How To Challenge A Mobile Phone Bill

by - Last Updated on September 13, 2016

There’s nothing worse than getting your mobile bill and suddenly realising that it’s way more than you expected. Not to worry though, there are things that you can do to challenge the charges on your hefty payment, and it’s a relatively simple process that we can walk you through.

Step 1: Sit Down With the Bill

The first thing that you need to do is sit down with the bill and highlight all the charges that stick out to you. Now have a good long think. Are they really unfair? Things that you might want to consider are: whether you used your phone outside of the UK during that period (in which case these may be roaming charges, which are more expensive than regular charges), whether you called any premium rate numbers (did you spend an hour on hold waiting for someone to pick up?), whether someone else (friend or family) used your mobile, and finally whether your mobile has been lost or stolen (in which case the charges could be fraudulent).

Before you start this process you need to be sure that you’re not responsible for the charges on the bill, and it’s worth your time to go through the bill and highlight each charge that you want to dispute.

Step 2: Contact Your Operator

Okay, now you’re going to contact your operator’s customer service number and inform them that you wish to challenge your mobile bill. You’ll need to keep a clear record of everything, including the time and date you called and the names of the representatives that you spoke to. It’s a good first step to offer to pay the undisputed charges on your bill immediately, since this is a sign of good faith. If you do this your operator should not cut off your phone service for none payment (or fine you for late payment), and they should agree to place a hold on the disputed charges until the matter has been looked into.

After speaking to customer service (unless they wiped the charges immediately, which is unlikely), you should also make a copy of the bill with the highlighted disputed charges and send it to your operator. Include a brief explanation of why you think the charges are unfair. You may find that in a couple of weeks your problem is solved. If not, you’ll need to move on to the next step…

Step 3A: Consider Fraudulent Charges

If your phone has been stolen and you think the charges could be fraudulent (i.e. you were not the one using the phone) then there are a couple of things to consider. If you have mobile insurance, then check your insurance policy as it may cover these charges for you. You’ll probably find that you need a crime reference number in order to claim, so you will need to report your stolen phone to the police.

If you don’t have insurance then you legally you are responsible for the charges incurred. However, not all operators deal with this in the same way. It’s worth calling customer service and explaining the situation, and you may find that the charges are wiped or lowered, though again you might need the police report to prove that your phone was stolen.

Step 3B: Non-Stolen Phones

So, your phone wasn’t stolen, and your operator hasn’t resolved the problem. Now you need to send a formal letter of complaint to your operator. Include your mobile bill with the highlighted charges (yes, again), as well as a polite letter explaining the situation. Now you sit back and wait…

If the operator has still not resolved the matter in a month or so, you should call your provider and ask for a “letter of deadlock.” This is simply a letter that says that you and the operator cannot come to an agreement over the disputed charges. Wait until you get the letter, then move on to the next step…

Step 4: Alternative Dispute Resolution

You can now contact an independent body to try to resolve the matter for you. UK operators can be registered to one of two recognised resolution services: Ombudsman Services: Communications or the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS). Find out which of these services your operator is registered with (you can probably find the info on your bill, or on the operator’s website).

When contacting the appropriate service include notes about all your communications with your operator, and include a copy of your deadlock letter. If it has been more than eight weeks since you sent your formal letter of complaint and the operator has not resolved the problem you do not need a deadlock letter, simply include a copy of your formal letter of complaint.

This independent adjudicator has the final word. That means that you must abide by their decision. They may wipe some or all of the charges, but anything they do not wipe must be paid in full by you.

And there you have it. The process might be a little time consuming, but it’s perfectly possible to challenge your mobile bill if you think that it’s unfair. Don’t be put off by the length of the process though, in most cases operators are happy to work to resolve disputed claims, and cases rarely reach the stage of the independent adjudicator. We wish you the best of luck!