Mobile phone users should watch out for service fee traps when old contracts expire, Hong Kong’s Consumer Council warned Thursday following a slew of complaints from the public about unexpected bills.
The consumer watchdog said it received in the first half of this year a total of 2,162 complaints over service charges by telecommunications carriers, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported. The complaints mark a jump of more than 17 percent compared to the same period in 2013.
A common trap would be charging standard service fees that are way higher than contracted fees when a client does not actively renew or terminate the contract right after the old one runs out.
A telecom carrier was accused of not informing its clients about new charges after existing contracts ended. The clients were said to have been charged as much as HK$898 (US$115.86) extra fees for data usage.
Similar data charges were applied in another case, where the effective date for free data usage did not match with the start of new contracts, the report said. The carrier was accused of not being transparent as it buried the terms and conditions in fine print.
Certain cases may in fact be in violation of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, the Consumer Council said.
The agency has referred 43 cases to the Communications Authority. Of those, 29 cases were proven to be legitimate while five were found not having enough evidence to slap charges. The remaining nine are still under investigation.
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