Citizens Advice estimates 12 million people with a SIM-only contract affected
The majority (71%) of mobile customers with a SIM-only plan are overpaying for data they don’t use. Citizens Advice says that this is costing £800 million per year.
SIM-only mobile customers could save approximately £63 per year by switching to a cheaper deal that matched their data consumption.
The average amount of data wasted each month was 2GB. This is equivalent to streaming 3 hours of video or 28 hours of music.
Citizens Advice estimates this affects 12 million people in the UK who have a SIM-only contract. While polling only asked SIM-only clients, Citizens Advice said this likely affects people who have bundled contracts too.
Sales practices ‘could particularly be leading consumers to take out contracts with excessive data allowances’
People who purchased their contract in store were found to waste 4.2GB on average. Those who bought online waste 2.6GB, suggesting sales practices in store could particularly be leading consumers to take out contracts with excessive data allowances.
The charity is urging more mobile networks to refund unused data, or make it easier for customers to reduce their monthly allowance if they find they are wasting data repeatedly.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said:
“Mobile companies should be doing more to help their customers save on data they don’t use, especially when it’s clear people are consistently underusing their allowance.
“This is another example of mobile companies overcharging their customers. It’s time for a consumer champion to stand up for people and push for change on issues like this.”
The charity previously found mobile phone companies profit £475 million each year by continuing to charge customers for phones they have already paid off.
“While we wait for industry to improve support for customers, individuals can take action too. Anyone looking to save money should check their data usage and see if they can switch to a cheaper deal that matches what they use.”
Citizens Advice is calling for an independent consumer champion for the mobile and broadband industries to stand up to practices that exploit customers.