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Ofcom seek consumer responses on 'bill shock'
Tuesday 10 May 2011 13:05:40 by John Hunt

Ofcom are to investigate unexpectedly high bills, known as 'bill shock', received by consumers and are calling on those who have received a higher than expected mobile, landline or broadband bill in the past 12 months to get in touch. One in sixteen people has received an unexpectedly high mobile bill over the last 12 months with nearly one in five of these (18%) being over £100 more than expected.

Consumers are already protected in some ways, for example limits to charges when making calls or using data when in Europe, but Ofcom would like to better understand the extent of their issue and are running a consultation to gather this data.

A survey carried out of 2000 people in November found mobile phones to be the most common reason for bill shock. Six percent of those questioned had received high mobile bills and the reasons for these were:

  • Calls not included in the bundle (19%)
  • Calls made to 0845/0870 numbers (16%)
  • Customers exceeding their inclusive bundles (15%)
  • International calls
  • Using the mobile phone abroad (6%)

Five percent of those questioned had received bill shock for landline calls and the reasons were:

  • Calls made to 0845/0870 numbers (14%)
  • Calls to mobiles (11%)
  • Customers making more calls than they expected (11%)
  • Incorrect charges (11%)
  • International calls (9%)

Three percent had received bill shock for fixed-line broadband and one percent for mobile broadband.

Ofcom's call for comment asks consumers 24 questions about the reasons behind the high bill and how the consumer complained about the issue, as well as the impact it had on them. If you have been affected by this issue you can respond to the ofcom consultation here.


Posted by krazykizza over 5 years ago
My mother rarely uses the landline out of off peak and weekend times, and yet our quarterly bill has come in at £89. Shes a little shocked to say the least.
Posted by jrawle over 5 years ago
"Calls made to 0845/0870 numbers". Shouldn't that be 0844/0871 numbers? Many landlines are including 0845 and 0870 calls now, so due to the loss of revenue, companies are increasingly switching to those even bigger rip-off numbers.
Posted by fredlawton over 5 years ago
Sky inclusive calls include 0870 numbers but not 0845 numbers so sky users beware
Posted by asylum_seeker over 5 years ago
So Ofcom want to investigate 'unexpectedly' high bills ran up by the masses. Perhaps they should investigate why the masses can't read the small print, after all EVERY SINGLE CHARGE is shown in the operators' tariff? Perhaps Ofcom should set up reading classes at every Specsavers branch up and down the country?
Posted by philce over 5 years ago
In response to asylum_seeker, have you tried to find the EXACT charge for 0844/0871? It isnt just a case of looking at a standard charge for the whole number range, its a joke!
Ok so the type of person who will post here is capable of getting the prices, what about someone who isnt able to get online, or will just "assume" its not a higher rate than normal? 4 mobile operators, 4 different charges, not counting the virtual operators.

All these different and confusing charges need to be sorted.
Posted by NICK_ADSL_UK over 5 years ago
i have had ongoing problems with t mobile for the last 6 months so i have now taken their fixed tariff for £15 per month as there was no way out of the muddle that they have got themselves into

Personally i think their all the same they all give a bad service ?
Posted by NICK_ADSL_UK over 5 years ago
The online billing part has always been wrong and am told it will stay like it billed in seconds as i have a offer and what is displayed is the standard tariff billed in minutes and seconds

Very few staff speak English that you can understand and ofcom have told me to ditch them as they are a liability but as i have said in my post above aren't they all the same with bad service ?
Posted by asylum_seeker over 5 years ago
Yes, i'm perfectly aware there are about a zillion different 0844x/0871x numbers all with different charging bands. Nevertheless the tariffs are clearly (yes really) displayed in the charges section of the telecom provider so ignorance cannot be used as an excuse by the masses. If someone genuinely doesn't know how much they're being charged, you would think they would ask the telecom company/friend/neighbour/citizens advise bureau before the "shock" hits them eh?
Posted by asylum_seeker over 5 years ago
At the end of the day many (obviously not all) people are too lazy to find out what calling a particular number costs, yet when they get the huge bill they expect to wriggle out of it citing their ignorance as an excuse.
Posted by philce over 5 years ago
The point I am trying to make is that ofcom should clamp down on these companies that are clearly profiting from us having to call them, then being held in queues earning them a fortune.

Your average "joe" wont be able to figure out the charges for the number he/she is calling.

It should be 0871 one rate 0844 another etc. none of this multiple different rates.
Posted by bjmccourt over 5 years ago
A compnay providing information about exorbitant charges to the public - however thay might choose to do that - and whether or not someone is aware of these charges is not really an issue is it? Surely there must be a case for appropriate legislation to prevent any company from choosing to "fleece" users/customers? Opting to "accept" the fleecing cannot morally justify the action of doing so. The argument such compabies make that users were "aware" could be extrapolated to justify many many other illegitimate activities too numerous to list...
Posted by asylum_seeker over 5 years ago
Well if you can't beat 'em then join 'em
Enough said :)
Posted by Jimkirk363 over 5 years ago
Tell u what im on pay as u go and have 300 txts a month free when i topup. I dont use the 300 txts and rarely use my mobile for outgoing calls yet for some unknown reason i managed to use £40 in less than 2 months and still my provider and i cant agree on how.
Posted by Dixinormous over 5 years ago
If you can't keep a track of what you're using you shouldn't have a post-pay mobile phone, and perhaps no unrestricted landline either.

Whatever did we do before regulators wrapped us in cotton wool and treated us like morons? Maybe we had to use our brains a touch and, well, not be morons as we couldn't go crying to them.
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
The biggest problem isn't listed properly... international calls from a mobile 44%. So the reality is people gassing for ages on an international mobile call, instead of keeping it short and sweet.
Posted by philce over 5 years ago
asylum_seeker, like I said, its easy for us savvy enough to use an alternative provider, most users that Ofcom are targeting dont even know they have inclusive calls on their landlines!

How many people still think 03 numbers are not standard rate??
Posted by chrysalis over 5 years ago
calls not included in bundle I am victim off, I see no good reason why 0845/0800 are excluded.
Posted by TGVrecord over 5 years ago
I have to disagree with Asylum seeker about people being too lazy to find out the tariff for 0845 numbers. Lots of folk are very busy and many companies highlight that the call cost is at local rate. Is it any surprise that people get shocked by large bills after calling a 0845 number. I once got caught out myself phoning my bank and was surprised at the cost. Welcome to rip of Britain!
Posted by nstrudwick over 5 years ago
I would agree with the last poster. The notices say "local rate" or "national rate" and it is quite possible someone has taken a package which includes local and national calls, and thus (reasonably) thinks they are included. These tariffs seem an anachronism today, a throwback to when there were so many different charge bands.

Personally, if I see 084... or 087... I go straight to
Posted by Teefenn1 over 5 years ago
I consider the real scandal to be that companies are legally allowed to charge you at all when you have to contact them to sort out their mistakes. That many compound the cost by deliberately keeping you in a queue for sometimes 30 minutes would be criminal activity in any sane society.
Posted by AspieMum over 5 years ago
To asylum_seeker: there are many people out there who struggle to find time to do anything, such as many unpaid carers, and those with dyslexia and blindness may not have a list of the numbers they can listen to instead of read- all these people through no fault of their own may not be able to have done their homework on what the charges are for these numbers.
Posted by AspieMum over 5 years ago
Many companies expect you to phone numbers that are 08... to get your fridge, cooker, etc repaired or many other helplines and then make you wait for ages in a que to get to speak to someone- even benefits advice falls into this category.
Posted by AspieMum over 5 years ago
To nstrudwick: And what about those who can't just go to that website to get a different number for their urgent call?- those with no computer who have to book a slot at their local library to use one, or who can't read what is on the screen if they could get to a computer? Not everyone has that option.
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