Disturbing results have emerged from a recent canstar.com.au survey of young mobile phone users. According to the survey, 20 per cent of Australians aged between 20 and 39 have locked themselves into unaffordable phone contracts.

What’s worse is that many of them did so knowingly.

Many phone stores have a well-documented history of employing predatory sales pitches in an effort to part customers with the maximum amount of cash. But these ‘hard-sell’ tactics are finding a fertile environment when younger customers feel driven by peer pressure to buy the latest (and most expensive) technology.

“If you already have in your mind that you want to walk out of the store with the new Apple, Samsung or LG phone,” says Simon Downes, spokesman for canstar.com.au, “you are most vulnerable to being drawn into a contract that isn’t necessarily right for you.

“It’s a serious financial commitment. If you are signing up to a contract for two, even three years, it’s a big deal.

“You have to be prepared to walk into a phone store and able to say ‘no.’”

One of the most crucial mistakes prospective customers make is over-estimating what they need in their plans. Many people leave the store paying for data and calls they will never use.

The next greatest mistake is leaving without fully understanding the contact’s information. The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman has revealed that in the September quarter just over 200o Australians lodged complaints about the poor information provided by their contracts.

Coming in a close third were problems in direct opposition to the first problem. Rather than paying for services they weren’t using, this group downloaded in excess of their data limit and were routinely slugged with excessive data charges.

“The consumer has to have a good idea of how mch information they’re going to be downloading when they are not on wi-fi to make sure they can choose the right package,” Teresa Corbin Chief Executive Officer of the Australia Communications Consumer action network.

“Turn your data tracking on as soon as you buy the phone. You can find it in the settings in your smartphone.”

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