, ACCAN advised iPad owners to avoid post-paid plans until they were “used to the new devices”.

“The iPad and similar new-generation devices offer exciting new possibilities for consumers,” ACCAN director policy and campaigns, Elissa Freeman, said in a statement. “But to avoid getting an ‘iShock’, we’re strongly advising consumers opt for a pre-paid plan for at least the first three months until they get a feel for how much data they’re using.

“Anyone using a 3G iPad on a post-paid plan essentially has access to a loaded gun of credit. While you’re absorbed in checking out what your iPad can do, you’re in danger of going over your data usage limit and facing a huge bill.”

Telstra and Optus have announced plans for the iPad and Vodafone and 3 Mobile are expected to follow soon.

Telstra’s pre-paid iPad plans are: 1GB for $20, 3GB for $30, and 6GB for $60.

Optus iPad plans start at $15 for 500MB (+ 1GB Bonus if you activate by 30 September) but with unused credit expiring after 15 days. The top plan is $80 for 8GB with unused credit expiring after six months.

Apple recently announced that both the Wi-Fi only and 3G versions of its iPad will reach Australian shores on 28 May.

Local pricing for the tablet is set to begin at $629 for the 16GB, Wi-Fi only version, with the 64GB Wi-Fi and 3G version selling for the highest price point of $1049. Australians will pay as much as $113 more than US consumers for the device after a direct currency conversion.

Apple started taking pre-orders for the iPad on 10 May.

A similar measure was used by the company to gauge anticipation for the iPad prior to the US launch, but "overwhelming demand" at its initial launch prompted shipping delays to other countries, including Australia. Apple has reportedly sold one million iPads in just under a month in the US alone.

The launch of the iPad in Australia will also bring with it the iBookstore app, a feature previously thought to be missing on local flavours of the tablet. However, a job posting from Apple for an Australia/Canada iBooks manager hinted to an escalated effort from the gadget company to sign the necessary contracts with local publishers in order to make the e-book platform available at launch.

Australian consumers and software developers alike have already jumped on board the iPad wagon, with several keen Apple fans importing the tablet from the US. Several high-selling iPad apps are also homegrown.

Local iPad Pricing

  • 16GB Wi-Fi: $629 ($US499)
  • 32GB Wi-Fi: $759 ($US599)
  • 64GB Wi-Fi: $879 ($US699)
  • 16GB Wi-Fi and 3G: $799 ($US629)
  • 32GB Wi-Fi and 3G: $928 ($US729)
  • 64GB Wi-Fi and 3G: $1049 ($US829)

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