A BT customer was horrified when he came home from a ten-day holiday abroad to discover he’d racked up a £2,682 bill.
Arron Coles, 32, thought his work phone was connected to the hotel wifi in Egypt but failed to notice it had switched over to data roaming.
The software worker’s account wasn’t frozen – and he simply received a text asking him to phone BT if he wanted to ensure he could keep using his phone, he claims.
But he was horrified when he got home to two bills – for £2,085 and £597 – after no cap was applied to his account.
Arron, from Taunton, Somerset, reckons BT should have limited his usage.
Arron, who enlisted the help of consumer website A Spokesman Said to fight the bill, said: “I had a really, really nice holiday with my partner and her family, but it has soured it to be honest.
“I’m willing to be honest and admit it was a mistake to just put my phone to one side – and not check the mobile data was on – but I feel like they have seen it as an opportunity to make money.
“I put the phone to one side and it must have disconnected from wifi. There must have been apps running in the background.”
“They did not any attempt to contact me or my work to tell them of the severity of the bill.
“I got one text – which I have since found out was sent when the bill was at £600 – asking me to get in touch to ensure my phone could still be used.
How to avoid shock phone bills when you’re going abroad
SINCE June this year, you can use your normal data in any EU without any extra charges. But this isn’t the case if you’re travelling outside of Europe
Turn off data roaming Your phone will not connect to the internet abroad unless you’re connected to wifi. You can do this under the Mobile Data settings on iPhones or Mobile Network Settings on Androids.
Turn off location services and push notifications These are the kind of settings that are constantly using data to retreive new information, even when the app is closed. Make sure they’re turned off when you’re abroad to avoid a big bill when you’re home.
But a SIM card abroad If you’re going away for a long time, it might be worth buying a local network SIM card to get cheaper access to the internet.
Free wifi Connecting to free wifi will mean you’re not being charged for using your data. But these services are not always safe and can leave you vulnerable to hackers.
Download before you go If it’s streaming movies or music you’re after then, be organised and download what you’ll need before you leave the UK.
“There was no suggestion or hint that the bill had become so large.
“Why didn’t they block it? Surely there is nobody who would want to come back to that kind of bill.”
Arron went on holiday with his partner Jana, 29, for a family wedding in her native Slovenia, before they travelled to Egypt, in August.
It used data when his phone automatically updated applications – and he checked emails and news sites.
When he got home HR staff questioned him about “extra charges” on this account after a bill for £2,085 arrived – and insisted he must reimburse the company in full.
Arron says that he’ll need to take out a loan or borrow money from friends and family to pay back the loan.
BT said the best they could do was wipe some of the charge, to a total cost of £1042, Arron claims.
Data roaming means connecting to the internet through a 3G or 4G mobile service that isn’t yours and outside the EU, there are no data roaming caps.
ROAM FREE? EU mobile roaming charges end on Friday – Brits could STILL be hit with unexpected charges
A spokesman for BT said: “The roaming charges that Mr Coles has been charged are from his time in Egypt between the 14th and 23rd of August.
“When Mr Coles arrived in Egypt we sent him a text message to make him aware of the £4 per MB charge.
“We sent this directly to his mobile and not to his company. On the same date however we also tried to call the company. As a goodwill gesture we’ve offered to reduce Mr Coles’ bill by 50 per cent.
“We’re always disappointed when we cannot come to an agreement with a customer, but we follow the Ofcom process carefully to ensure the customer can refer the matter to the Telecommunication Ombudsman and we always abide by their conclusions.”
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