A STEPFATHER was "shocked" by a £9,000 phone bill that his teenager ran up looking at Facebook while on holiday with her mum on the sunny island of Antigua.
Stepfather David Mason funds the teenager's phone, and according to mobile operator Orange he chose not to put any roaming limits on it. This, as we frequently learn, was a mistake.
The Daily Mail reported that Mason contacted his daughter after she quickly racked up £50 in charges and told her to knock it off. Facebook updates continued, apparently, but Mason assumed that she was connecting via WiFi.
She was not, reported the newspaper, and was using a local mobile provider. This was an even bigger mistake.
The local provider passed on charges to Orange, which issued a bill that was sent to Mason. The size of the bill "shocked" him, presumably because it costs more than the holiday, and here The INQUIRER notes that it has no idea how much a holiday in Antigua costs.
After the return of the ladies of the family, the girl and her mother Tracey, Mr Mason got one bill for £5,400 on his doormat, and another one for £3,500 a few weeks later.
"I was shocked when the first bill for £5,400 arrived. The phone contract was in my name but I was in England at the time and got a message saying roaming charges had hit £50," he said.
"Orange asked if I wanted to opt out of roaming charges. I said 'yes' and told Tracey but the phone was still connected to the Jamaica roaming network without them knowing. She had no idea she was racking up this massive bill."
The holiday happened this spring. Mason has paid the first chunk of the bill, but stopped short of handing over the latter £3500. The Daily Mail said that he claims that Orange "failed in its duty of care".
We asked the service provider for its response and it told us that while it offers information and options about roaming charges, it will in this case waive some of his charges.
"We know our customers want to use their phones while they're on holiday and that's why we offer a wide range of bundles. In this instance, Mr Mason chose to not purchase a bundle and actively opted out of the £50 roaming cap that is automatically applied to prevent high bills," said an Orange spokesperson.
"As a gesture of goodwill, we have retrospectively applied the appropriate bundles to reflect his data usage."
The INQUIRER would like to remind people to consider roaming charges and social networking before they go on holiday. Not asking crocodiles to work as swimming pool lifeguards is also recommended. µ
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