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?