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Operators want to cap charges on stolen mobiles

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Operators' joint initiative will protect consumers against high bills for unauthorised calls

Operators’ joint initiative will protect consumers against high bills for unauthorised calls

The UK government in cooperation with major operators announced their initiative to introduce £100 cap in order to safeguard consumers from horrendous bills.

EE, O2, Three, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone are the first major mobile providers that decided to sign a new Code of Practice prepared by Mobile Broadband Group (MBG) and endorsed by the British government. Among many new protection policies in the Code, the most exciting is the introduction of so-called “liability cap” which protects pay monthly customers from being faced with shock bills. The operators established that the cap will be set at £100 so that their customers will not pay more than that if their phone was lost or stolen. The requirement is that customers have to report the incident to the police and their operator within 24 hours.

If you have a PAYG SIM card, you won’t lose much money due to your phone being misused by criminals. In the worst case scenario, you will lose money equal to the value of your phone plus your credit, which probably is never more than 30 quids. Pay monthly customers have much more to lose. National Mobile Phone Crime Unit reports that there are roughly 300,000 mobile phones reported as stolen each year. Some consumers supposedly received bills as high as £23,000 for unauthorised calls made by criminals. Citizen Advice Bureau estimates that in a period of 11 months (from April 2014 to February 2015) thieves were responsible for £140,000 of loss just for the bills on stolen mobile phones.  The new liability cap will give contract customers some peace of mind as they won’t have to worry about the mobile charges that thieves can run up.

Among the members of MBG, only Three UK has introduced such a cap so far. Other operators promised to do so this year. EE said that their cap will be rolled out in the upcoming weeks, Virgin announced it to happen on July 1, Vodafone will follow others this summer, while O2 gave itself a deadline of September 2015.  However, outside the MBG there is one operator that has already thought about the issue.  It is Tesco Mobile which have even lower cap of just £50.

Nevertheless, the official statistics show how big problem stolen mobile phones is. Remember that normally the operator will probably hold you responsible for any charges incurred before informing them and it’s up to them whether they will reduce the bill as a gesture of good will. Even though being robbed of your phone shouldn’t be a likely situation we can see how PAYG SIM cards are superior to PAYM ones in such a case, but thankfully the “liability cap” will protect customers against receiving a shocking bill.

Written by adm

March 26th, 2015 at 5:08 pm

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Enraged customer to pay £1200 for emojis

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Sad  face emojii best describes Mrs Cochrane's situation

Sad face emojii best describes Mrs Cochrane’s situation

Some phones may cause your emojis to be send as MMSs as one customer found after getting a £1200 bill from EE.  

Paula Cochrane of Airdrie in Scotland was shocked to learn that sending smiley faces may lead to exorbitant mobile phone bill. She signed a two-year deal with EE in September last year and got a new Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone. Her contract was £30.99 a month but her first bill amounted to little over £100.

She was worried but thought it’s due to her using the new smartphone more often. Nevertheless, she tried to sort it out in December and was horrified to learn that her next bill will cost her £449. EE customer service informed her that it was due to a vast amount of picture messages that she was supposedly sending. Paula didn’t feel guilty and felt that she is being scammed. It turned out that her Samsung Galaxy sent all emojis in her texts messages like they were additional MMSs.  Currently, Mrs Cochrane owes EE around £1200 for the period between September and February this year. She sees that the whole situation is “daylight robbery” and doesn’t want to foot the bill.

The lesson learned here is that if you are an owner of some older smartphones like Samsung Galaxy S, S2, S3, S4 as well as Galaxy Note or Ace then watch out as they may treat emojis as picture messages.  Other phone producer didn’t report this kind of issues with their phones. All Samsung users should either refrain from sending icons, emoticons or symbols or change the settings of the messaging app. In order to avoid being in situation like Mrs Cochrane you should go to Input Mode which is a feature of text messages section of phone settings and select “UniCode” instead of “automatic”. Alternatively you may choose to use one of the texting apps available for smartphones like for example, WhatsApp or simple Facebook Chat. As a result you will not be charged for picture messages but instead use your data allowance.

Written by adm

February 10th, 2015 at 3:26 pm

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Stopping bill shock

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Almost everyone has faced paying for bills more than they were expecting. Ofcom, UK regulator, found out that as much as 3 per cent (about 1.4 million) of customers has experienced “bill-shock” in the year to the end of July 2012. There are several activities contributing to this: making calls to numbers not included in inclusive call packages, exceeding voice or data allowances, using data that is not included in a bundle, using a phone while being abroad and lost or stolen phones.  High bills vary from £20 to £50 and 70 per cent have to pay up to £20.

The regulator warns that if the mobile industry won’t sufficiently reduce customers’ damages it will impose obligatory options to solve the problem. For example, Ofcom advises operators and retailers to introduce roaming financial caps and alerts. It also has asked UK mobile providers to do something to develop and promote “opt-in” measures. These are: allowing customers to set their own financial caps and sending them alerts about usage. To enable this they should introduce some new tariffs. Two operators – Three and Tesco – offer  such services but their limited version. However, the operators claim the services are difficult to put in practice because some of them are problematic when customers are abroad. Ofcom will also work with providers to solve the problem of high bills in case when phones are stolen or lost.

Written by adm

March 22nd, 2013 at 12:55 pm

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Billion too much on mobile bills

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New research revealed that Brits spend more than their set mobile bills. While we are a nation of mobile phone lovers we do not know our calling habits. It turns out that 48 percent of pay-monthly customers have to pay more than their monthly tariff.  The main culprit responsible for that is calling premium numbers (26% of overspending customers). People seem not to realize how much calling such numbers from mobiles cost and using them inevitably will reflect on the bill. Next reason behind high bills is roaming charges (21%). Not having bundles and using phone too much while being overseas is not a reasonable thing to do. The third on the list is calling voting lines of different competitions (12%). All of these issues cause an average pay-monthly customer to lose around £100 per year. If we consider that half of contract customers are 10 million people we can see that Brits spend 1 billion pounds too much on mobile bills.

The most surprising fact is that 12% of overspenders have no clue why they spend too much. They have no idea how much out-of-tariff charges are and what will they be charged for. The charges are either not well presented so that people do not know what they pay for or Brits simply do not care if they spend more their plan.

Unfortunately, there is no data about PAYG SIM card owners. It would be interesting to compare their spending habits with pay-monthly customers and check whether they also pay more than they expect to. Obviously having pay-as-you-go SIM card allows for better control over the finances and daily control of money spent on mobile phones.

Written by adm

February 19th, 2013 at 11:58 am

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How to avoid holiday bill shock

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holiday bill shock

holiday bill shock

We are almost in the middle of the summer seasons and many of had already or probably plan to go on holiday somewhere abroad. Thanks to the new EU rules the roaming costs have been cut down. Because of them if you make a mobile call from another EU country you will pay a maximum 24p/minute, a text costs 7p while 1MB of data can’t be more expensive than 58p. Thanks to that most holidaymakers won’t experience so called bill shock. Although you should remember that those limits are applicable only EU member states (so it excludes, for example, Croatia or Turkey). On top of that there is a cap of 50 euros (around £44) on data after which your mobile provider should cut you off, but it’s better to check if you have it on, as some data bundles automatically opt you out of the cap.  Besides, it only works for contract owners and PAYG SIM card users will not enjoy the benefit of having the EU cut-off on. That is why below you will find a couple of tips that will save you money when you go on holidays abroad.

  • Turn off your phone – this is the simplest strategy that makes sure you will not pay extra for that roaming data and calls. But frankly speaking it is just impractical and sometimes impossible to do.
  • Switch off 3G and only use Wi-Fi – It’s a good idea to turn off data through 3G so the only way you can receive data is through Wi-Fi. You might think that if you don’t check e-mails or don’t surf the Internet you won’t use your data. Unfortunately, it is not true as some apps update automatically and most smartphone users have automatic e-mail checking enabled. In case you want to use 3G data just remember no to watch films, TV or download music as this consumes loads of data and my result in bills ranging from £100 to £1000 or more.

Turning of Internet data on:

–          an iPhone: Settings > General > Network, and then move the data roaming slider off.

–          a Blackberry: Options > Mobile Network > Change the data services field to off or off when roaming > Press menu key and     click save

–          a Samsung Galaxy: Menu > Settings > Wireless and network > Mobile networks> Untick data roaming

  • Turn off your voicemail – Not many people know that it may be a hidden cost, as some mobile providers charge you for people leaving some messages on your voicemail.
  • Get a local PAYG SIM card – If you are going to stay longer than one week or you are going on holiday with a group of people, then the most economical way is to buy some local PAYG SIM cards and use them during your holiday.
  • Sign up for a daily roaming bundle – this new service has been introduced by some of the mobile providers and gives you a certain amount of allowance to use every day for a fee of £3+ a day. It’s a way to monitor your spending, but once again it is not available to pay-as-you-go customers.

 

Written by adm

July 12th, 2012 at 7:05 pm

Posted in tariffs&rates

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