Avoiding ‘bill shock’

Receiving an invoice for a large amount of money is never fun for anyone – and why would it be?

One of my own personal tragedies has been to try to explain a large phone bill to my seriously ticked off partner; avoiding eye contact as he demanded an explanation as to why I felt the need to constantly upload every interaction I encounter in life to Facebook. Or why I had to call and text my mates overseas when I could just shoot them an e-mail. Or maybe even why I’d watch YouTube videos at a coffee shop when there was a perfectly working Wi-Fi connection available – If only I’d ask for it!

$300 and 15 hours of overtime later, I think it’s safe to say I learnt my lesson.

Australians are starting to feel the sting of excess usage charges, which – in my case – can greatly surpass the actual advertised monthly cap. A recent study by Macquarie University suggests that the switch to smartphones may be one of the drivers behind such high excess charges.

A couple of years ago, we only had to worry about watching our talk and text spend. Now, with technology advancement and the introduction of apps in smartphones such as the iPhone or the Samsung Galaxy, we have to take a little more into consideration.

When you think about it, it’s really no wonder that we are spending more and more time on our phones. Yes, the standard functions of your phone are still there – you call your loved ones to say “Hi”, you send an SMS to let someone know you’re going to be late coming home. Added to that, we now carry the internet in our pockets, sharing our experiences with family and friends that could be half way across the world with a quick email or picture message.

We live in an incredibly privileged era if you think about it! But with all these added extras on our phone come extra costs.

What can I do to reduce these charges?

Most smartphones pull data from the internet and deliver your phone, popping up and letting you know that someone has commented on that cute picture of your dog on Instagram or that you’ve received another one of those annoying chain-letter emails from your aunt.

Ignoring standard talk and text, these “push” notifications (as great as they are) are probably one of the most incriminating aspects of your smartphone along with software updates. It’s important to familiarize yourself with your phone, be aware of what you do and what your phone is capable of.

You have the power to limit the amount of traffic that passes to and from your phone. Have a look at some of the points below to see if any of them apply.

  • Limit your activity over 3G
  • Use Wi-Fi if it’s available
  • Refer to your phone’s manual or run a search on assistance in turning off “push notifications”
  • Delete inactive or unused applications that you suspect of having the ability to upload or download
  • Turn off the “roaming” option where you can
  • Ask your provider for more information on how you can limit excess expenses.

iiNet have your best interests at heart and have a numerous range of resources employed to ensure that we keep you in the loop with regards to your usage. If you have a mobile service with us, be sure to expect notifications when you have hit your usage limit at 50%, 85% and 100% – we can even set your unbilled limit so that as soon as you go over your cap, we can suspend activity to prevent further costs from racking up.

Your phone, whilst being a tool of empowerment, can also be a total nightmare – and an expensive one at that. It took a pretty terrible experience for me to understand the need to get to know my phone better and acknowledge any consequences of owning nifty pieces of technology. With smartphones the way they are, it is too easy to hop on and indulge – and that’s because it is easy. Exercising a bit of restraint goes a very, very long way.

Photo credit


  1. I have just finished my first year with Iinet. I would like to say how great it’s been & what a wonderful help your staff has been to me. I am a senior so not as big a user of all my gadgets as someone half my age but your staff has always expressed patience explaining techno things to me & when possible offering to ‘fix’ things remotely thus saving me a brain drain trying to sort it out. I feel I have developed some wonderful young friends with Iinet support staff. Thank you Iinet.

  2. Allan Calvert says:

    I am unable to understand why non business persons require to be able to access internet, TWITter and Facebook on their mobile phone. The screen is so small and, I prefer a destop and 32 inch screen for accessing the internet on intermittent occasions. My mobile whilst internet capable is set to ONLY access phone calls and SMS on a prepaid plan which prevents any ‘bill shock’ My home phone is VoIP and calls @ .10c untimed costs me approx $5.00 per month. Old and Wise