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Mobile users baffled by hidden costs
Mobile users baffled by hidden costs

Adding emotions such as smiley faces and other icons to text messages can double the average bill of most mobile users new research has shown.

A major factor in the price hike is unknown to most phone users: the bullet-point mark cuts text message size-limits from 160 to 70 letters.

This means texters including the bullet point may actually be sending two messages rather than one. And small picture icons - known as emojis or emoticons - have the same impact, Fairfax reports.

Melbourne resident Toby Passauer uncovered the issue after including a combination of punctuation marks to end his messages with a big-nosed smiley face, like this: =●)

He ascertained the bullet point was splitting one long text message into two 70-character messages.

"When comparing the bill to my phone, I noticed that [Telstra] were double charging for single texts," he said.

"I went through the whole bill and found it over and over again. I started noticing a pattern on the messages that were double billed - I had used the bullet point."

Neither Telstra, nor the iPhone maker would take responsibility, Mr Passauer said.

Investigations by Fairfax have found that global standards on short-message-service (SMS) are responsible for this confusion.

A Telstra spokesman said SMS character limits varied depending on encoding.

But consumers get no warning that some symbols will cut their texts in half, unless they keep a close eye on the character count.