Pay a visit to any mobile phone store and the array of tariffs, contracts and offers is mind-boggling. Amidst all the confusion British consumers overestimate the number of minutes and texts they use each month and end up overpaying by an average of £195 a year.
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Academics at Oxford University analysed more than 28,000 phone bills - they found that nearly three-quarters of mobile phone users had chosen the wrong contract and could save themselves almost £200 a year by switching to a better deal.
Since the average bill is £439, that means many are paying 44 per cent more than they need to.
Professor Chris Holmes, who led the research, explained: "We found people consistently over-estimate how many minutes they need by a factor of about four. If people chose a cheaper tariff that still provided a sufficient buffer, significant savings could be made."
More than half of users were on a tariff that was "too large" for their needs, at an overall cost of £2.6bn, a further 29 per cent were forking out sizeable sums for services that were not included in their contract allowances (totalling £3.5bn) and those who had rightly estimated the number of minutes they required but did not seek out the best deals were found to be wasting £750m.
The research also found those who were happy to stick with their current handset could save themselves £250 a year by switching to a SIM-only contract.
However, with 8.5 million mobile phone contract combinations on offer, it is hardly surprising that so many Brits are left paying over the odds.
The research was commissioned by Billmonitor.com, a website which attempts to put users on the right track. Accredited by Ofcom, the site analyses your mobile phone bill, predicts future usage and suggests a more suitable and cost-effective contract - and that could save British consumers £5bn a year.
What do you think? Have you been caught out by confusing mobile phone contracts? Leave a comment below...