Lismore disability pensioner Peter Vafiadis has been stung by high mobile phone bills since he signed a new contract in January.
Lismore disability pensioner Peter Vafiadis has been stung by high mobile phone bills since he signed a new contract in January.

Phone plan hits pensioner

WHEN Lismore disability pensioner Peter Vafiadis signed up for a $19 per month capped phone plan in January, he thought he’d found one to fit his limited budget.

Despite barely using the phone in that period, four months later his bill is out of control and getting worse.

“In late January I was talked into a $19 per month contract which they said gave me $50 credit each month, a telephone and a netbook,” he said.

Mr Vafiadis, who works part-time, said he never received the netbook, the phone is faulty and, despite several promises to fix the problem, he has been receiving monthly bills as high as $65.

Rosie Mitchell, a Byron Bay university student, tries to keep her monthly phone to about $100.

Last month, out of the blue, she received a data bill for $300 even though she uses the internet lightly and usually with free WiFi.

“When I rang to complain they tried to sign me up to a data package,” she said.

“It is very confusing when the staff don’t understand it either, not to mention the language barrier with the call centres.”

But help may be at hand. Financial Redress, the company behind the biggest class action in Australian history (against the major banks for overcharging), is taking on the telcos and already claims to have recovered thousands of dollars for clients – the highest being a $7000 refund to a business client.

Managing director James Middleweek said most “capped” and “included value” plans were shams using grossly inflated call prices and should be contested.

Meanwhile, the Australian Communications and Media Authority has a “ruthless set of proposals” on the table to clean up the industry.



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