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Mobile price increases ‘by stealth’: ACCC

Mobile phone plans
Users are recharging more and paying up to 25 per cent extra for their mobile service, a report says. Photo: Getty
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Mobile phone users are paying for data they do not use and the consumer watchdog wants operators to take action.

Plans offering “more-for-more” are increasingly offered by Optus, Telstra and Vodafone but the average person is using less and paying more.

A report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found people on a postpaid plan used just 11.8GB of data of their monthly 35GB data allowance on average.

People on prepaid plans used an average of 6.3GB a month, compared to a data allowance of 30GB.

Commissioner Anna Brakey said a decision by operators to reduce prepaid plan expiry from 35 days to 28 days was a price increase “by stealth”.

People were recharging more often and over a year were paying up to 25 per cent more for their mobile phone service, the report found.

Broadband services also increased costs in 2021, with people paying up to 11 per cent more – $10 a month – for a higher-speed plan than they did in 2019.

Telco comparison service WhistleOut said people tended to treat their bills as “set and forget” but instead they should take advantage of incentives for new customers.

Spokesman Kenny McGilvary said many providers offered six-month price discounts and consumers could cut costs in half by switching mobile and internet plans to a new operator.

In 2021, about 650,000 households trialled higher-speed internet plans at no cost through promotional offers, but 46 per cent reverted to lower-speed plans when the offers ended.

The report found people did not consider paying more for fast internet to be good value when slower plans worked for them.

The watchdog said consumers should weigh up their internet needs and choose a broadband plan relevant to them, given the higher prices being charged for some plans.

-AAP

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