Smartphone-owners on pay monthly contracts being stitched up by mobile operators

Millions of British consumers are paying excessive amounts of cash for their smartphones, according to new research.

According to uSwitch.com, over 9 million UK customers are paying way over the odds for their monthly phone contracts, mainly due to inflated charges implemented by network providers and straight up laziness.

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In most cases, these contracts relate to high-end smartphones, which are often deemed too expensive to buy outright. However, consumers are continuing to pay astronomical amounts of money even when they have already "paid off" the cost of their device.

31 per cent of participants involved in the survey admitted not switching to a new deal, despite the fact that their monthly contracts were up for renewal. According to uSwitch.com, these customers are needlessly paying network providers almost £1 billion per year, seemingly oblivious to the fact that significant savings can be made simply by switching to a SIM-only deal.

It has also emerged that UK customers waste £885 million per year on out-of-tariff data charges. 56 per cent of British mobile owners even admitted to using less than half of their minutes every month.

The average person has switched mobile deals four times, mainly because they wanted a new handset, while a third of people are still using the same network that they did when they first got a mobile. Of these, 18 per cent said that switching to another network was too much hassle.

"Of those who sign up to pay-monthly mobile contracts, 71 per cent of us opt for deals that come with 'free' handsets, rather than forking out for a phone upfront," said uSwitch.com's Ernest Doku. "But as the saying goes, there's no such thing as a free lunch - and these phones are not free either.

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"Instead, the cost is simply absorbed into your monthly bill. That means, once your contract has ended, you are effectively continuing to pay for a phone you've already paid off in full. A quick fix is to switch to a SIM-only deal as soon as possible or – if you want a shiny new smartphone – consider switching to a new pay-monthly deal."

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