Beware of Mobile Bill Shock

"Mobile bill shock" refers to the shock customers experience when they receive unexpectedly high mobile bill charges. It is mostly caused by inadvertent or unintentional use of mobile data services. This phenomenon has become more common with the increasing popularity of mobile data services.  How can consumers avoid mobile bill shock? What measures has the telecommunications industry taken to tackle the problem? This article will give you some tips on how to prevent it.

Tips on Prevention of Mobile Bill Shock

  1. Ask your mobile operator to deactivate or cancel the mobile data service if you do not need it.  You may also disable the data service function of your mobile phone.  
  2. Switch off the automatic update functions for emails, RSS, Podcast and other software when necessary.
  3. Select a monthly mobile data plan which suits your usual pattern of data usage.
  4. Check your data usage from time to time through the following ways:
    • the operator's customer service hotline, website and short messaging service; or
    • the data usage counter of smart phones.
  5. For Internet access, avoid automatic connection of your mobile phone from Wi-Fi to mobile data through:
    • switching off the mobile data function whenever you do not need to use mobile data service;
    • if your handset possesses Wi-Fi Assist function, switching it off when you do not need it;
    • checking frequently to make sure that your mobile devices have not switched to data services while using Wi-Fi for accessing the Internet; and
    • checking your mobile data usage periodically to see whether there is any unusual increase of usage volume.
  6. Avoid unnecessary mobile data roaming charges. When travelling abroad, if data roaming service is needed,

    • check with your operator their roaming partners available in the destination and charging method before leaving Hong Kong;
    • consider purchasing a prepaid SIM card of the destination for Internet access;
    • consider using a flat-rate data roaming plan;
    • switch off automatic update functions of handsets.
  7. If data roaming service is not needed,
    • ask your operator to deactivate the mobile data service;
    • disable mobile data function of your handset;
    • use another handset without Internet access function.

For details, you can refer to the links below.

Other Mobile Data Service Options While Travelling AbroadBe mindful of unexpected mobile data service charges while roaming overseas

The Measures Adopted by Mobile Operators to Prevent Mobile Bill Shock

In view of the consumer issues related to mobile bill shock (mainly caused by unintentional or inadvertent use of mobile data services), the Office of the Communications Authority has urged all mobile operators to adopt various measures to address the problem. The preventive measures include:

  • allowing customers to opt-out of individual services;
  • setting a charge ceiling;
  • setting a usage cap for all kinds of usage-based services; and
  • alerting customers through SMS when they reach their usage threshold or when data roaming usage is triggered.

You can check out the full list of measures implemented by mobile operators from the link below:

Measures implemented by mobile operators to prevent mobile bill shock
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Last revision date: March 2021