The top five worst mobile phone scams!
Find out how to avoid being ripped off by your mobile phone provider...
Many lovemoney.com readers agreed with me last week that mobile phone insurance is a complete rip-off. Unfortunately, however, it's not the only rip-off associated with mobile phones. Oh no, there are plenty more sneaky traps that mobile phone companies try to snare you with!
So in this article, I'm going to highlight five of the worst scams around and suggest how you can avoid them.
1) Overpriced insurance
Obviously, as I mentioned last week, one of the biggest rip-offs associated with mobile phones is insurance. Usually this type of insurance is riddled with catches, meaning that if you suddenly need to make a claim, you'll probably find you can't.
What's more, mobile phone insurance policies are often ridiculously expensive - particularly if the policy is with your mobile phone provider.
You'll also usually need to pay an excess of around £15-25, so you need to consider whether this is really worth it. Not only that, but if any damage to your phone is what's classed as a 'manufacturing problem' or general wear and tear, your insurance is unlikely to cover you.
How to avoid: Consider other ways to protect your phone - for example, check your home insurance policy to see whether this covers your mobile phone sufficiently. It could be worth adding personal possessions cover to your policy so that you'll be covered outside the home.
Alternatively, pay a regular amount into a savings account so that you've got money to fall back on if you lost or damaged your phone. And keep an old phone to use as a replacement in an emergency.
2) 0845, 0870 and even 0800 numbers
Calling telephone numbers that begin '08' can be outrageously expensive, particularly if you're calling from your mobile - in fact, this could cost you as much as 45p per minute. Even if you're calling supposed freephone '0800' numbers! Ouch.
So if you're regularly phoning these numbers - for example, if you're phoning your bank or making an online booking - the costs can soon rack up. And this could provide you with a nasty shock next time you receive your bill.
How to avoid: One option is to use SayNoTo0870, an independent site which provides cheaper alternative numbers (in some cases even free 0800 options) for the companies you need to call.
Another option is to choose a mobile tariff that incorporates 08 calls in its price - such as the T-Mobile 'Flext' price plans.
These plans give customers a 'credit allowance' instead of a set number of texts and minutes, so you can use this credit allowance however you choose. As part of this, you can use your allowance for calls to certain 08 numbers - such as 0845, 0870 and 0800. The downside is that you will have to fork out at least £40 a month. Find out more in The most flexible mobile phone tariff ever!
BT Mobile, meanwhile, allows free calls to 0800 and 0500 numbers - but not 0845 and 0870.
3) Using your phone abroad
There's nothing worse than getting back from a wonderful holiday and being whacked in the face with a whopping great phone bill. But unfortunately if you use your mobile phone to call or text from overseas, you're likely to be paying an awful lot for the privilege.
Fortunately, thanks to a European Parliament ruling, calling and messaging costs have started to come down. From 1st July, charges for sending a text were capped at a maximum of 11 euro cents (around 10p), while caps on UK voice calls were lowered to 43 cents (around 39p), and the cost of receiving a call was capped at 19 cents (around 17p).
However, if you're planning to use your phone on a regular basis while you're away, this can still equate to a chunky bill - and don't forget that you'll be paying to receive a call as well as make one. Outrageously, this is also the case if you call to check your voicemail while abroad. You will be charged the overseas rate to receive the call - whether your phone is on or off. And you'll be charged at the same rate again when you call to listen to the message.
How to avoid: If you can stick to texting, take out an O2 pay monthly or Simplicity plan as these include texts sent from abroad within your standard allowance. One roaming text or media message is the equivalent of four messages sent in the UK.
Alternatively, you could consider paying a bit extra for a bolt-on option. Find out more tips in Cut the cost of calling from abroad.
Finally, ask your network provider to switch off your voicemail before you go away. Or, if this worries you, change your answering machine message to state that you are abroad and would only like callers to leave messages if their call is extremely urgent.
4) Tempting freebies
Many mobile phone companies offer freebies - such as a Wii Fit package or a laptop - in return for taking out a contract. But while these can sound unbelievably tempting, if you take a closer look, you're likely to find that they are in fact anything but free.
More often than not, these freebies require you to tie yourself into a lengthy contract and fork out a fairly large sum for the tariff each month. And in fact, you may find that by getting a far cheaper tariff and just buying the 'freebie' yourself, you'll save yourself some pennies. You can read more about this in The dos and don'ts of getting a mobile phone deal.
How to avoid: Check the terms and conditions carefully and consider whether the deal is really worth it. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!
5) Cashback deals
Cashback offers can be another great way to lure you in. Quite often, you'll be offered a deal such as 12 months' free line rental.
To claim your cashback, you'll be asked to send in various monthly bills - such as the 3rd, 6th and 11th. But if you forget to send one, or your statement gets lost in the post - and let's face it, the way the post is at the moment, that's quite likely - you can kiss goodbye to your cashback deal for good!
How to avoid: If you're going to try your luck with a cashback deal make sure you're super organised and are prepared to meet these tight deadlines. Make a note in your diary or set a reminder in your phone or email calendar so that you know when to send your statements.
It's also a good idea to send your bills by recorded delivery so you have proof that your statements got to their intended destination. Find out more in 8 cashback mobile phone tips!
Finally, whatever you do, keep your wits about you. You never know when a new rip-off will be invented to catch you out.
What are your top mobile phone rip-offs? Let us know using the comments box below!
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