11-Apr-2011 10:16

Mobile phone users 'overpaying by £200' per year.

Three-quarters of mobile phone subscribers are wasting an average of nearly £200 a year because they are on the wrong contract, research suggests.

People over-estimating how many minutes they would spend on the phone was the main reason, with most using just a quarter of their monthly inclusive allowance.

Researchers concluded that the UK's mobile phone users were wasting nearly £5bn a year on misjudged contracts.

Research by Billmonitor - who studied data from over 28,000 bills from all networks except 3g - suggested that mobile phone users were sending an average of 300 texts a month.

It also found customers had doubled their use of data in a year, as they surfed the web on smartphones.

The average person spent £439 a year on their mobile phone.
Billmonitor said people were going on higher price plans than they needed to avoid being penalised for exceeding their free minutes.

The fear of "bill shock" was so great that customers typically bought four times more talk time than they used.

Three-quarters of customers never exceeded their monthly allowance of free minutes because, in many cases, they were on unnecessarily large contracts.

Analysis found:

• £1,700 - highest monthly bill found during the study
• £1,500 - highest monthly bill for international roaming
• £560 - highest monthly bill for data roaming (approx)
• £100 - highest cost for single phone call when roaming
• £15.50 - 5% of phone users spend less than this per month

As well as those customers opting for excessively large talk plans, the researchers found that many others were signing up to deals that were too small then being hit with punitive charges.

The study found that a third of customers on the wrong tariff fell into this category.

Taken together, Billmonitor calculated that the two groups - those who underestimated their usage and those who overestimated it - were wasting £4.9bn per year.

That works out at £194.71 each for such customers.

The report also identified new trends that could end up costing mobile users more money.

It said the growing popularity of smartphones meant more customers were now adding on data plans.

Smartphone users may struggle to estimate their data requirements. The average usage was 133MB per month, with around 5% of users exceeding 500MB.

However, the report warned that the many different levels of data tariffs on mobile networks could lead to confusion among users.

[ Info from BBC Report: ]

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