According to the Ombudsman Services operators could be making a larger effort to make sure that consumers understand the different types of costs that are associated with using data on mobile phones. Lewis Shand Smith, the chief ombudsman, stated that operators need to focus on three things: to be clear in advertisements, to offer advice to consumers, and to offer advice on how much data is used per a simple download.
By clarifying just what usage is on average it will be easier for the average consumer to stay within their means.
The term ‘unlimited’ used in many mobile providers advertisements has come under scrutiny a lot over the past year with the Advertising Standards Agency taking a close look into what the term actually means. The Agency decided that the term was acceptable if the customer is clearly made aware of what limits are actually included with that phrase and it is used in a way that does not offer a standard user according to a statement made this week by the communications ombudsman.
The only operator in the UK that actually has an ‘unlimited plan’ that is not underwritten by a fair usage policy is the Three network whereas other networks still have a limit of how many megabytes of data can be used per month before the limit is surpassed and extra chargers are tacked on. One of the large reasons that customers exceed their limits and are subject to surprisingly large bills is the fact that smartphones are now used on a regular basis that offer access to downloading and streaming services that take utilize a large amount of data.
As part of the statement the Ombudsman Services wrote that the issue is still developing and that they have received a great deal of complaints about the way providers’ bill for high data usage. The spokesman continued to say that this proves just how valuable the service actually is because they are able to raise awareness about certain problems such as this before they become too widespread and too many people find themselves in trouble with a particular consumer service.
The ombudsman continued to point out that consumers that roam while using their cell phones are better informed then those that use data services within the UK because while roaming in Europe a network has to tell the user when they are getting close to their download limit but when the mobile is used at home no such regulation exists. Therefore, it is much easier to go past your month’s usage plan and start to compile high charges while using a phone in the UK then it is while travelling since the user knows when they are getting close to their limit. The ombudsman also added that consumers need to be more aware of all terms and conditions before a new contract is signed with a network.