Surging numbers of people are struggling to pay for 'must-have' smartphone deals, a debt advice charity has warned, after seeing the number of cries for help with phones generally more than treble over a five-year period.
Joanna Elson, chief executive of the MAT, said: "Smartphones have in many ways revolutionised our lives, but we've certainly been made to pay for the privilege.
"A family of four with two parents and two teenagers could quite easily be paying around £140 a month for all four to have a smartphone - more than the average UK energy bill.
"For 42% of smartphone owners, the phone is their sole internet access point, so they are quite reliant on keeping it running."
Ms Elson said that when people take out a contract for a smartphone, they are "in effect taking out a loan to pay for the handset".
She continued: "When people fall foul of that monthly fee, they can find themselves with a growing debt problem. The figures suggest this is happening more often in line with more people taking out expensive smartphone contracts."
Ms Elson said there should be responsibility "on both sides" and people should only take on contracts after carefully considering whether they can afford them, while mobile phone companies should treat consumers in financial difficulty with understanding.
She said people can seek free advice on budgeting and prioritising their debts through the charity's online tool www.mymoneysteps.org.
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