Tomorrow is World Consumer Rights Day. Not something I would celebrate as a rule. But now might be the time to start.
The particular focus of this year’s day is highlighting the consumer issues that are undermining and frustrating the success of mobile phone services. Though much of the day’s focus is on providing the near 7 billion people across the globe who use mobile phones with a reliable service, and increased security (and who would argue with that after the revelations in the current phone hacking trial in the UK?) one of the calls is to provide customers with clear and transparent billing and fair contracts “explained in clear, complete and accessible language”.
At Keep Me Posted, we’ve done some research on this which revealed that 28% of people have found themselves faced with unexpectedly high bills after failing to grasp the extent of the costs if they go over their proscribed tariff. Citizens Advice say today that 28,000 issues were reported to them in the last year related to phones and contracts and a staggering 102,000 sought online help after being faced with sky-high demands, phantom charges and billing errors. One woman apparently faced a bill for £2,000 for use of her mobile in the USA after failing to turn off her data roaming option.
It’s easy to say they should have known better – but our research revealed three quarters of people have no idea of the costs once they go over their tariff. World Consumer Rights Day information agrees that customer’s often feel cheated, due to unfair contract terms or because they didn’t understand what they had signed. That’s why we think people should have the choice of receiving paper information, in easily digestible language, so that they can get to grips with the consequences of exceeding their tariff, and be able to manage their accounts more easily.
Currently we think very few communications companies share our concerns. We’re hoping to speak to them all in the coming months and that they will sign up to our pledge. Now that really would be something worth celebrating.