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6 tips to avoid cellphone 'bill shock'

By Sowetan LIVE | 2014-04-15 11:15:39.0 | COMMENTS [ 13 ]

It’s no secret that browsing the net can get you into all sorts of trouble. One link leads to another and before you know it you’ve used up all your data and probably been to places you shouldn’t have been.

It can also leave you with “bill shock” – a term relating to the reaction on receiving an invoice full of unexpected charges from your service provider.

Roaming overseas had, in the past, contributed to a number of horror stories of travellers who were caught unaware, including Highveld Stereo's radio jock Darren Simpson.

He recently revealed that he had received a bill for R27 000 after a few days in Los Angeles. A caller into his show was expected to cough up R1 million after three days in Mozambique.

In most cases, the service providers – who are arguably not that forthcoming in warning you about the costs of not turning your roaming off – do not take responsibility for these costs. 

And now, new technology could increase this problem.

Increasing LTE coverage across the country, offering lightning-fast data speeds, puts our data bundles under serious threat, says Martin Walshaw, a senior engineer at IT company, F5 Networks. 

LTE [also referred to as 4G – fourth generation – technology] is a “wireless, broadband technology designed to support roaming internet access via cellphones and handheld devices,” explains Bradley Mitchell, a computer whizz and technical writer at About.com

“In the past, slow connection speeds helped to curtail the overuse of data, but with LTE, it’s possible to rack up massive data use pretty quickly,” Walshaw continues.

He advises taking the following steps to curb data usage on LTE devices:

  • Download an app to monitor usage

Apps are available that monitor data usage hourly and let you know when you reach certain pre-set limits. Try Onavo Count for iOS or Android, 3G Watchdog for Android, or DataMan Pro for iOS. And stick to your limits.

  • Buy a data bundle

Data is cheaper if you purchase an add-on to your contract that’s dedicated to data use. Speak to your service provider about your average data usage to decide on the bundle that’s right for you. Keep an eye on your bill and purchase a bundle for a larger data amount if you frequently exceed your original purchase.

  • Sign up for alerts from your service provider

You can request that your service provider sends you an SMS alert when you’ve exceeded a certain data limit. This lets you know when you’re “over the limit”, but it’s up to you to quit driving on the information superhighway after that. 

  • Ask for a 'bill-shock' preventer

Your service provider may be able to lock your phone after a warning sms that your usage is getting too high.

  • Use Wi-Fi whenever you can

If the airport, coffee shop, hotel or friend you’re visiting has a WiFi connection, ask for the password and connect to it. You’ll save a fortune in incidental data costs by not using the cellular network when possible.

  • Be extra careful if you’re roaming

Visit your service provider to find out its data roaming costs. Many people elect to switch off their data capabilities while travelling outside of the country because the costs are just too high.  Buy a local sim card when you reach your destination or make sure you use a combination of the other points mentioned here to monitor and control your usage.

Sources: compnetworking.about.com; tariffic.com


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i always use eyama tax payers(office) that makes 90% of my calls then ebusuku i use mine,,,so fair ne!!!

2014-04-15 11:56:17.0 | 0 replies


once ran up a bill of R2200 by then i was earning a paltry R5000 per month. to low income earners never get a cellphone contract, self control is very difficult daso especially when u have many sidekicks

2014-04-15 12:03:13.0 | 0 replies


Avoid making phone calls when you at News Café or at Madlamini's place. Imagine you waking up in the morning and thinking what was the reason for me calling my Manager or ex at 2 am. Never tell your friends and chicks that you have a contract phone else they will make it a public phone.

2014-04-15 12:13:13.0 | 0 replies


Too much porn sites courses this problem

2014-04-15 12:15:07.0 | 1 replies


Spot on bra...I also receive huge bills every month because of porno

2014-04-15 13:46:04.0 | 0 replies


Wow,so you guys watch pornography and are not ashamed of that

2014-04-15 14:20:01.0 | 1 replies


Robin even church ministers, married couples the list goes on they watch porn we know that is wrong but we still watch it.

2014-04-16 06:35:58.0 | 0 replies


just realised that data usage from contracts is much expensive than prepaid......i took my contract sim and put it in my R100 nokia fone and new prepaid sim card in my s4.....problem solved

2014-04-15 14:23:49.0 | 0 replies


RobinX, dont u watch porn??

2014-04-15 14:26:32.0 | 0 replies


@Robinx Porn is like billtong, it doesnot mean u r hungry or have no fresh meat, just looking for a different taste, I was shocked when they introduce some porn evidence in Oscar's trial, it is irrelevent

2014-04-15 14:35:29.0 | 1 replies


Doesn't watching porn turn you on,if so what is the remedy for that; I guess you wank

2014-04-15 14:54:49.0 | 0 replies


Porn is very nice come we watch together robin

2014-04-15 15:42:51.0 | 0 replies


thank u sowetan. needed an application for my iPad

2014-04-16 08:55:09.0 | 0 replies