Why are tariffs bad 1

Smartphone tariffs: You will not be happy with these offers

A smartphone tariff doesn't have to be expensive. With a prepaid card or a contract with a mobile phone discounter, customers can surf, make calls and text messages for just a handful of euros. There are many cheap offers. But not all are recommendable.

Once upon a time there was a big change: since 2004, mobile phone discounters such as Aldi Talk, Congstar, Simyo or Tchibo mobil have been flooding the market and questioning the omnipotence of the established network operators Telekom, Vodafone and Telefónica with low per-minute prices. A lot has changed in these 15 years: various discounters have been merged or renamed, others have disappeared. Others are still on the market but have been neglected.

Alexander Kuch from the specialist magazine teltarif.de has dealt with the causes: "Many mobile phone discounters have concentrated on offering low prices and, ideally, always being 'the cheapest'," he says. "In doing so, they may have neglected to negotiate regularly with the network operator about technical updates, which, however, also require a new calculation of the tariffs."

This has different consequences for customers. We explain the typical problems that can occur with cell phone discounters and which offers you should therefore avoid.

1. Bad customer service

Some providers save on customer service. This is especially noticeable when problems arise. In such cases, it is only with a lot of luck that the customer can reach an employee who can help. There are hardly any telephone hotlines today anyway. Instead, customers should contact them via email or chat. An answer is often a long time coming.

The portal teltarif.de names the discount provider Blau as a negative example. The tariffs have been modified several times since 2014. This led to a noticeable decrease in service quality. "Like O2, Blau can no longer be reached by e-mail and other contact channels such as chat were only accepted hesitantly or were temporarily overloaded," criticized Kuch.

2. Bad value for money

Most mobile phone tariffs nowadays include a telephone and SMS flat rate in all networks. But there are also packages in which every minute and SMS are billed individually. This does not necessarily mean that savings can be made, says mobile communications expert Kuch.

For example, with the mobile phone brand Fyve, it is worth doing the math. "To this day, Fyve does not offer an all-network flat rate, but only minute packages - which, however, cost as much as many other providers offer an all-network flat rate," says Kuch.

Not all flat rates are the same

Even when cheap "flat rates" are advertised, customers should be careful. A flat rate at a monthly price of 20 euros - that doesn't sound bad at first glance. But the providers interpret the term "flat rate" very differently. The devil is often in the details.

For seven years now, the provider Debitel has been marketing a "Light Allnet Flat" for 19.95 euros per month, which no longer lives up to its name. Because instead of a "real" flat rate, the customer only receives 100 inclusive minutes in all networks, an SMS flat rate and a ridiculous 200 megabytes (MB) data volume in the UMTS network (3G), the end of which is already sealed today.

Seven years ago, Debitel's "Light Allnet Flat" may have been a good deal. Nowadays, the pure UMTS tariff with a surfing speed of 7.2 megabits per second (Mbit / s) seems out of date. "There's no more speed or LTE, not even for a surcharge," warns Kuch.

A "real" mobile phone flat rate, with which you can make calls to all networks without hesitation, send unlimited SMS and surf, is still quite rare in Germany and usually costs a lot. Telekom and Vodafone charge 80 euros per month for their premium tariffs. It is cheaper, for example, with O2. Customers there pay between 30 and 50 euros for mobile surfing without a monthly limit, but the data rate is limited in the cheaper tariffs. Find out here whether it's worth it. Real data flat rates at the discount rate are also available from Freenet for around 30 euros and Mobilcom Debitel from 40 euros.

3. Slow internet and no LTE access

In times of 5G, UMTS tariffs with lame internet connections are no longer up-to-date for various reasons. First, a surfing speed of 7.2 Mbit / s is just enough to load a website. Second, the 3G network is gradually being switched off. LTE options can be booked with some providers. Where this is not possible, customers will soon have to change tariffs.

This affects users of a prepaid card from Congstar, among others. Alexander Kuch calls it "incomprehensible why Telekom still does not allow its own discount subsidiary Congstar access to the LTE network with prepaid tariffs". If, on the other hand, you have a contract with Congstar, you can use LTE for a surcharge.

UPDATE: Congstar now also offers the LTE option for prepaid cards. In addition, existing customers with postpaid tariffs will be gradually switched to LTE with 25 Mbit / s speed with immediate effect.

However, the LTE network is not equally good or equally fast with every provider. The surfing speed offered varies between 21.5 Mbit / s and 500 Mbit / s depending on the provider. Turbo Internet is usually only available with a high-priced contract. For a little less money, users can count on 50 Mbit / s at the discounter.

4. No roaming

Since 2017, consumers in other EU countries have been able to make calls, send SMS and use mobile internet at the same tariff as at home. The calculation of so-called roaming surcharges in the EU zone has been banned by the EU. The requirement posed major challenges for many low-cost providers; after all, the income from roaming charges was part of the business model.

The discount provider DeutschlandSIM saved itself with a radical measure: the Drillisch mobile communications brand not only abolished the fees but also the roaming. The result: Purely national tariffs that only work in Germany. With such a SIM card, mobile phone users abroad are practically on dry land. "No other provider does that anymore," says Kuch.

How much does a good discount tariff cost?

If you don't want to do without a modern tariff with LTE, all-network flat rate, roaming and good service, you still have a large number of providers to choose from. Kuch: "First and foremost, the network operators themselves should be mentioned here, who meanwhile offer maximum LTE speed, a minute package and 1.5 to 2 GB of data volume with their own prepaid tariffs for around ten euros per month, which is sufficient for many users. " Kuch also praises the price-performance ratio of the Drillisch mobile phone brands (e.g. Smartmobil, Yourfone) and the additional booking options of some prepaid discounters.

Those who need more can get tariffs with fast network, 3 GB flat rate, telephone flat rate and SMS flat rate for a low basic fee. In the mobile phone tariff comparison from teltarif.de, a promotional tariff from Mega Sim (mobilcom debitel) for 6.99 euros per month is currently in front. This is followed by 22 tariffs for a basic fee of less than 10 euros with at least 3 GB of inclusive volume. These are almost exclusively tariffs in the Telefónica network, which is considered to be the worst in Germany. Only in 12th place is a tariff from Lidl Connect that uses the Vodafone network.

"The price is still dependent on the network," says Kuch. "Anyone who has a good coverage of the Telefónica network at their location gets a modern tariff for 8 to 9 euros. Those who choose the networks from Vodafone and Telekom for better network coverage have to pay around 5 euros more per month."

Note: The t-online.de portal is an independent news portal and is operated by Ströer Digital Publishing GmbH.

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  • Subjects:
  • Digital,
  • Discount stores,
  • LTE,
  • Cellular,
  • Deutsche Telekom AG,
  • o2,
  • Consumer,
  • 5G,
  • Vodafone,
  • Telefónica,
  • Cell phone tariffs,
  • Digital tips,
  • SIM card,
  • Roaming,
  • Aldi,
  • Lidl