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Being on the wrong phone contract costs us £5 billion

Is your phone contract good value? New figures reveal we waste an eye-watering £5 billion a year by being on the wrong deal.

Is your phone contract good value? Chances are it's not, unfortunately, as new figures reveal we waste an eye-watering £5 billion a year by being on the wrong deal.

That sounds like an improbably large number, but new figures from tariff comparison site Billmonitor and phone-flogger Carphone Warehouse suggest that each mobile user overpays an average of £194 each year.

More than a fifth of phone users regularly go over their set limits, racking up extra charges on top of their monthly bill. Data is a particular problem, with £173 million forked out for going over data limits -- an issue over which operators have been slammed by phone watchdogs.

That's not to mention the poor souls paying for minutes, text and data they never end up using. What's worse, those unused minutes and texts are spilling directly into the atmosphere, contaminating the water table and making penguins fall over.

It's good to have choice, but the most interesting number that's emerged from this report for me is that we have over seven million deals to choose from. No wonder we're all on the wrong contract with that confusing range!

Billmonitor and Carphone Warehouse obviously have their own agendas to promote by highlighting these figures: Billmonitor would like you to use its service to check up on your current tariff, because that's how it makes money, and Carphone Warehouse wants to sell you a new phone and contract.

But value for money, 'billshock', and nebulous or unrealistic data limits are all real issues. Fortunately, unlimited data is apparently making a comeback, with Three all-you-can-eat, O2 On & On, T-Mobile Full Monty and GiffGaff deals all offering unlimited browsing.

Do you think your phone should lock up when you hit your data ceiling, or do you prefer paying the extra when you do need that extra bit of Internet use, perhaps in an emergency? Are you getting good value from your mobile phone, or are your minutes and megabytes going unused each month? Do you regularly go over, and if so, what's the biggest drain on your data? Tell me your tale of the tariff in the comments or on our Facebook page.