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Study: Brits spend more on tech than utilities

September 4, 2020

The average UK adult will spend nearly £1 million (€1.12m) in bills over their lifetime – and now spends more on tech, such as TV subscriptions, mobile phone contracts and music streaming services, than they do on utilities, according to a study conducted by multiplay telco O2 to celebrate the anniversary of its flexible custom plans tariff.

The survey of 2,000 people found that the average consumer will personally spend £926,720 across a period of 63 years on gas, electricity, water, their phone and other bills.

Whilst these costs are often essential, consumers are now spending more on tech-related bills, notching up an average £1,555 a year on these expenses, compared to their spend on utilities at £1,491 per year.

Although they are outlaying a significant amount on monthly bills, seven in 10 (70 per cent) won’t compare prices on the services and contracts they pay with other providers, even if it means they can save money. This is despite those surveyed estimating that they pay £170 a year more than they should, simply because they aren’t looking for a plan that suits their needs better.

Mobile phone contracts are one of many areas where budget-savvy consumers can look to save money. However, the research showed that nearly a quarter (24 per cent) have never changed provider to see if they can get better value for money, and a fifth (20 per cent) aren’t even sure what’s included in their mobile phone plan despite spending on average more than £200 a year on it. A recent Which? report further highlighted the issue by revealing that customers are potentially overpaying by more than £400 a year as their operator continues to charge them the full price of their contract even when they have paid off the cost of their phone.

Despite the opportunity to save money by switching to a more tailored and flexible plan, one in four (26 per cent) say they simply can’t be bothered to shop around and a fifth (20 per cent) claim they don’t have the time to look for better deals.

“Our research shows just how much unnecessary expense we outlay over the course of our lives,” advises Nina Bibby, Chief Marketing Officer at O2. “Taking the time to shop around for more flexible deals that suit your individual needs, so that you’re only paying for what you use, can save a huge sum of money in the long run.”

“Time poor consumers struggle to prioritise the admin of switching things up which is why it is vital businesses do more to provide greater transparency over contracts, and that customers aren’t being penalised for loyalty. As the UK’s No1 network we’re relentlessly focused on customer fairness. Our industry leading custom plans give users complete control and flexibility over how and when they pay for their device. From choosing how much they pay upfront to how they want to spread the remaining cost of their device, customers can create a flexible and individual plan to suit their budgets.”

Despite not switching, many admit that they’re not getting their money’s worth as 35 per cent believe they currently pay for things on their bills that they don’t actually make the most of or use, such as paying for a landline on their broadband package or for TV channels they never watch.

It seems the biggest barrier to switching services is that it is perceived as a complicated process. The research, conducted via OnePoll, found nearly half would be happy to switch service providers if the changeover was an easy process, while nearly one in five (19 per cent) would do so if they knew they were getting a product or a plan which was bespoke to their needs.

For those who would consider changing their smartphone plan to get a service better suited to their usage, nearly a third (31 per cent) would want more data, and more than a quarter would want flexible data usage that works around them.


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