Bill Haggling

Reporter: Bryan Seymour

Kym Ford received a Telstra bill for $91372. This bill supposedly all racked up with SMS text message on a mobile phone last month. A silly mistake, easy to fixed but that is not what happened.

"Being the mother of two children and on my own it is a big shock to the system. You ring one department and they transfer you to another and then they say no they are not taking responsibility and they try to transfer you to somewhere else and in the end result after being transferred to so many different departments you are then hung up on "said Kym

The next bill included a late payment penalties, now Kym Ford owed the Telco Giant $91,412. As she scrambled to protect her credit rating, a present from Telstra arrived at her door,

"I received an iphone that I never ordered and a bill for that. I have received a number of bills for over four to six thousand dollars that they can't justify why they charged me that amount and they have had to re-credit it" said Kym

Following this Today Tonight interview, Telstra went from overcharge to overdrive - now blaming some kid of mystery fraudulent activity and promising to fix it all up.

"After twelve months of having it all wrong. Can they get it right? No I don't think so not at the moment... I don't have faith in them." said Kym

But you can make it right. Often it's as easy as contacting your phone, power or insurance provider and threatening to switch"

Ben Frued from GoSwitch said, "You can knock off ten percent off your energy bill just like that."

You can save 10 to 25% - by making a phone call or going online according to Ben Freund, the chief of go switch. He says half of all households are paying far too much on utility bills.

"In Victoria consumers can save up to five hundred dollars a year. In NSW it's more like $200, same thing in Queensland and South Australia." Says Ben

"Overcharging is something that people really need to be vigilant for. You do need to check every single bill." Says Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson from the Melbourne's consumer action law centre wants us all make our charge... On the Telcos and power giants that have cranked up charges more in the last two years than in the last decade.

"We do notice that there is a move towards giving less information on bills providing summary bills and that makes it that little bit harder for people to double check if they are being charged correctly." Says Sarah

"I keep a pretty good record of what I am paying and all of a sudden I get bills saying I owed them six hundred dollars." Says Tracie Campbell

Electricity and gas giant AGL got a shock when they tried to overcharge Victorian mum of two Tracie Campbell. Big mistake.

"If I was a fifty sixty seventy year old lady who got a bill and thought I am paying them every fortnight and she got a bill of that amount she probably would of paid it. that doesn't seem fair." Says Tracie

It isn't. Tracie went took it to the ombudsman. Agl was forced to pay Tracie back every cent.

"Nowadays loyalty is all about value for money and people are looking harder and harder. It's much easier to look for value for money through the internet and mediums like that." Says Paul

Customer service expert Paul Van Veenendaal says simply calling your power, phone or insurance provider and saying give me a better deal or i'm leaving can save 10 or even 15% on charges and premiums.

"People are getting calls every day of the week from someone whose got a better price for the exact same product." Says Paul

"Last month I received a bill from energy Australia it was around about eight thousand six hundred dollars and our normal quarterly bill is about four thousand dollars." Says James Stewart

Sydney small business owner James Stewart thought he was in a bad movie. Despite a meter sitting in plain sight, energy Australia decided to guestimate his power usage... Deciding on double the charge.

"I suppose if I just handed to a normal accountant they would of just paid it. And I think that is exactly what energy Australia's want business to do." Says James

The lesson is - overcharging is rife. Check every bill. Then take action.

"So the first thing you need to do is raise it with your company if you are not happy with the response that you get you can take it to consumer affairs or to the ombudsman for your particular area." Says Sarah