back to article Holidaymaker gets £31k data roaming bill

Another jet-setting TV addict has fallen foul of unreasonable roaming fees, this time to the tune of £31,500, just to get their TV fix - just as the EU considers how best to curtail the operators' roaming rates. The chap concerned was on holiday in Portugal when he decided to forgo the local sights and download an episode of the …

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@Alexis

"A figure so high goes beyond fair and unreasonable and starts to become a punative penalty charge, which is unenforceable in contract law."

Punitive penalty charges are related to breaches of contract - i.e. you can't say "you will give me your pencil, or if you fail to do so, you will owe me £38,000". There is a long-standing principle that courts won't apply any sort of 'value' test to contracts. The only validity check they'll do on payments is to query whether the contract seeks to exchange the sort of thing that contracts may concern.

If it was otherwise then the courts would effectively act to prevent people getting bargains, and some very specialist forms of contract such as futures and forwards might become unenforceable.

Concerning the actual article, this man is clearly an idiot since if he'd applied any intelligence whatsoever then he should have been able to deduce the probability of high costs given the knowledge he must have acquired through his profession.

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@anonymous coward

"If this sort of thing keeps happening ultimately the charges would then be passed on to us!"

As the charges they tried to collect are clearly based on fictional costs -- it's hard to see how their non-payment would be passed on to us.

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Anonymous Coward

"validity check ... on payments"

"The only validity check they'll do on payments is to query whether the contract seeks to exchange the sort of thing that contracts may concern."

Maybe you haven't noticed, but for the last year or two the UK High Street banks have been refunding excessive penalty charges for overdrawn accounts, simply because the banks were scared that the courts would tell them to stop excessive/penal charges if a test case went to court and set the wrong (for the banks) precedent.

The banks finally plucked up the courage to take a test case to court, and the verdict on whether the charges were penal (and thus unenforceable under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations) is due Real Soon Now.

£31K sounds unenforceable too, regardless of whether the bloke's a prat.

Incidentally, if text message can be delivered within minutes between cooperating networks, why does it (allegedly) take days weeks or months for billing info to be forwarded when you're roaming?

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The worst thing is

Vodafone will NOT put a limit on your GPRS charges. Having received a bill that had £70 of data on it myself, I called them and asked them to put a limit of £100 on it, as it was complete accident that my bill had rocketed to £150 when it was normally around £70-80.

They preceeded to tell me they were not able to do this as data often takes a while to appear on the bill. I said well thats fine, but the minute you see it go anywhere near £100 I want a phone call. Again they just said they couldn't put a bar on it.

I remember when I first got a phone call my bill went over £100 and I got a phone call. It is for there own protection...its the reason you get credit limits on credit cards, you want to make sure the user can actually pay the bill.

Clearly these roaming data charges are just so lucrative for them they remove the option to put a limit on it....

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Roaming Bill Data (Yawn!)

"Incidentally, if text message can be delivered within minutes between cooperating networks, why does it (allegedly) take days weeks or months for billing info to be forwarded when you're roaming?"

Depends on the terms of the contract between the network in the UK and the foreign network. Roaming billing data is usually batch processed, if the foreign network have a contract that says they'll send billing data to the UK once a fortnight, then by the time they get the data to the UK network for them to analyse it for suspicious usage the damage is usually done.

Very little realtime billing data is exchanged by mobile network operators when your roaming, it's the reason mobile fraud prevention systems don't tend to pick up on suspicious usage or excessive usage whilst your abroad, it's also the reason most networks tend to include a term in your contract about late billing as mentioned earlier.

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come on!

how many stories in the media is it going to take before we can throw away the "I didnt know" defense? Noones ever specifically told me I'm not allowed to kill folk... Would love to see that fly in court.

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@Mark Browell

Yeah, hows about corporate responsibility? They could easily do like the credit card companies do and put a block on when your spending looks out of character, or not enable this facility until they have spoken to the customer over the phone to make damn sure they know the costs involved.

Service providers marketing material deliberately gives you the impression you can live the free and easy digital life, downloading videos on the beach all day etc so they must hold some of the responsibility when people actually try to do this. It may seem silly to us here but we're technical people and until the difference between Bytes, Megabytes and Gigabytes is on the national curriculum then service providers should make sure they labour the point that 3G, and roaming 3G in particular, is very very expensive.

Roger Heathcote

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@Chris

2c/MB? Amateurs. 3 charges 10p/MB if you exceed your allowance. That's why I'm with T-Mobile ... they may slow you down, or write you a rude email, but you never pay more than your standard monthly rate.

In the UK that is. I wouldn't even think about using it abroad.

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