Car registration, insurance policies, mobile phone plans and passport renewals top the list of expiry dates Australians are most likely to forget about, according to research by GetReminded.
GetReminded co-founder Tim Nicholas said the demise of car registration stickers last decade meant the only reminder motorists now received was an email or letter in the post that was easy to set aside and forget.
“And then you couple that with the way in which the police can now scan your car registration plate and quickly identify you as someone that perhaps hasn’t paid your car registration on time – and pull you over and fine you on the spot,” he told The New Daily.
Mr Nicholas said a combination of the two developments had led to “an explosion in fines”.
The New South Wales government caught 5440 motorists driving an unregistered vehicle in January alone and raised $4 million in fines.
And motoring organisations in South Australia have reported a doubling in the number of fines issued each month since car registration stickers were abandoned in 2011-12.
“When people find that out, they go, ‘well, one of the first [reminders] I’m going to set up is ‘when is my car registration due’, because that is something I do not want to forget’,” Mr Nicholas said.
The courts are known for offering no leniency when it comes to appealing against car registration fines, with NSW charging light-vehicle owners $697 for driving without valid registration, and Victoria and SA charging $826 and $509 respectively.
Second to car registration on the list of our most worrisome due dates were insurance policies.
Mr Nicholas said he believed this was because people were developing a better understanding of ‘loyalty taxes‘, which refer to the widespread practice among banks, insurers and utility providers of charging existing customers higher prices than new customers.
“If you have an insurance policy with company A, and you’ve been with them for a few years, and they just keep sending you a renewal every year, and you keep paying it, then you’re probably paying over the odds,” Mr Nicholas said.
The consumer advocate said mobile phone plans and passport renewals also made the list because the contracts tended to be much longer and were more likely to slip off the radar.
“Passports go for five or 10 years for most people – and that is so far off in the future that you kinda go, ‘Look I’ve renewed it now, I can forget about it’,” Mr Nicholas said.
But this attitude could be a recipe for disaster if travellers attempt to book a holiday after the expiry date, with some countries also requiring passports to have a minimum length of validity.
As for mobile phones, Mr Nicholas said people often bought a new handset as part of a bundled data plan lasting 24 or 36 months, and then remained on overpriced plans once the deal expired rather than taking their handset to a cheaper plan elsewhere.
“If you can look for better ways to save two, three, four, five hundred bucks a year across those items, then it’s worthwhile putting that money back in your own pocket,” Mr Nicholas said.
“It will add up.”
Consumers can shop around for better deals on consumer comparison sites like Finder, Canstar, and whistleout.com.au.