Tackling unexpectedly high bills – the consumer experience

Ofcom is today asking consumers to get in touch if they have received a higher than expected mobile, landline or broadband bill in the past 12 months.

Consumers can sometimes find themselves faced with bills for unexpected costs such as using their mobile abroad, making more calls than their monthly allowance, having their phone stolen, calling expensive or premium rate numbers, or downloading data.

Existing rules

There are already Ofcom rules in place to make sure that consumers are provided with clear and transparent information about their contracts and bills, as well as European regulations to limit charges when making calls or accessing the internet on a mobile phone while in Europe.

However, Ofcom’s research shows that 6 per cent of UK consumers received an unexpectedly high mobile phone bill over the past 12 months, with 18 per cent of those people receiving a bill of over £100 more than expected.

For landlines, 5 per cent of people had received an unexpectedly high bill over the past 12 months, with 9 per cent of those people receiving a bill of over £100 more than expected.

Consumers’ experiences

Ofcom would like to hear from consumers that have received a one-off unusually higher than expected mobile, landline, or broadband bill in the past 12 months, to consider whether there is a need for further action either by Ofcom or by communications providers. Ofcom is also talking to communications providers about the steps they already take to protect their customers from unexpectedly high bills.

As well as responses from individual consumers, Ofcom would also like to hear from other interested stakeholders. Ofcom will consider all responses to the Call for Inputs, and information gathered from communications providers in order to better understand the issues around unexpectedly high bills.

Ofcom would like to hear from consumers and stakeholders by 14 June 2011 and can be contacted via its website http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/unexpectedly-high-bills/, or by email at unexpectedlyhighbills@ofcom.org.uk[1][2]

The full Call for Inputs concerning unexpectedly high bills can be found here: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/unexpectedly-high-bills/[3]


1. Advice for consumers on what to do if they receive an unexpectedly high bill can be found at: http://consumers.ofcom.org.uk/2011/05/billing-problems/.[4]

2. Under section 3(1)(a) of the Communications Act 2003, Ofcom has a duty to further the interests of consumers and citizens in relation to communications matters.

3. Ofcom is the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, with responsibilities across television, radio, telecommunications and wireless communications services.

4. For further information about Ofcom please visit: www.ofcom.org.uk. Ofcom’s news releases can be found at: http://media.ofcom.org.uk/[5]


Amber Vassiliou
Media & Corporate Relations
0300 123 4000[6]


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