Facebooking holiday snaps costs Mum £20k

Updated: 

Helen Christie

Helen Christie took a short break to Turkey with friends, and thought it would be a nice idea to put a few photos up on Facebook while she was there. It was only when she returned to find a phone bill of £20,000 that she realised what she'd done.

The roaming charges worked out at £2,700 a day. So how can you protect yourself from this sort of disaster?


Christie, a 40-year-old accounts manner from Woolwich in south London, told the Mirror: "I just thought it might be nice to put a few pictures on Facebook. I didn't have a clue what on earth had gone on."

Her mobile phone company, EE, insisted that the bill was correct, but after being contacted by the Mirror it agreed to cut the charges 95% to £875. Christie told the paper that she still couldn't afford to pay it, so would have to meet the phone company in court.

So how can you protect yourself?

Ironically, Christie told ITV that she thought she was protected. She had signed up to 'Travel Saver' bundles at £6 a day, which gave her some roaming at 10% of the standard charge. However, she went way over her allowance, and had not opted to cap the potential charges.

If you are travelling it's worth taking steps to protect yourself.

Within the EU, you have protections negotiated by the EC, which means you can't be charged more than 24p/min to make a call, 7p/min to receive a call, 8p to send a text and 46p/MB for data.

However, these are still very steep charges, so it pays to be aware of the cost when you make a call or use any data. By 2016, the EC will scrap roaming charges within the EU - but there are a few years to get through first.

It's also worth taking extra precautions if you are holidaying outside the EU - in places like Turkey.

In most instances it makes most sense to turn off data roaming, and take advantage of free wifi while you are out and about. This will protect you from data roaming surprises - and will stop your phone automatically running up charges by updating apps in the background.

Package

It may be worth signing up to a roaming package if you plan to use your phone for calls, texts or using data. However, you'll need to check the small print to see what you will be charged and what you'll be covered for.

Some packages include data, while others won't: some let you receive calls for free, and some will include calls within your monthly allowance, while others will provide a specific allowance each month. Make sure you know exactly what you are covered for, and take care not to exceed your limits.

If you are using data on your package, take care not to do anything which burns through data - like downloading video or music, or uploading photos onto social media. Also be careful about opening emails with large attachments.

Talk to your provider about voicemails. All the providers will charge you to listen to a message, but some will charge when messages are left too. If this is the case, you can ask for your voicemail to be disabled while you are away and ask friends and family to text instead.

It makes sense to call your phone company and agree a cap on charges too just in case something goes awry.

If you are planning to use your phone a great deal, even with a package you could face significant costs. In this instance you may be better off buying a SIM for the country you are visiting. This will mean using a different number, but the costs will be much lower. Check with your phone company whether you can put the overseas SIM into your phone or whether you will need to buy a cheap handset overseas too.

Turn off

There's always the possibility that we could turn the phone off altogether - and use the holiday to get away from it all - rather than just bringing it all with you.

Beware the small print

Beware the small print


More stories