Cell phone providers often lure customers with cheap contracts. But if you don’t look into the small print, you may find yourself confronted with unexpected additional costs after signing the contract. TECHNOLOGY BUTTON shows the tricks of the providers and how you can recognize them.
There are many things to consider when signing a cell phone contract. From tiered prices to hidden costs to seemingly exclusive offers – you shouldn’t be influenced by the tricks of the mobile phone providers.
1. Obscure and hidden costs
The individual components and costs of a mobile phone tariff are often difficult to see for customers at first glance. It is possible that the linked data sheet does not match the current tariff offer, is too general or, in turn, links to new documents that are difficult to read. In order to be able to compare the complete costs of a tariff offer correctly, one should therefore always start an order process and then click through to the summary of the costs before personal data have to be entered, explains the specialist magazine “c’t”. Because the providers would waste a lot of effort to disguise the actual prices. In the overall list of contract details, however, they must be transparent – customers can take advantage of this.
Caution is also advised with additional contracts, for example for anti-virus programs or streaming services. The providers often offer such packages for one month free of charge, after which a 24-month subscription runs that you can no longer get rid of. Therefore, always look at the first monthly invoice to see which additional services are noted there. If there is something there that you do not need and have not booked yourself, it is best to call the provider immediately and cancel the add-ons. But be careful here too. If someone asks you on the phone if you want to try something for free, it is also a subscription trap. Therefore it is best to always answer “no”.
2. Graduated prices for mobile phone tariffs
In the case of internet or mobile phone tariffs, there is often a second price that applies from the 7th, 13th or 25th month and then appears inconspicuously in small letters, according to the experts. This is an agreed price increase. On the website, however, the providers like to advertise their tariffs with the reduced prices.
Our tip: Check exactly how long a stated price is valid and allow for any increases after a few months.
Also read: Beware of public WiFi networks
3. Alleged discounts
Another trick from sales psychology: discounts for the entire duration of the contract. For example, instead of setting a monthly price of 19.99 euros, customers are offered 24.99 euros and a discount of 5 euros. This should then “feel particularly cheap” and take advantage of the tendency to strike at bargains.
4. Offers only “for a short time”
You shouldn’t let yourself be put under pressure by actions that supposedly only run for a short time. Usually, at the end of the alleged offer period, there is simply a new one – with the same or even better conditions.
5. Supposedly exclusive offers in shops and on the phone
Important: Anyone who signs their mobile phone contract in the shop, on the street or at the booth in the electronics store has no right of withdrawal. According to the experts, ordering online is always better. There you are not put under pressure by sellers and you can check all contract details in peace. The same applies to offers made to customers by telephone. In many cases they are similar or even identical to those advertised on the website. Exclusivity? Nothing! So take your time here too and take your time to check out the new offer.
Revocation if something is wrong
The following applies not only to a mobile phone contract concluded on the Internet, but also to a mobile phone contract: All documents sent and the order confirmation have to be checked very carefully. And you shouldn’t hesitate to revoke the contract if you still discover surprising clauses, agreements are missing or even unwanted parts of the contract are included. You have two weeks to withdraw your consent.
A novelty in the tariff jungle are mobile phone tariffs, where only payment services are offered as possible payment methods. What’s behind it? Payment via PayPal, for example, makes these tariffs nominally to term tariffs for which the legislature does not prescribe the expensive and time-consuming identification of the customer, as is the case with prepaid tariffs, explains the “c’t”. The customer is identified by the bank details stored with the payment service.