Shock mobile phone bills drive consumers into debt

A large amount of mobile phone users are being driven into debt by unexpectedly-high bills.

Figures released by Citizens Advice revealed last year,…

A large amount of mobile phone users are being driven into debt by unexpectedly-high bills.

Figures released by Citizens Advice revealed last year, the charity dealt with 130,000 consumers who had gotten themselves into difficulty as a result of inflated charges. The vast majority of these customers had done this unwittingly.

Research found shock bills were mostly caused when people took their handsets away with them on holiday and were unaware of the high cost of data roaming. Meanwhile, domestically, the study found mobile phone users were being hit by billing errors and scams, driving up the cost of their contract. In addition, the report found theft was another major problem, with customers in some cases receiving invoices for around £10,000.

When taking handsets abroad, the charity stated, consumers should make sure to turn off their data roaming facility, or risk returning home to an unwelcome surprise from their phone provider. It highlighted the case of a woman who while in the US, made sure to use the Wi-Fi in the hotel reception when communicating with friends and family. However, by forgetting to disable the roaming feature, she still incurred costs of £2,000.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, commented: "Phone providers could help people by sending them text messages with reminders about the costs and any limits they have. There is an opportunity for firms to be innovative by creating tools for people to keep day-to-day track of their charges, calls and data use."

She also advised consumers to take more care when travelling abroad and check possible costs with their network before they travel. Those who often go to a particular destination should look into getting a local Sim card, she stated. 

The study was published as part of World Consumer Rights Day, which was held on March 15th. This year's event was focused on mobile phones, with organisers Consumers International claiming around seven billion people around the world were being poorly-treated by their network provider. It called on telecoms companies to do more to improve customer service and make sure they had an adequate complaints procedure.   

By Joe White

Tell others:

shortlink