Young mobile phone users struggle to meet monthly bills

Most users thought they were getting value for money with their mobiles. Picture Getty

Most users thought they were getting value for money with their mobiles. Picture Getty

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For many people, having a mobile phone has become an essential part of everyday life.

And with stores full of special offers at this time of year, some people will be planning to treat themselves to a new mobile phone for Christmas.

But before you upgrade your handset or decide to enter into a new mobile phone contract, it may be worth considering some 
new research from a charity that found that some people are struggling to keep up with the cost of their mobile phone bills.

The research from National Debtline, run by the Money Advice Trust (MAT), found that young people in particular can find it difficult to juggle mobile phone bills.

Some are missing payments and turning to borrowing to cover the cost, a survey of more than 2,000 18 to 24-year-olds found.

Around one in 12 young people say they regularly struggle to pay their mobile phone bill or top-up mobile phone credit.

Among those who have a mobile phone contract, 8 per cent have missed at least one monthly payment in the past year. And 7 per cent of people say they have borrowed money from a friend or family member to pay a mobile phone bill.

Many people end up paying more than they expect on running their mobile phone.

On average, 18 to 24-year-olds say they spend £21.88 a month on their mobile phone. More than a quarter (27 per cent) report that what they currently pay on their mobile phone is higher than they had expected.

The length of the contract may also be an issue for some people. More than two-thirds (68 per cent) feel that 24 months is too long to be locked into a contract.

However, most (61 per cent) of those surveyed think they get good value for money, despite 30 per cent disagreeing.

National Debtline says around one in 10 calls it receives involve telephone debts, up from around one in 25 calls in 2007.

Joanna Elson, chief executive of the MAT, says: “We would urge anyone who is falling behind with their mobile phone, or any other household bill, to seek free advice from a charity-run service like National Debtline as soon as possible.”

National Debtline says that, to avoid paying more than they need to, people should check they are getting the right minutes, texts and data for how they will use their phone.

It also suggests shopping around and using comparison websites such as MoneySavingExpert.com to help find a good deal.

Meanwhile, Ofcom, the regulator for the UK’s communication industries, says it is working to help improve the level of support for mobile phone customers who are struggling with their bills.

An Ofcom spokeswoman said: “People who are struggling with mobile debt must be treated fairly.

“We’re already engaging with mobile providers to encourage them to work more closely with debt advice organisations and improve the support they offer to customers facing payment difficulties.”

Ofcom says going over your allowance of calls, phoning numbers that your allowance doesn’t cover, sending texts with emojis or using too much data can potentially push up bills.

Ofcom has tips to avoid a bill shock on its website at tiny.cc/OfcomBillShock.

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