Have you ever had bill shock? It is caused by opening a bill, usually from a telecommunications company, and the symptoms include confusion, nausea, dizziness and shouting of profanity. This very serious condition is becoming widespread in households across Australia and numbers are on the increase.
The condition stems from the telecommunications industry and the use of data, both on computers and mobile phones, for which we pay by the megabyte (MB). Most of us sign up for a package deal including say, 1,000 MB a month for $40 and that seems fine. The clincher is the fine print however, wherein it says that should you happen to exceed that amount of data, you will be charged at an exorbitant rate, per byte.
You can be over your limit and still happily streaming data for weeks without realising, all the while amassing life-changing debts. Then the bill arrives and bill shock ensues. Ouch. Here’s how to avoid all that pain and it doesn’t even involve a needle.
Read Your Contract
I’ve said it before and somehow I feel I shall say it again: read the contract. From start to end. Before signing up to anything. Now, let’s just say you have already signed up and you didn’t read it before, you are not off the hook. Read it now. I’m serious, go do it… like, right now!
Now that you’ve read your contract, you’ll know exactly how much data you get for your regular fee and how much you’re going to pay if you exceed that limit. Without this knowledge, you’re really just playing a guessing game and you’re probably going to lose.
Don’t be Silly
Seems obvious, doesn’t it? Yet here we are. If you are on a limited data allowance, don’t fritter it away on silly things! When I first got my smart phone I was so enamoured by the fact that I could get the internet on my handset that I would lie in bed, checking the week ahead’s weather on my mobile rather than simple make the walk to the study and use my PC, on which the internet is virtually limitless! Fortunately, I did not have to learn the hard way but many people will. Don’t be one of them.
I know, I know, I just told you not to download stuff but this is the exception. Downloading the right apps is going to make all the difference, in fact these two apps are the best way to keep your data use under control.
Data Usage Monitor
A data usage monitor like 3G Watchdog (Android) is a brilliant addition to your phone. Simply enter the date your billing cycle commences and your data allowance, and a little symbol appears on your phone’s desktop, changing colour to warn you when you’re reaching your limit.
A programme-closing app is your next best friend. Apps like Advanced Task Killer enable you to close any programmes that might be running without your knowledge with the push of a button. And without programmes secretly running, chewing into your data allowance, you’re much less likely to suffer that dreaded disease, bill shock.