Shrewder mobile bills with Shrooda?

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Airfonix integrates Dolby into new wireless transmitter is a fascinating new startup that offers a mobile price comparison engine. Here’s how it works. You enter your username and password for your mobile phone services online billing. Shrooda then takes your itemised bills and determines the best price plan available to you in the UK. The site uses product feeds from the major retailers of mobile phones and supports the UK’s four largest mobile networks so far.

Now, there are other sites that will do price comparison based on what information you tell it, such as, but none (that I know of) that actually use your real live billing data in this way. Unfortunately, to do this the site has to skirt some interesting issues. The only way possible to access this data is to scrape it, using the customers password. Co-founder Grieg Rapley says “convincing mobile networks of the benefits of OAuth is not straightforward. However, the solution we have developed is fully automated and easily updatable when changes are made (most recently O2).” That may not, of course, be enough re-assurance for people to hand over passwords to their accounts, to put it mildly.

But there are some interesting possibilities for this model, which are already being explored by sites like Mint. Namely, that putting up a profile of your usage means you can start to compare your mobile use habits against others. So, say I wanted to work what other mobile services people like me use – this would the the sort of site where I could start (assuming they add those features).

Shrooda says they say they have yet to find a user who is within £4 per month of their best plan, and their “worst” user could benefit in excess of £30 per month. I would have tried it myself but I have temporarily lost the log-in for my mobile provider!

  • Josh Russell

    your previous or current habits don’t represent what you’re ideal contract might be. you might want to use more data but your plans don’t allow it. so all this does is suggest a plan to match your current patterns, not what you might want to do if you could!

  • Scott Jones

    Sorry, but I wouldn’t want to give a start-up *that* much of my personal data

  • Ross Bailey

    Doesn’t support 3 so that’s me ruled out.

  • mobile_guru

    I tried but got no results !!!! Does this thing work at all?

  • Greig Rapley

    @mobile_guru: Sorry about that, we got a little TechCrunchUK’d ! All signups have now been processed and results will appear when you login. If you have any problems, please send us a message at and we’ll sort it out for you.

    @Ross Bailey: We’re working on supporting 3, would you be interested in joining our beta program? If so, drop us a message at

  • arturo

    a mi que me importa

  • Andrew Nesbitt

    What will this suggest if I have an iPhone?

  • Greig Rapley

    @Andrew Nesbitt: Currently SHROO:DA will recommend the best plan based on your usage from all the available plans, whether or not the plan can be combined with an iPhone. We’re working on a set of user preferences where you would be able to restrict the recommendations by phone, in your case the iPhone, network and possibly other factors.

    @Josh Russell: You’re right Josh, SHROO:DA will recommend cheaper price plans based on your current pattern of usage. When you say “plans don’t allow it”, are you talking about fair use policies on data and texts for example, or do you mean mobile users who avoid using their phones too much because of the cost of doing so?

  • foaf

    @Josh Russell: Companies have to use previous customer behaviour as a guide to future customer behaviour. Though you’re right that this may not be the customer’s ideal behaviour, there is limited sources for that information: namely the customers thoughts.

  • Rob Doherty

    Well this tells me I can save £23.02 by switching from my current £30pm contract to a £15pm contract. This is obviously working on my latest bill of £38.02 but the £8.02 charges are from roaming calls, which would still be present on the new contract, so I’d really only be saving £15.

    That’s not to mention the fact that my usage varies considerably from month to month so it would be much more useful if it analysed all my previous bills as well.

  • Greig Rapley

    @Rob Doherty: Thanks for the feedback. You’re right, SHROO:DA currently uses just your previous bill and all future bills. So while you remain a SHROO:DA user, your recommendations will become more accurate over time. If you would like your previous bills analysed as well, and taken into consideration in your recommendations, send us a message at and we’ll look into it for you.

  • Nick

    It doesn’t seem to deal with ad-ons/data either, which is a trifle annoying.

  • Rob

    I tried this out yesterday. At first, no results displayed, but I later tried later, whilst testing Chrome and the results did display.

    I thought I was on a good package (half price tariff for life), but Shrooda then displayed a 20% saving available. I’m very impressed.

    Good work guys. I’m sure you’ll be very successful.


  • ComeOn

    I’ve been waiting 30 minutes for it to do the calculation and email me, but nothing so far.

    I’ve appreciate they’re probably seeing a huge spike in traffic today, but if you can’t predict – and have a plan in place to cope with – this, what chance to do they have of early adopters having a good experience and returning to recommend this to their friends? A surge in traffic upon launch is something that every major web startup experiences…

  • Harm

    @ComeOn What made you think that this was a major startup? Besides there is scant way to predict how a site behaves when hit with a surge of traffic. They at least retain the data.

    @Greig Rapley From the looks of it SHROO:DA does not take into account add-ons. Are you planning to add this? All you do now is extract the number of minutes called an number of text messages sent. For only that the price of providing you with my login to my provider is a bit high.

  • ComeOn

    I’ve just been told that my T-mobile bill online does not support itemisation and so cannot be used with Shrooda.

    Odd, considering my online billing settings have never been touched and are the default settings that I expect the majority of other customers will have.

    So, doesn’t work for me.

    Shame, as I think it could be a great service.

  • Greig Rapley

    @Rob: Thanks !

    @ComeOn: We’re sorry you had to wait for your account activation to be emailed to you. Unfortunately, because we do not have complete control over the process of acquiring our users bills, delays can be experienced due to online billing sites downtime or maintenance. We trust you have now received your activation email, if not please contact us at and we’ll look into it for you.

    @Harm/@Nick: You’re right, SHROO:DA does not *yet* support account add-ons which as you probably know are so important to certain networks price plan structure, e.g. O2. We’re working to provide this feature as soon as possible.

    @Harm: It’s a little more complex than your summary. A single example would be for text messages which are charged for differently by each network depending on whether they are to a UK network, an international number, or sent while roaming. To illustrate this example, the price of a text to an international number varies by 8p per message between networks ! This is one of dozens of examples all of which contribute to the increased accuracy of the SHROO:DA calculation. However, for users like yourself, we do provide the simple “number of minutes, number of messages” calculation at

  • Darren Foreman

    This is pretty astonishing.

    There’s an awful lot of information (and actions) in the orange site that shrooda get access to if I give them my login and password. My phone number, that of everyone I’ve called or texted, my home address; the ability to change my plan, change my address, upgrade my phone… everything I can click on, shrooda’s code can “click” on, right?

    What next, give away your online banking details and we’ll examine your habits to find you a better current account? Honest, guv.

  • azeem

    Yeah…. doesn’t work but does have all my data.

  • Paul

    @Darren Foreman – Are you not aware of, wesabe? Sorry if I missed the sarcasm….

    I think Mint gives the option to submit details manually if you prefer doing the gathering work to giving a password. This may be an idea for shrooda to alleviate security concerns as well as give an easier way to see if the service works for the casual browser.

  • Darren Foreman

    Nope, had never heard of Craziness.

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