Billed £91k from chat lines: are you at risk?


phone box

Kevin Waldrum (45) has hit the headlines, after running up an incredible £91,184 phone bill - calling adult chat lines after his girlfriend of two years left him.

So how could he spend so much, and are there any risks for you?


There are some ways in which Waldrum's situation is pretty rare. According to the Daily Mail, he spent an unusual amount of time on these telephone chat lines after seeing them advertised on daytime TV.

He says he had no idea they were costing him so much, but he must have known he was getting into trouble when he had a bill for £19,333.63 and had his SIM barred. At that point instead of cutting his use of the chat lines he got a new SIM and carried on.

According to The Metro, Vodafone has cut the bill to £29,083. It says that by the time the calls had registered on its system the bill was £29,083 - and that it could have warned him at that point about the costs of his calls - so as a gesture of goodwill it will cap the cost of calls there.

Waldrum, from Gladstone Avenue in Loughborough, told the Mail he still refused to pay - claiming that he ought to have been cut off instead.

The risks

Clearly this is an extreme example. However, it goes to show how much trouble you can get into when phoning premium rate numbers. These aren't just adult chat lines and rip-off competitions, but all sorts of services - including the helpline from the taxman.

If you're not sure if something is charged at premium rate, then you should start by checking either on the Phonepayplus website (which regulates these sites), or by texting the number to 76787 and PayphonePlus will text you back with details on the costs.

If the number charges a premium rate, look into whether there's an alternative approach to secure the same service. Think very carefully about how long the call may take, and how much value you will get from it.

If you really do need to call the service, as a general rule of thumb it is far more expensive to call a premium rate number from a mobile than a landline, so ideally you should never call them from your mobile. If you have no alternative, the only way to get a true understanding of the cost is to call your provider, and ask them their per-minute cost for this specific number before you start.

You should also keep a close eye on how long you are on the phone. If you feel you are being made to wait around, don't hesitate to hang up.

If you feel you have been ripped off, you can get information on making a complaint from the PhonepayPlus website.

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