ACCC warns iPhone users to watch out for excessive data charges

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Graeme Samuel has warned smart phone users to be aware they will be face “significant costs” if they exceed usage caps attached to the devices.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Graeme Samuel has warned smart phone users to be aware they will be face “significant costs” if they exceed usage caps attached to the devices.

Samuel’s warning was promoted by the release of Apple’s iPhone two weeks ago. “As often happens with new technology, consumer protection issues follow,” Samuel said in a statement.

“The ACCC is particularly concerned that consumers may be misled if they are not made sufficiently aware that their data allocations can be exceeded – at significant cost.

Earlier this month, the ACCC wrote to telecommunication carriers alerting them to concerns about the potential for consumers to be misled about mobile data usage charges, and asking them to advise how they intend to deal with this issue and what information they will be providing to consumers.

“Before consumers decide on which handset or plan to buy, they should consider their likely data use, seek guidance from the retailer and then choose the most appropriate data plan,” Samuel said.

He also recommended smart phone users take out a bit of insurance by taking up services offered by most phone carriers that allow customers to monitor their data usage or be alerted (usually via the internet or an SMS message) if they are approaching their plan’s limit. Some handsets also include data usage meters to make this process easier.

“Consumers must think twice before signing contracts with a mobile phone carrier without upfront disclosure of all the fees and charges, including excess data charges.

“The ACCC will remain vigilant in this new area and where it receives concern over inadequate disclosure of terms and conditions of data use, will act quickly.”

 

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