Mobile bill for £1,118 for five minute film download


jetting on holiday

Stacey Withers, a 25-year-old dental nurse, was only trying to cheer up her poorly three-year old. Joel had developed an ear infection on the flight to Turkey and in an effort to make him happy, she downloaded a film.

She knew it wouldn't be cheap, but she was astonished when the £1,118 bill arrived.

Bill shock

The family, from Tipton in the West Midlands, told the Daily Mail they were on a week-long break to Turkey - a break that cost £100 less than her mobile phone bill. Joel had developed an ear infection, and to cheer him up, she decided to download the film Madagascar.

She told The Sun that she had turned data roaming on for five minutes, during which time she downloaded less than a fifth of the film. She became concerned about the potential cost, so she turned data roaming back off and waited until she had a wifi connection before downloading the rest.

She knew her mistake would cost her, but she had no idea quite how much. When she received the bill she said it had wrecked her holiday. However, the Daily Mail said that Orange stood by the charges. It said that she had been warned about the charges on her arrival in Turkey, that data roaming is automatically capped for the month at £51, but that Withers had opted out of the cap.

Protect yourself

She is far from the first to fall into this trap. Just last month we reported on a woman from Woolwich, who had spent £20,000 uploading photographs to Facebook when she was on holiday in Turkey. She had signed up for a 'travel saver' bundle, but had gone way over her allowance. In the end the provider agreed to cut the bill, but still left her owing £875 because of her mistake.

It underlines again just how important it is to understand the roaming charges before you travel. In the EU the costs are capped at 24p/min to make a call, 7p/min to receive a call, 8p to send a text and 46p/MB for data. However, these costs are still pretty steep, so you need to think carefully before you use your phone.

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

You can set up a tariff you are happy with (both the cost and the allowances), and take care not to do anything which burns through data - including downloading films or uploading photographs. You should call your phone company too and agree a cap in case you have miscalculated.

You should also seriously consider turning off data roaming for the duration of the trip and taking advantage of local wifi.