THE BLOG
17/10/2013 11:18 BST | Updated 16/12/2013 05:12 GMT

No One Has a Clue What They Pay for Mobile and Broadband

If you pay your monthly bills by direct debit, chances are you'll be guilty of rarely (to never!) checking how much leaves your account each month. You just pay it.

And that means you probably haven't the foggiest whether you're paying for what you actually use. Hands up if your mobile contract has ended, but you haven't bothered to find a new deal? Then you're probably still paying a monthly bill that includes the cost of that 'free' mobile phone handset you've already paid off.

And own up if you've never switched to a new broadband deal? Then you won't be able to take advantage of introductory offers like three months free - because loyalty is rarely rewarded.

You get my drift, and such is life that we all have far more important things to think about than cheaper bills. But what if I told you that switching deals when your contract ends could save you £260 a year? In real terms, that's enough to buy an iPad mini, or an HD TV.

That's why uSwitch.com is on Ofcom's case. We want it to follow Ofgem, the energy regulator, and force all telecoms providers to issue customers with annual statements by post. And the purpose? Giving people a heads up about when their contracts end - almost a third of us don't have a clue - as well as predictions of what they'd pay the following year if they didn't switch, and recommendations of the best deal for them based on individual usage.

If you got told you were paying for 1,000 mobile phone minutes per month, but you only used 60 of them, or that you were never getting close to your maximum download limit for home broadband, you'd find a cheaper deal, right?

Similarly, if you got a statement telling you that every month for the past 12, you'd been charged through the nose for going over your mobile data limit or downloading too many films on your home broadband then, naturally, you'd want to find a more generous deal.

Keeping on top of bills is a slog for everyone these days, especially those of us who've opted out of paper copies. An annual statement would ensure that everyone gets a paper bill at least once a year - which for many would be the only time they check their accounts.

What is clear is that, with broadband now the fourth essential, the communications sector must learn from the energy market and introduce annual statements that are fit-for-purpose as soon as possible. Informed customers are likely to feel more confident that they're getting the best deal and more engaged with the market - which could help them make real savings on their bills.