Sky-high phone bills frustrate Fin24 users

2016-01-11 10:18
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Johannesburg - Cellphone bills that run into thousands of rands because of data usage have Fin24 users fuming.

Fin24 reported on Sunday that the South African National Consumer Union (Sancu) is urging consumers to be aware of smartphone charges after receiving complaints from users with bills running over R20 000.

This comes as nearly 500 cellphone-related complaints were sent to Sancu during 2015, according to the union’s chairperson Ina Wilken.

Sancu went on further to say that data bundles appear to be the “big issue” and that consumers should be aware that smartphones can use large amounts of data when performing certain functions. This data usage can also tap out of bundle rates, which are costly.

Sancu, though, said that mobile networks should do more to alert consumers to possible high costs involved with downloading data. Meanwhile, mobile networks also responded to Sancu’s comments by telling Fin24 of how they communicate to customers when they reach their data limits.

In the meantime, Fin24 users have come forward with their stories of how they have had frustrating experiences with very high phone bills.

Fin24 user Francois wrote that he's experienced receiving a high bill:

Mine was pretty much the same nonsense. I was browsing the internet and got an SMS to say my estimate data bill was R4 000 and the line was suspended.. It was acceptable and left it at that… then the next morning I got a message that said  my phone bill was R21 000… Phone Vodacom and they said the SMS was just an estimate, and the R21 000 is correct… still trying to pay it off… So currently I cannot use that number, but they still charge me R1 400 for the contract, plus interest on the R21 000, and I have to make due with pay as you go.

Fin24 user Gareth Muller says he’s also had a disputed bill that runs over R20 000:

My name is Gareth Muller and I have been disputing a R24 600 phone bill with no assistance from Autopage or Icasa

Icasa responded to my pleas for help and then never got back to me despite multiple calls and emails asking for a reply. To save my credit record I ended up just paying the bill.

Fin24 user Sarah said she's experienced this problem multiple times:

I have had this problem three times now - my account went up 100% to what it normally is. I was refunded twice by Vodacom and now they don't want to do so again. All updates are off, in fact I went to Vodacom and they concurred that everything that needed to be off was indeed off. Each time I have logged a data dispute, Vodacom blame Apple, Apple say it's not them. I'm left in the middle. What recourse do I have?

Fin24 user Ettienne said he received a high bill despite implementing a limit on his account:

I have an MTN data contract and have incurred a bill of R12 800 after requesting with the inception of a monthly limit of R500 on the account in 2012. This is still active on my account if I check on the internet account information on their website.

My account over the period never exceeded R1 000 and the dongle stopped working in April 2015. I however went only in May 2015 to an MTN shop to ask them to test the dongle. They informed me that there was money in arrears on the account but it has been paid monthly successfully each month from inception. The lady that assisted me opened the account and I was able to use the dongle for 14 hours and the account was locked again. The next month I received the bill of R12 800. I disputed it immediately with MTN and have been in correspondence with MTN and Icasa with the dispute and still have not resolved the issue with them.

Trying to resolve this with them proved to be virtually impossible and a challenge that has been dragging on for many months. The amount of man hours spent on emails, calls and trying to track down somebody that can assist to resolve the matter keeps on escalating due to the arrogance and the inability of the call centre staff to fully understand the situation. Icasa’s assistance also proved to be no help at all.

I am of the opinion that it is much better to use data on prepaid services to prevent unnecessary headaches for yourselves.

Fin24 user Clinton wrote that he's also trying to deal with a pricey bill:

Hi There,

Very relevant article for me right now: My fourteen year old son ran up data charges over October and November with Vodacom of R6 000 and R11 000 respectively. Apple devices apparently have a default setting that switches the phone from Wi-Fi to cellular data if they detect that the Wi-Fi is slow. He WAY exceeded his Vodacom data bundle without having any idea that he was using cellular data. The very rude lady at the Vodacom call center simply told us when we queried the charges that he was being charged out of bundle rates...

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on Fin24 have been independently written by members of the Fin24 community. The views of users published on Fin24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent those of Fin24.

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