Beware of additional fees: These cost traps lurk in mobile communications

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Make free calls, text messages and surf for a fixed monthly fee. This is what cell phone providers promise with contracts and prepaid packages. Users often get along well with it. Nevertheless: Beware of hidden extra costs!

Make phone calls, send text messages and surf the net at a fixed price without any worries? Sounds like a good offer at first, and in most cases it is. But anyone who thinks they are completely safe from extra costs can be wrong. Sometimes the bill holds surprises at the end of the month. "Teltarif.de" shows an overview of some cost traps.

Comfort or nuisance?

Connection fee: Many providers charge a connection fee at the start of the contract. This is often up to 30 euros. This is to absorb the effort that the provider has with the new customer. After all, there are always promotions in which providers waive these fees.

Data automatic: It is advertised as a convenience, but annoys many consumers. Instead of the known throttling until the end of the month, there is new volume after reaching the data limit – for a fee, of course. "That is regulated in the contract," explains Miriam Rusch-Rodosthenous from the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer center. Providers inform about a booking, usually by SMS. Then you should object if you don't want the extra volume. The way in which this works depends on the provider. "Sometimes it works straight away with a text message, sometimes via customer service by email or by phone call."

Tariff adjustment: Sometimes providers automatically adapt tariffs to the behavior of their users. An example: If you have used up your monthly data volume three times in a row, you will automatically be booked into the next higher tariff. "Provided this is regulated in the contract, it is permissible," explains Prof. Niko Härting, lawyer and member of the information law committee of the German Lawyers' Association (DAV). All that remains is the objection from the provider combined with the request to be reset to the old tariff level.

Bills: Many a provider wants to see money for the bill by post. "That is not permitted," says Rusch-Rodosthenous, referring to a judgment of the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) from 2014. Only providers who offer their products exclusively on the Internet are excluded from this decision. Anyone who is supposed to pay for a paper invoice objects and refers to the BGH judgment (Az .: III ZR 32/14), advises the consumer advocate.

Call prices: Many contracts and prepaid offers offer a certain number of free minutes. When these are used up, the provider's standard prices apply. "With discounters in the prepaid area it is often 9 to 15 cents per minute, for contracts 19 to 29 cents per minute," says Hansen. A closer look at the price list is enough to find out the price per minute after the free minutes have been used up. Other cost items are also listed there. "For example, whether and how much it costs to use the mailbox."

Roaming doesn't have to be expensive

Anyone who often calls abroad must also study the price list before concluding a contract or buying a prepaid card and see where their destination countries are sorted. While the call prices to other EU countries for some offers are between 9 cents to the fixed network and 29 cents to the mobile network, it can be surprisingly expensive with other providers and in the rest of the world.

In contrast to roaming within the EU, call prices abroad are generally not regulated, says Hansen. "Some providers take advantage of that." Prices per minute of up to two euros are not uncommon. According to Hansen, if you already have a fixed-term contract, it may be worthwhile to get a second SIM card for international calls. In addition, more and more mobile phone providers are offering special international tariffs that make it cheaper to keep in touch outside of Germany.

. (tagsToTranslate) Technology (t) Roaming charges (t) Smartphones (t) Cell phones (t) Cellular tariffs (t) Cellular