Aussies rack up $560 million in mobile phone bill blow-outs

Women make up 55% of people who spend more on their mobile phone bills than expected.
Women make up 55% of people who spend more on their mobile phone bills than expected. Sharyn O'Neill ROK310712sbully4

AUSTRALIANS' addiction to mobile phones is costing them about $560 million a year in bill blow-outs, according to a new study.

Millions of Australians rack up monthly charges that are about 50% higher than expected, with the average "bill shock" $28 a month.

A new study by Macquarie University shows that about 40% of all phone users break their mobile phone caps.

The latest stage of the university's ongoing "state of the mobile nation" project shows women make up 55% of those who spend more than expected.

The study, funded by mobile provider Amaysim and which analysed more than 200 bills, also found people between the age of 25 and 49 were most likely to experience bill shock.

Macquarie University lead researcher Dr David Gray said the results built on an analysis of 1600 mobile phone users, and showed that browsing the web and overusing data was the major contributor to higher-than-expected bills.

"Recent changes adopted by the industry since this bill analysis are a step in the right direction, but the bills we've viewed even in the past few weeks still left us scratching our heads," he said.

"Despite a concerted effort to change the composition of the bill and advertisements, it's the concept of 'included value' in mobile plans that needs to be more clearly communicated to the consumer.

"This very big and real issue has still been left unaddressed by the industry."

The study recommends telecommunications companies better co-ordinate billing formats to help customers, and that itemised call, text and data use be a standard inclusion.

Amaysim founder and CEO Rolf Hansen said the popularity of mid-priced 'included value' plans made consumers think they were the best bet, but the bills told a different story.

"Even though these plans are advertised heavily by telcos and selected by consumers for budget management, they don't reflect the reality of what people are forking out each month," he said.

Key survey findings:

  • The most popular mobile phone plan price points are $59 (33.8%), $49 (20.9%), $79 (9.5%).
  •  The most common bill shock occurred in the $59 category (37.5%).
  •  The average mobile phone bill was $72.99.
  •  Bill shock affected 40% of those on mobile phone contracts. The average bill shock incurred was $28.08.
  •  The highest average bill shock was incurred by those on $129 plans (at $155.58 bill shock), followed by $59 plans ($34.58 bill shock), $60 plans ($24.40 bill shock), then $49 plans ($16.84 bill shock).
  • Females have a higher average incidence of bill shock compared to males (55% female to 45% male).
  • The highest incidence of bill shock by age was the 25-39 age group (36.3%), followed by 40-49 (26.3%), then 60-64 (21.3%).

Do you spend more on your mobile phone than expected each month? By how much?

This poll ended on 31 March 2014.

$5-$10 - 38%

$10-$15 - 7%

$15-$20 - 0%

More than $20 - 53%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Topics:  macquarie university mobiles

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