£2,600 bill for downloading Neil Diamond album

The dowload victim

Katie Bryan, a 43-year-old maths teacher from Lighthorne in Warwickshire, was shocked when she was hit with a £2,609.31 bill from Orange - after she downloaded 'The Best of Neil Diamond' while on holiday in South Africa.

It's a lot to pay for a Neil Diamond album, but she's not the first to fall foul of a downloading disaster.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
Bryan told The Telegraph that she wasn't even much of a Neil Diamond fan - and she had a similar greatest hits album at home. However, while at lunch with friends, she decided she wanted to listen to a track, so downloaded the album without thinking.

The album took 20 minutes to download, and used 326 MB of data. It burned through her 10MB monthly overseas allowance, and the rest was charged at £8 per MB.

After she got the bill, the Daily Mail reported that she rang to complain and the company arranged a £400 backdated bundle. There was some confusion at the firm, which meant this offer was rescinded, then reinstated, and they apologised for the stress caused.

She told the Telegraph: "It is morally wrong to be expected to pay this sort of money for a Neil Diamond album."

Bill shock

There have been a number of shocked customers in the headlines who have had their own doanloading disasters. Last September Helen Christie faced a surprise on her return from Turkey. She decided to put a few snaps up on Facebook while she was away, and returned to a bill of £20,000 - putting her roaming charges at £2,700 a day. Her phone provider agreed to cut the charges to £875.

In October, Stacey Withers, a 25-year-old dental nurse from Tipton, received a bill for £1,118 after a holiday in Turkey. She had downloaded a film for five minutes for her young son to watch while he was in bed with an ear infection.

A couple of years earlier, Carly Woodgate, a 30-year-old mental health support worker from South West London, regularly checked Facebook and Twitter while she holidayed in New York and was hit by a £750 bill when she returned.

In the same year 13-year-old Niamh Curran from Giffnock in Glasgow racked up a £16,000 phone bill on a family holiday to Turkey by checking social media. The company reduced the charges to £1,500 as a goodwill gesture.


These incidents are less common now that data roaming charges have been capped within the EU. Nowadays mobile phone companies are not allowed to charge more than 24.5 pence for phone calls, 8.1p for text messages or 46p per MB for data. In July the caps on charges will fall even further, and last month the EU voted for all roaming charges to be scrapped on the continent by December 2015. In the interim it's worth checking for bundles, which can be pretty generous.

However, outside the EU, charges are not capped and can be astronomical - although they vary between providers. Three, for example charges 10p per MB in the US and Australia, and £3 in South Africa. O2 charges £6 per MB in all destinations outside the EU, Vodafone charges £3 and Orange is £8.

Before you travel, therefore, it's essential to check all the costs of the destination you are travelling to - for call, texts and data. In many cases it's worth turning data roaming off, and only downloading data when you are connected to local Wifi.
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