/ Technology

Beware spiralling mobile phone internet charges

Woman using smartphone

What would we do without internet on our mobile phones? Well some of us wouldn’t be hit by shocking bills at the end of the month after not being told that they’ve gone over their allowance.

Before this year, many of us holidaying in Europe were hit by huge mobile phone bills when we got home. Some of you have even experienced bills as high as £660!

Thankfully, in July, mobile operators were forced to introduce a cap of $50 Euros (around £42) on roaming charges, with an adjoining text message to warn you when you’ve reached 80% of this limit. And though we’d like to see this extended to roaming outside of Europe, these new rules were certainly a win for consumers.

The mobile internet sting

However, operators are still happy to send bills rolling into the hundreds, if not thousands, to unsuspecting folk who’ve been browsing the internet in the UK.

As thinkbroadband.com explains, we rely on common sense to make sure our mobile calling doesn’t go overboard, but browsing the internet is different. It’s very hard to know how many megabytes (MB) a particular website or application uses. And if you’re not told you’ve gone over your data allowance, the costs can spiral out of control.

Of course, it’s people who haven’t bought an internet ‘data bundle’ with their contract who’re affected. You can get a monthly 1,000MB data bundle for just £5 with some operators, but without this you could be charged as much as £4 for every single MB of data you use, according to the research.

Lots of people are splashing out on smartphones without updating their old contract – with the risk of bills up to 400 times more expensive than with a relevant data bundle.

It would be nice if mobile operators sent their customers a text message when they’ve exceeded their limit, but for now, make sure you’ve either got a data bundle or a package that caps your web usage. Have you been shocked by a nasty mobile phone bill?

Ismail says:
15 September 2010

Its a shame that the mobile operators are in effect fleecing customers out of hundreds of pounds by not warning them of their mobile internet usage limit, surely this must change, and the offcom needs to step up to the plate and show that it is fit for purpose by forcing the mobile operators to send a warning message to their customers when they get over their internet usage limit.

the phone companies have hit on a sure-fire way to ill off mobile internet, customers will not easily forgive their deceit.

I bought a Tesco phone for my 12 yr old with a sim card contract that had a limit of £10 a month just so she could contact me if she missed the bus from school or needed me at all. The phone broke so I changed it in Tesco from a group of phones they told me were compatible with the sim contract. They also told me that there was free internet that would pick up my wifi at home. 1 month later I have a bill of £270 because when my daughter used the internet she was apparently connected to something called 3G at £4 a mb. Surely it can’t be right that I am expected to pay for something that I have not agreed to buy?

It seems that very little has changed in terms of Internet usage costs spiralling, it still goes on and for some of us who are on essential bundles, if you run out of your data allowance, that’s it. You can either buy an add on but that doesn’t always work out either. In the early days I just ended up losing data which I had paid for but never got a chance to use. So now I won’t accept the status quo and negotiate a refund for this or they add data lost back onto my allowance. Most of the time the mobile operators are happy to help out but I have had to monitor my own usage really closely on a daily basis to use as evidence to show where losses have occurred.

I forgot to mention, you still end up paying for lost data allowances. Any data they seem to promise they will add on for “free” is not free. They make it sound like a goodwill gesture but it isn’t so be aware of this trick they use. You can buy add on data yourself so you wouldn’t be ringing them to complain in the first place if there wasn’t a problem. OFCOM does need to step up to the plate because it is otherwise known as fraudulent activity by the operator akin to stealing from their customers, even if it is only data, minutes or texts. Unfortunately, OFCOM is not good at taking up complaints about issues like this or resolving them. It’s the Ombudsman Service for communication as first port of call.

I use talktalk for my phone and broadband. I just looked up my latest bill from tt. The calls were under £10.00, but my bill was £49.79. Minus £10.00 for my bill for calls, that means I’m paying well over the odds just for a service. I’ve tried to call TT, but as soon as I state my problem, THEY cut me off . I need a new provider. I’d be grateful for your help. Thank you.

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