The Meeting Place

Should you be challenging your phone bill charges?

While there are seemingly hundreds of competitive mobile phone plans on the market, Australians are ignoring them and blindly paying mobile phone bills without even questioning suspicious charges.

A new survey of 1015 people showed that one in 10 (9 per cent) respondents – equivalent to 1.4 million Australians – have faced an unexpectedly high mobile bill in the last 12 months. 

Generation Z are most prone to getting stung, with 21% stating they’ve faced an unexpectedly high bill in the last 12 months, in comparison to 10% of Generation Y, 6% of Generation X and 4% of Baby Boomers.

The research shows that excess data charges are the main culprit behind mobile phone bill shock, followed by charges for making international calls. 

“Big data plans are becoming the norm. Telcos are offering 40GBs to 50GBs at really affordable prices so if you’re constantly going over your data limit, you’re on the wrong plan and it’s time to switch," said Alex Kidman, tech expert at comparison site Finder.

“If you’re on a plan that includes 6GB of data, but you find yourself forking out for an extra 3GB every month consider upping your data limit. It’s better to overestimate your plan by a few gigabytes than to be slapped with a hefty bill at the end of the month.” 

The majority (65%) of those with an unexpectedly high bill – 907,000 Australians – just paid the fees instead of calling their provider and challenging the charges. 

It’s confronting to see the number of Australians happy to just accept their expensive phone bills, Kidman says.

“Consumers often forget the power of their loyalty. 

“If you feel like these charges aren’t fair, you should call and ask your provider to waive your bill, or at least give you a discount. Most providers will help you out with the hope of keeping you as a customer.

“Make sure to keep a record of any conversations you have with your provider. Take notes, not just of the time and date, but also who you talked with.” 

Kidman reminds Aussies there are independent parties that can help consumers challenge their expensive bill.

“You should find instructions to dispute a bill on your provider's website. If you’re still not having luck and you legitimately believe you’ve been unfairly charged you can take it to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO).” 

The onus is also on the consumer to make sure they’re using their plan within its parameters Kidman said.

“Providers are now required to send you a message once you’re about to reach your data limit. Instead of turning a blind eye to these messages and accepting the excess charges, change your usage habits."

Do you check and challenge the charges on your phone bill?

14 comments

I am on a mobile plan with a fixed cost, very modest it is too, that provides unlimited calls throughout Australia to any phone number and also includes international calls to about 20 countries. I also have more than enough data for my use but as an oldie I don't use much data on my mobile.

Shop around and look for the best deal. Unless you do a lot of travel into country areas then Telstra is really expensive and frankly does not provide good customer service. 

Agree with you about Telstra TT, I have found everyhting about them to be second rate and nothing works as it should. And i was conned into changing from optus to them! They told me we were being joined up to the NBN, and had to go with them. But that was not true and we are still not joined to the NBN. Sure they gave me $500 credit but it wasn't worth all the hassle. I will change back to Optus when I am out of contact.

I am on a mobile plan with a fixed cost, very modest it is too, that provides unlimited calls throughout Australia to any phone number and also includes international calls to about 20 countries. I also have more than enough data for my use but as an oldie I don't use much data on my mobile.

Shop around and look for the best deal. Unless you do a lot of travel into country areas then Telstra is really expensive and frankly does not provide good customer service. 

There are some very good plans out there and they are getting cheaper so I agree that people should just ask for a better deal. A friend put me on to a company called Boost which uses the Telstra network and I now have a prepaid scheme which gives me 3Gb of data each month (of which I use less than 1Gb), unlimited local, national, mobile calls and texts to all providers at a cost of $20 each 28 days. They recently advised me that I can now ring up to 20 countries free of charge. This is my experience which I can recommend but I'm sure there are similar, or better, plans out there if one looks.

Old Man, Amaysim had something similiar, it used to be 2.5Gb of data per 28 days, with unlimited calls within Australia for $10. This is no longer available for new users :( - It is now 5Gb per 28 days at $20.

I have had so many problems with my telco over the years, I have now opted for an all inclusive deal with unlimited broadband.  But I can't use that on my mobile phone so have to pay for extra!  So I simply don't do internet on my phone.  I do it on my laptop.  Telcos in this country and crooks.  We are being badly ripped off.  I've also lost my pensioner discount as a result of connecting to NBN.  Not happy (can you tell?)

Like you, I never use my phone for data consumption, which is all done on my computer.

"We are being badly ripped off."

Indeed. A Royal Commission is needed into this industry sector.

It is not just the mobile  it  is also   the landline which I need to kepp the internet on. Charges kepp going up all the  time  with Tesltra.

Have you spoken to Telstra KB? We negotiated a plan to give 100Gb of internet, unlimited mobile, text, local and national calls for $69pm. We did look around but couldn't find a better deal at the time. Good luck.

It is not just the mobile  it  is also   the landline which I need to kepp the internet on. Charges kepp going up all the  time  with Tesltra.

There is nothing to challenge when you are on a fixed unlimited call plan. A different number of calls each month but always the same bill.

That's not the same thing as consuming data (internet) on your mobile phone.

Like most other services, do the homework or pay the lazy tax. Your choice.

The telcos taking up to 48 hours to update information regarding your data usage isa neither laziness or our choice. The TCP code allows them to get away with this.

48 hours makes little if any difference to a huge 'unexpected' bill. And seriously; blaming the Telco for a 48 hour delay is ridiculous. If it bothers you that much, change Telco. Mine is almost instant!

 

Same for me - with Telstra - just get the set amount I agreed too. $99 a month for phone and internet with unmlimited data which I dont use that much anyway and free local calls as well as some STD calls free and free calls to their mobiles.Plus iget Play TV free with Big Pond Movies cheaper.

@KB when did they charge more - I get no extra charges and these days we have to go with a contract so fixed. 

They are best as still have the only techs doing the same job as did locally when they owned the copper etc with the NBN. So a mobile call away and in they come in and fix anything I need. FREE!

Also with Telstra - a battery and still to the phone when a power outage for those without a mobile. 

I do have one but hardly need it as use it only for taxi mainly when had to go all too often to hospital and medical centrer all together with limited very expensive parking - worst ever seen - and of course no phone boxes even on freeways so need to have one in case of trouble with car or ring home if late. We both share the mobile and with Telstra roll over the amount not spent. Need it also on the internet paying Paypal or others at times for texts etc. As well as sending them. Its only a old flip phone not a smartphone but could get the internet if needed.

Until we go cashless I have no intention of paying out for a smartphone. Mind I may be able to use the old one !

I gave away my landline when Telstra and TPG couldn't  fix a faulty connection (or accept blame) which left me without a reliable internet for 3 months. I switched to Optus mobile 4 years ago and havent had a problem since. I still use a desktop computer which shares my mobile data allowance for a one of cost of $5 for a dongle. I pay $50 per month for all calls and texts, 300 minutes of international calls a month and 35 gig of data which I've not come close to using.

I was paying almost that for my land line service fee without calls. 

The plans keep improving so I keep tabs on them and change whenever a better plan comes out.

 

My NBN is dodgy, so got a new mobile with a generous data allowance from Telstra. Now, when the NBN is down, I just use my mobile as an iPhone 'personal hotspot' for internet access on my laptop. Works fine for me, fixed cost, no 'surpirises'.

The telcos have been gouging customers for ages in this regard. Their webpages showing data usage by law are allowed to be up to 48 hours behind, which is outrageous: one can easily rack up a data overrun and be none the wiser until the bill arrives. This is another industry sector sorely in need of a Royal Commission.

Sure, question your bill, but 6GB of data on a mobile is a lot for most people and most telcos, warn you when you're coming up to your limit, so I don't see a problem.

I agree ABE, I have only 2GB which I use only for getting directions if needed. I use the internet for everything else.

Just received my optus phone bill (landline) and optus charges me $15.00 for late paying fee.

Optus has the right to charge my credit card direct debit on a particular day.and all those automatically.

So optus is at fault as the limit is at $25,000.00 and my visa is never higher than 5K.

Tried to contact Optus (after pushing very many buttons and finally put on hold with loud raucus music.

Optus obviously does not want to talk to people as I waited at least 15 minutes and I hung up.

Shame on you Optus.

14 comments