There are a set of standard rules that apply when you are billed for your mobile, home phone or broadband service, whether you are a prepay or a bill pay customer. ComReg has taken measures to ensure that consumer rights in respect of billing are in place and guaranteed into the future.
In this section, we explore these rights and give advice on billing and disputed charges.
We also look at the unexpected costs that can sometimes appear on your bill and the reasons why this can happen.
Service providers have long since moved away from sending paper bills in the post. Electronic billing, or e-billing, provides a way to view your bill online through the service provider’s website or by downloading the service provider’s App. E-billing can also include a bill being provided to you by email.
The service provider website or App (online portals) may also provide more convenient ways to make a payment, allow you to update your account information, monitor usage in real-time and control or limit spending.
If you normally receive an online bill, the service provider must let you know when it is available to view by sending you an alert such as a SMS text message.
These alerts, especially if being sent by SMS, should be sent during appropriate or sociable hours. If you don’t want to receive these alerts, you should have the option to opt-out. Bill alerts must also be sent separately to any direct marketing messages.
Yes, there are some circumstances that might allow you to receive a paper bill.
For example, if you do not have broadband access or cannot use an online service, your service provider must issue you with a paper bill. They must also do this free of charge.
Service providers may provide you with an alternative billing medium (to paper) if they can verify that you can access and use the alternative.
Here are some of the rules that you should be aware of:
These are the minimum protections to make sure that you are able to access your bills and ensure that you don’t have to pay for a bill that you can’t access.
Your first bill may be higher than other bills as you may be paying for more than one month of usage. This is because your first bill covers the period from when your service begins up to the date of your first bill. This bill will also include the agreed price plan for the month ahead. Remember, you are paying for your service a month in advance.
As an example, if your service started on 24th of November, and your first bill issues on the 1st of December, your bill will include an additional 7 days charges. These are known as part-period charges.
You should expect to pay the agreed monthly cost from your second bill onwards, excluding any usage costs outside of your plan or package allowances.
There may be an occasion when you receive a bill from two service providers around the same time. This can happen if you’ve recently switched your service to a new provider.
You should examine both bills closely to ensure that you are not being charged in duplicate for the same period. Referring to the dates included on both bills should help clarify this for you.
A cancellation fee, also known as an early termination fee, may be included on your bill. If you are still within the minimum term of your contract with the current provider when you switch, you may be billed the package fee (or a portion thereof) for the remainder of the contract period.
Information relating to the fees that a service provider will charge if you switch to a new service provider while still in contract will be outlined in the terms and conditions of your contract. Please see our Contracts page for more information.
Similarly, if you change any aspect of your service in the middle of a billing period, you may notice a part-period credit on your subsequent bill in respect of the amount that you’ve already paid in advance.
Many of us bundle our telecoms services where possible, meaning that we receive one bill for all services that can include a mix of home phone, mobile phone, broadband and TV.
Generally speaking, bundles provide us with a good price for all services but sometimes they can be subject to caps or limits on calls, texts and data. If you use more calls, texts or data than your bundle allowance, you will be charged for this usage.
You should ensure that you know how to monitor or keep a check on your usage and always ask your service provider to alert you when you are approaching or have reached the limit of your bundle. Some but not all service providers voluntarily send alerts to warn you, so please be sure to check if this applies to you and avoid any unexpected incidents of bill shock.
If you receive your bill and you believe that it’s incorrect, you should raise this immediately with your service provider as a complaint. You can learn more about how to make a complaint here.
ComReg Compare is a tool that allows you to compare tariffs and to find the telecoms service or bundle best suited to your usage needs in terms of value for money. It helps you to make better informed choices when deciding to switch to a new service provider or stay with the same one.
You can refer to Annex 1 Decision Instrument of the ComReg document Consumer Bills and Billing Mediums if you require more detailed information.