Our latest campaign at Citizens Advice aims at enhancing the debt collection processes of mobile phone providers and allowing customers to put a price cap on their mobile charges. The local energy team at Citizens Advice Gateshead is collecting evidence to help push the campaign forwards.

With 95% of households owning at least one mobile phone and many ditching their landline in favour of a mobile device, the poor debt collection practices of the mobile phone industry is an issue which affects the vast majority of society,

Citizens Advice advisors aid approximately 40,000 people a year with mobile debt and our specialist debt advisors have helped resolve £11 million in mobile debts.

A recent report by the charity uncovered numerous systematic failures in the way debt is collected by mobile phone providers and revealed that mobile phone debt disproportionately impacts young people and low-income earners.

We’re urging mobile providers to sign up to our debt collection charter, which is made up of 5 key points. We want mobile phone companies to:

  1. Direct their customers to sources of free debt advice and collaborate with debt advisers acting on behalf of their customers.
  2. Proactively make contact with customers who are experiencing payment difficulties.
  3. Make it easier for customers to contact companies about their bill and negotiate repayment rates which reflect their ability to pay.
  4. Suspend collection action when the customer reasonably disputes the debt.
  5. Help customers avoid debt by allowing them to set a cap on the monthly cost of their bills.

So far, we’ve been working with major UK mobile service providers to improve their debt collection practices and most have agreed to sign up to the first four commitments. However, it is proving difficult to convince these companies to allow customers to place caps on their mobile phone spending.

Allowing customers to place caps on their mobile bills is incredibly important; shockingly high bills usually stem from customers unknowingly exceeding the services offered in their monthly tariff. A cap on mobile phone bills would allow a customer to eliminate the possibility of accidental overspending

Surprise mobile phone bills have been shown to make existing debt problems worse, with 70% of the people asking Citizens Advice for assistance with mobile debt also enquiring about other debts.

Whilst some companies already offer a price cap, we’re hoping to convince the whole market to do so, allowing you to save more.

We’re also working with MP’s and other government officials to make amendments to the Digital Economy Bill, so that all mobile phone service providers must offer a bill cap to customers.

 

If you’re worrying about mobile debt, please feel free to contact the local team at Citizens Advice Gateshead or click here for more information.