01 May Managing Bill Shock
Going over your allowance of calls, phoning numbers that your tariff doesn’t cover, sending texts with emojis or using too much data can all lead to a bigger bill than you were expecting.
There are many reasons why your bill can be extremely high, these include the following:
Excess data usage:
This most commonly occurs on mobile broadband lines, as there is no way for you to monitor the data usage directly. Mobile Broadband will not receive data usage texts, since they are usually plugged into a Dongle or an iPad.
There are a lot of countries that are not included in the travel plans for each network. You will need to contact us to find out before you go abroad. Most often, it is data usage in these countries that can cause such a high bill.
Calling international Numbers:
It is important to note that each international number has a different call rate, as such the cost of each call can vary significantly.
Multimedia Messaging Services:
The use of picture messaging or video messaging is chargeable on every network. The charges on the networks we manage are as follows:
- Vodafone – 45p
- O2 – 40p
- EE – 40p
This is not to be confused with services such as WhatsApp, as they use your data allowance for multimedia messaging. There are no additional charges for this, unless you have exceeded your data allowance.
Calling 084 or 087 numbers can also add additional charges to your bill. These are not covered as standard calls across any network, and are chargeable based on the company you are calling. Some networks do provide a bolt on that would give you a set amount of minutes to call these numbers.
Premium texts/Premium Subscriptions:
This usually occurs because a user has signed up to a service knowingly or has entered their number into an online survey unknowingly. These charges can vary, however they do occur weekly through texts received by the premium companies. You can apply for a refund in most cases, however this must be done directly via the premium company, as the networks do not provide refunds for premium charges.
Lost or Stolen Sim Card:
It is important to report a lost or stolen sim to us so that we can immediately apply the necessary bars on the line. These bars take effect immediately, and prohibit your sim from being used by anyone else. As with all bars, you would also need to contact us to remove them, bars can take up to 24 hours to be removed on the network side.
Networks generally do not provide a plan or a bolt on for Maritime Journeys. As such these can be a definitive cause for bill shock should you be using your phone on a flight or on a cruise.
You can of course take steps to avoid this. We have outlined some useful tips:
Make sure you have the right deal that suits your usage
Knowing how you use your phone and choosing the right contract is key to avoiding extra charges.
The first step in getting the right deal is to work out your normal usage – don’t guess how much call, text or data allowance you need – underestimating your needs can end up costing you much more.
Look at your most recent bills and establish how much you normally use.
Check if the tariff covers the type of calls you make – if you make a lot of calls to certain numbers not covered (like calls to international numbers), consider an alternative tariff with inclusive minutes or add-on a bundle that avoids lots of additional charges.
Make sure you know how much it will cost if you do end up using more than your allowance of calls, texts and data. Some providers charge a lot if you go over your monthly usage limit.
If you decide to choose a mobile contract rather than a pay as you go (PAYG) product, remember this means you will be billed for charges incurred above your monthly allowance. With PAYG, you can only spend the credit you have purchased giving you greater control over the amount you pay.
If you find yourself regularly making more calls or using more data than your tariff allows, speak to your provider about a more suitable one - don’t assume they will contact you to discuss a better deal.
If you’re nearing or have passed your minimum contract term, consider changing your tariff and/or switching provider so that you get an allowance that covers as much of your usage as possible.
If you’re regularly going over your monthly allowance and are still in your minimum contract term, check to see if you can change your allowance.
If you’re worried about going over your allowance, speak to your provider to ask if you can set a ‘cap’ or ‘limit’ on your account, which will stop you spending over a certain level.
If you go for a deal that offers ‘unlimited’ allowances, make sure you check if it comes with a fair-usage policy. If it does, check what the maximum usage is and what happens if you go beyond this – you may be charged or have your usage restricted.
Consider increasing your usage allowance
If you can’t switch, check if your provider offers the chance to buy extra allowance – such as extra data or calls or a bundle of minutes to numbers not included in allowances like international numbers.
If you do opt for extra allowance, check when you can start using it and whether it’s provided on a one-off or rolling basis (in which case you may need to let your provider know when you no longer want it).
Keep regular tabs on your usage
You can monitor your usage from your phone if you have a smartphone by using a free-to-download ‘app’ from your provider. These can be very useful for checking how much data you’re using.
Most phone companies also offer an online account where you can check what you have used, which can be accessed from your phone or computer.
You should also be able to check your bill for any items you don’t recognise and discuss any unexpected charges with your provider.
Even if some or all parts of your allowance are ‘unlimited’, it’s still worth keeping tabs on your usage, especially if there’s a ‘fair usage’ policy with a maximum limit on how much you can use.
Your usage can change over time. For example, you may find that after signing up for a new smartphone your use of data increases over time. Check out what rights you have to increase your allowance, ideally before you get the phone.
If you let others use your phone, keep tabs on what they do. Avoid your child inadvertently racking up large bills from ‘in-app’ purchases by keeping your handset password private, or setting up a password which must be keyed before it allows the user to make an in-app purchase.
Some devices allow you to turn in-app purchases off altogether.
Don’t exceed your data limit
Check you have enough data to cover your usage. Speak to your provider for more advice on the package which best suits your current and future needs.
If you are new to smartphones, remember that they are built to seek out internet connections automatically and can use data even if data is not included within your allowance.
If you want to regularly use data, using Wi-Fi instead of your phone’s mobile internet connection can save you using data from your allowance. Some smartphone settings and apps can seek out Wi-Fi networks and prompt you to connect to them so that you don’t have to do this manually.
If you’re going to use your phone’s internet connection rather than Wi-Fi, remember that activities such as watching videos, downloading music or opening large attachments from email, use lots of data. Most providers give some examples of how much data different activities eat up.
Worth knowing: a 60 minute video can consume between 50 MB and 350 MB of data depending on your available connection speed.
Networks send text alerts telling you when you have reached your allowance for data usage – these can help you to avoid out-of-allowance charges. It’s worth checking if your provider offers these alerts
Making calls to numbers beginning with 084, 087, 09 or 118
Charges apply to these calls will be made up of two parts:
An access charge: This part of the call charge goes to your mobile phone company, charged as pence per minute. Your provider will tell you how much this is and it will be made clear on bills and when you take out a contract.
A service charge: This is the rest of the call charge. The organisation you are calling decides this, and will tell you how much it is.
In addition, from 1 July 2015, all numbers starting 0800 or 0808 are free for consumers to call from mobile phones, as they are from landlines.
Protect your phone
Always treat your phone as carefully as you would your bank or credit cards.
Take care when using your phone in public, don’t let it out of your possession.
Not only are many smartphones worth hundreds of pounds, but thieves can quickly rack up huge bills on stolen phones.
You may be liable for all charges run up on your phone when it goes missing up until you report it as lost or stolen to your provider. Therefore, it’s important you contact your provider as soon as possible to avoid facing high charges as a result of unauthorised use.
If your phone goes missing and you are with Three, Virgin Mobile, Vodafone, EE or O2 for mobile services, you should only be responsible for paying up to a maximum of £100 for any unauthorised usage outside of your allowance- if you report your phone as missing within 24 hours.
You can also download an app which can trace your phone if it is lost or stolen and can enable you to wipe details remotely – such as findmyiphone and Android device manager.
Some mobile insurance policies may provide some cover for unauthorised use so it is worth checking the terms and conditions of your existing policy, or when considering a new policy.
Make sure you put a passcode on both your handset and SIM to make it more difficult for thieves to
To report your phone lost/stolen
|Provider||Dialling from the UK||Dialling from Abroad|
|3||333 (Three phone)
0333 338 1001 (any other phone)
|+44 7782 333 333|
|EE||07953 966 250||+44 7953 966 250|
|O2||0344 809 0202 (pay-monthly)
0344 809 0222 (PAYG)
|+44 344 809 0202 (pay monthly)
+44 344 809 0222 (PAYG)
|Vodafone||03333 040191||+44 7836 191 191|
Since 1 October 2018, all mobile providers must give the option to limit the cost of bills to new customers, and to any existing customers who agree to extend their contract or enter into a new contract. We have published some useful FAQs on setting a mobile bill limit.
- Ensure you have the correct roaming data package to cover the country you are in, don’t assume you have it
- Use WiFi wherever possible
- Consider turning off Mobile Data
- Close down ALL your apps after using i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Google Maps