Survey says: most overspend on mobiles

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CNET Editor

Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon

A week ago we asked readers about how much they are paying for mobile phone plans and 34 per cent of those who responded said they often use less than 50 per cent of their monthly phone contract allowance.

Just over 60% of readers said they use less than 80% of their caps.
(Credit: CBSi)

1100 CNET readers responded to our survey, with 367 readers saying they use less than half of the services they pay for each month, and a further 289 readers telling us they use less than 80-percent. Of these readers, 85 per cent were locked into postpaid contracts and 65 per cent were paying AU$50 or more each month for their phones and their service.

In contrast, just under 15-percent of the 1100 respondents said they often exceed their allowance and need to pay for excess use. Of the people who told us they regularly blow the budget, most of these readers said the excess is typically around AU$20 extra. Interestingly, this number significantly increases for customers who pay AU$100 or more for for their contract. These readers told us their excess usage charges are typically over AU$50, with many saying they often double their bill.

We shared these figures with industry analyst Mark Novosel at IDC who believes these figures could reflect the difficulty some phone customers have in checking the balances of their accounts throughout a billing month. "It is extremely difficult to try and keep track of your calls without knowing how much cap value you have spent," said Novosel.

"Different handsets have data counters built in, and there are various apps which can help users to monitor their data use, but monitoring the calling and messaging allowance on caps is much more difficult."

A breakdown of the monthly spend of CNET readers revealed AU$50 per-month to be the most popular amount, though there was an even spread across the spectrum from AU$20 to those who spend over AU$100 each month. Novosel also pointed out that our survey's prepaid/postpaid split of 20/80-percent was higher than the 45/55-percent (prepaid/postpaid) current Australian market split, suggesting our readers might be more likely to go on higher plans to get the premium phones they want.

CNET readers represent spending across the spectrum from $20 to $100 or more.
(Credit: CBSi)

What do you think? Do you overspend on your phone bill? Do you think it should be easy to keep tabs on how much you spend each month? Let us know in the comments below.

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Richie posted a comment   

I would personally love to see and end to "Confuse-a-Plans" and "Confuse-a-Caps", where you get "$500 of value" for $49/month. Clearly, phone companies aren't so benevolent that they'll provide services that cost $500 for $50 a month.

These arrangements make it difficult to compare alternative offerings on the basis of price, do not serve the interests of consumers seeking transparency in pricing and serve only the obfuscating interests of the phone companies.

Calls should be quoted on a cost per minute basis, SMSs on a cents/msg basis and combined upload/download data either on an included allowance basis or $/GB basis.

In the finance industry, retail lenders are required to provide a "comparison rate" to try to cut through the fog. Phone companies should do the same, according to an agreed standard.


JoeH2 posted a reply   

I love the idea of a comparison rate. Hopefully by this time next year we'll all be on competitively priced unlimited calling plans.


ChrisS1 posted a comment   

Not every body can go and hand over a $600 plus for the phone they want. On a contract is much easier way to get a new phone.


Sam posted a comment   

I think a lot of the over spending has to do with the fact that a lot of the phones people want, are only available on more expensive plans, or plans which give more credit/calls/text etc, then what they would normally need.


blaah posted a reply   
New Zealand

well if that's the case, then i believe many of these people would be better off just purchasing the phone off-contract. Although it appears that it costs more, there are monthly savings that may pay off the additional costs.

but of course, do the maths first.


Sam posted a reply   

That's exactly what I did.

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