CLOSE to half of Australian mobile users are receiving bill shock and paying 40 per cent more than their advertised monthly contract, according to a study of the sector by Macquarie University.
The study finds that the average advertised monthly cap cost is about $53 but the actual cost to consumers averages $73.
The study’s author David Gray said one of the main factors behind excess charges was data usage as more people switched to smart phones.
”The data amount is probably going to increase as people move to 4G,” Dr Gray said of the new high-speed wireless services.
”This data would become more of a problem over the next 12 to 24 months as more of these 4G services begin to hit the market.”
Penetration of smartphones in the Australian mobile market has led to increased demand for data and complaints about disputed internet usage charges.
Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Simon Cohen said last month the increased use of smartphones had triggered a doubling in complaints about unexpectedly high bills and a 150 per cent surge in complaints about disputed internet usage charges.
The Australian Communication and Media Authority said a new consumer protection code introduced this year would give better protection to mobile phone customers.
The new code restricts use of the term ”cap” and forces providers to send usage alerts to customers on included value plans.
The study, which was jointly funded by Amaysim, a low-cost mobile services provider, found mobile users between the age of 25 to 39 were the hardest hit by bill shock. It found 40 per cent are paying more than their advertised monthly cap plan and their monthly bill averages $88 – the highest among all age groups.