Wednesday, 18 October 2017 07:32

Don't be an excess data charges victim: $133m wasted by Australians

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A new report shows Aussies are underestimating their mobile data needs more than ever, paying $133 million, or 78% more, than the same time last year.

Surveying 2010 respondents, a new Excess Data Charges report by Finder.com.au also shows that one in five Australian adults (19.6%) "regularly exceed their data allowance, up from 13.4% in 2016 and 5.6% in 2015".

With an average industry cost of $10 per extra GB and conservatively estimating each smartphone user went over their data cap by just 1GB, Finder tell us "this represents $259 million cumulatively spent on excess data charges".

The nifty comparison shopping website's Alex Kidman says "it’s wise to look at the fine print of your contract before you sign the dotted line, especially as charges can vary".

“Some telcos are now charging $12 or even $13 per extra gigabyte which may not seem like a big deal, but if you’re regularly going over your allowance, that could be an extra few hundred dollars a year," continues Kidman. 

“Our report shows Aussies are increasingly underestimating how much data they need, and they’re paying for it. But what many don’t realise is choosing a higher limit is typically a lot cheaper than paying excess data charges.

“If you’re running into excess data charges three or four times a year, you should consider switching your plan to a more data-friendly option.

“Our mobile data consumption continues to grow as we increasingly use our phones for watching videos and social media, so the key is to generally overestimate how much data you’ll need when choosing a new plan.”

The report also reveals that "a worrying 16% don’t even know if they exceed their limit as they have auto-debit and never check the total of their bill", while "a third of Gen Y (36%) regularly go over their data limits versus 21% of Gen X and 7% Baby Boomers".

Here's Finder's chart:

Here's Finder's tips on how to avoid excess data charges:

1. Check your data limit
It may sound simple, but the key to avoiding excess charges is knowing what your limit is and then slowing down until the month ticks over. You can also use apps and alerts which will help manage your consumption.

2. Know what apps are data-hungry
Some apps consume more data than others. For example, video streaming is the number one candidate for why your mobile data bills are so high, especially if you watch video at higher quality data rates.

3. Avoid those activities when you’re out and about
After you’ve brushed up on how much data apps and activities consume, think twice before you use them. You might be bored on the bus, but one hour of YouTube at the end of the month could mean an extra $10 to your bill.

4. Use free Wi-Fi
Wherever you can, tap into free Wi-Fi. Just be mindful but that public networks can be a major security risk. Hold off doing your banking or shopping online on free Wi-Fi to when you have a secure connection.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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