Page last updated at 23:01 GMT, Wednesday, 21 October 2009 00:01 UK

Phone tariffs 'too bewildering'

Mobile phone in pocket
There are more than one million mobile phone deals on the market

Consumers have no idea whether they are getting a good mobile phone deal because so many tariffs are available, a watchdog has said.

A poll by Consumer Focus found that UK customers ended up "bewildered" by the 1.3 million packages available for calls, texts and other phone functions.

Many ended up overspending or had to pay "hidden costs", the group said.

It urged people to negotiate a better deal with their mobile operator when the contract was renewed.

Price confusion

Patchy information and an overwhelming range of tariffs meant that many customers could not choose the best match to meet their needs. In a poll of 2,013 people, two-thirds said that there were too many tariffs available.

Charges for accessing voicemail messages and to receive an itemised paper bill were also a concern, according to Audrey Gallacher, of Consumer Focus.

"It is no wonder consumers are bewildered. As a result people often end up signing up for an unsuitable package and overspending," she said.

The watchdog said it had raised the issues of complex tariffs, poor price transparency, quality of service, and gaps in network coverage with the telecoms regulator Ofcom.

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