Australians reluctant to question expensive bills

Peter Terlato 16 May 2017 NEWS

Australian bill shock unhappy couple

Just 4% of Aussies would call their provider and complain.

Have you ever received an electricity bill that seemed a little high? Perhaps you were sent an unusually costly phone bill? New research reveals many Australians are hesitant to confront their provider when faced with an "unexpectedly expensive bill".

An analysis carried out by finder.com.au found 42% of Australians were reluctant to contact their provider, whether it be an insurer, telco firm or energy company, and question the cost of a bill they received.

Around one fifth of respondents (21%) said they would "deal with it" by reducing their future spending and saving money to ensure that their next bill is less expensive.

One in ten (11%) indicated they would immediately jump online and compare costs with other providers.

Just a small number of Australians (4%) said they would call their provider to complain if they received an unexpectedly high bill, while fewer still (1%) would contact the ombudsman if they received a pricey bill.

Baby Boomers (72%) were the most likely generation to question their provider over an unusually high bill, followed by Generation Y (49%). However, Gen Y (14%) were twice as likely as Baby Boomers (7%) to go online and compare costs against other providers, seeking a new deal.

State-by-state, Western Australians (63%) and Tasmanians (63%) were likeliest to query their provider on an expensive bill. Those in New South Wales (19%) and Victoria (19%) were least likely to accept a high bill and work on reducing costs for the next installment.

A small proportion of respondents who have experienced bill shock (4%) said they felt helpless and "couldn't do anything about it", particularly those committed to lengthy contracts.

The introduction of the Telecommunications Consumer Protection (TCP) Code in 2012 has eased the likelihood of "unexpectedly high bills", otherwise known as bill shock. In 2013, 33% of customers had received a bigger-than-expected bill. In 2016, that figure dropped to just 19%.

As part of the 2017 Budget, the federal government plans to introduce a new one-stop-shop to provide bank, financial services and superannuation customers access to fair, external dispute resolution.

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