Telecoms > Stories

Holiday nightmare as BT charges man £2685 for data roaming  

Nic McBride

Nic McBride
Oct 3, 2017


A family holiday turned into a nightmare for a man who came home to a whopping £2685 mobile bill. 

Arron Coles, of Taunton, Somerset, (pictured, with his partner) had been overseas for ten days – unaware his mobile had data roaming switched on. 

The result was a mind-blowing bill of £2682. 

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Arron was shocked to learn his company phone had disconnected from wifi and began racking up a huge bill. 

"I put the phone to one side and it must have disconnected from wifi. There must have been apps running in the background." 

Arron acknowledges it was a lapse on his part, but is now being punished for a simple mistake. 

"I'm so frustrated with myself, but I feel like they have seen it as an opportunity [to make money]." 

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Family holiday turns sour 

Arron had been in Slovakia, Egypt and Poland on a holiday with his partner and her family. 

Arron, who works as a sales manager, had no idea how he could have possibly spent £2682 on data alone. 

The charge will force him to take out a bank loan, or plead to his friends and family for help. 

"I can't afford that." 

BT sent Arron a text message on 16 August, two days into his holiday, to say he was exceeding his data usage – only after he had spent £600. 

However, they made no attempt to cut the data off - or get in touch again - as the bill continued to climb more and more each day. 

 

No explanation 

Arron said he received a text when he arrived in Egypt saying he would be charged £4 per megabyte. 

But that did not explain how he accumulated such a massive bill. 

"I have no breakdown of how this then escalates to an enormous sum of £2682.99." 

He only realised what had happened when he returned to England. 

Arron said he was not doing anything out of the ordinary with his phone. 

He checked travel insurance when his partner injured her foot, read and sent emails and occasionally checked the news – nothing unreasonable.

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BT offers to cut bill to £1042 

Arron went to BT to explain what had happened. 

BT responded that the best they could do was wipe some of the charge, to a total cost of £1042. 

They described that as "a fair offer" in a letter. 

When Arron suggested he might take his complaint to the Ombudsman, BT said they would withdraw the offer. 

"I'm very scared of going down that route," Arron told A Spokesman Said. 

BT also incorrectly told Arron his company had been made aware of the charges – but it did not know either. 

Arron pleaded with BT, but the communications giant has refused to budge on its offer of £1042. 

BT has been contacted for further comment. 

 

The perils of data roaming 

Data roaming means connecting to the internet through a 3G or 4G mobile service that isn’t yours. 

Check out our guide: Using your phone abroad - everything you need to know 

If you have data roaming enabled on your phone it will connect to the first network it can. 

Outside the EU, there are no data roaming caps and companies can do what they like. Data charges can go as £8 per megabyte or more. 

The best way to avoid getting caught out is to check your contract or search your supplier’s website in advance.

You should be able to figure out what they’ll want to charge you and prepare accordingly. Some suppliers will offer lower-cost packages on a flat rate or daily deal basis, and they’re always worth investigating.