Recently The Age ran another such story written by Ben Grubb refers to this phenomena as "Bill Shock" and claims that consumers have a 95 per cent chance of successfully recovering the majority of their excess charges. But what a process and hassle and you must put in the time to complain through the right channels.
Ben Grubb cited firms, such as Perth company Financial Redress who offers to go into battle with the telcos for you in exchange for a 25 per cent fee, but managing director James Middleweek said anyone could shave thousands off their bills on their own without using a firm such as his.
This one company looked through 350 statements, it was deemed that 310 customers had a case against their telco, Of those 310, this company was successfully able to retrieve a substantial amount of money back for 296 customers (about 95 per cent of those it was deemed had a credible case). The average refund was $1050, he said, and his company had spent about one to six hours working on each case. www.theage.com.au
Well-Being Australia chairman Mark Tronson suggests that this is only part of the story. He believes half the problem is the purchasing "market place" and Ben Grubb in someway addresses this when he says that the market place has so many different offers in place that it has a built in confusion status whereby customers often settle for something far more costly then their needs.
The critical area for discussion
Mark Tronson says this is the critical area for discussion and redress. So rather than spending 25% of your rightful claim after weeks and weeks of hassle, trying to get your money, yes, your money, back into your pocket, look more carefully at your needs.
He has himself witnessed the plethora of options available under this or that mobile phone plan where it all becomes so confusing that one does not know whether to turn to the right or to the left. It is bewildering to say the least. When purchasing a motor vehicle there are some basic guides lines one has in mind – essential considerations such as the purpose and size of the motor vehicle.
But all those sensible options goes out the window when it comes to a mobile phone – they all look small and hand bag size-ish. It's the plan that is purchased along with the phone that is the tricky part and everyone has their own story and their own best-buy.
Proper Questions to Ask
The first question he suggests, is whether you want to purchase a phone handset outright and then choose the plan to go with it, or whether you want a phone up front and pay for the phone handset as part of the plan. Over 20 years, having done both, Mark Tronson says his advice, is that if you can afford it, buy the phone handset outright.
Second, "Phone Plans" he likens to the mini series 'Hiroshima' and the new civilian Japanese Prime Minister's first speech to his cabinet in April 1945 where he waxed lyrical on fighting to the last Japanese ma, woman and child. Later, Army Chief Ammi was asked by his Naval counterpart on the new Prime Minister's death-defying comments. Ammi's response, can be likened to Mobile Phone Plans: "He's as tricky as a monk".
That about sums it up, says Mark Tronson. One way forward he suggests, is a "pre-paid" monthly deal whereby when it runs out, it runs out and nothing more is spent. That is, unless you do a specific top up to get you through that month.
Money is a crucial issue
Moreover, he says, you'll soon realise what phone calls or what on-line Internet use is costing the most money. And, a pre-paid implies the phone is already your own property.
As a missionary for 30 years he has always had to look very carefully at expenditure. In his situation, pre-paid is both cautionary and wise. Texting is sometimes added as a bonus or is free, and calls and texts after normal business hours are often free.
He has a deal whereby he pays $30 a month, gets the normal value of calls, plus a $250 bonus for calls and texts, moreover texts and calls after 6.00pm and before 8.00am free of charge, along with weekends. He recently went to his local Telstra Business Office (Tweed Heads Chamber of Commerce links) and went through his entire IT expenditure and to his pleasure discovered his careful analysis was the best on offer for each aspect of his needs.
Young people today are constantly downloading anything from web sites to emails off the Internet into their mobile phones. Mark Tronson says he does very little of that to date.
He suggests, that if this a perennial feature of your communication, then you need to accommodate that in your plan selection whether that is a pre-paid or otherwise.
Mark Tronson notes that a number of his Christian friends no longer take their bulky bibles to church, rather the Bible App is on their mobile and they bring up the reading and follow it on the mobile phone screen. It's become so normal that one blinks an eye now.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html