back to article Orange customer clobbered with SIX-FIGURE phone bill

EE's Orange arm managed to bill a customer £163,000 for a month's data use, thanks to a dodgy handset which was opening a data connection every 20 minutes. Alan Mazkouri had a business deal with mobile telco Orange. Last summer his phone began overheating and draining the battery, so much so that Mazkouri took the dodgy …

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Anonymous Coward

@ ecofeco Re: "SIM card... downloading movies"

Are you stupid? A SIM card is at best 128KB of data.

From where do you get the notion that it would be possible to store movies on it?

Maybe you should find out what a SIM is:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subscriber_identity_module

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Been a lot of years since I worked for them but the Orange billing system was always rubbish speaking to former colleagues who still do nothing has changed. In theory a bill this high would be flagged to security who would then bar the account. However data charges are not available in real time and depending where the customer was in their billing cycle it may not have been apparent even to Orange for some weeks that the bill was approaching these levels.

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"However data charges are not available in real time"

The pathetic thing is that appears to be true for Orange employees but not for customers. When I got massively overcharged for data (Like ten quid for a minute on Google maps, not bum-squeaking letters demanding thousands fortunately) and I phoned up Orange to complain, the poor call centre sod couldn't see the data charges yet even though I could view the charges ON ORANGE'S OWN WEBSITE at the same time.

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Why not a "maz"... honoring poor Mr Mazkouri

Starting with Busby's guess of Mr Mazkouri's bandwith usage (1,631,600MB) it could go like this :

1maz = 1,556TB or 1593.36GB or 1,631,600.0MB

1mmaz = 1,556GB or 1593,36MB

1µmaz = 1,556MB

1kmaz = 1,556PB

it is large enough to remain useable with current storage (sorry WraithCadmus).

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Silver badge

Units?

How about an "Orange", being the amount of information he actually downloaded.

So Mr. Mazkouri downloaded an orange of data.

To make things clearer, maybe define an "orange" as 1Tbyte, then he downloaded 1.6 oranges of data (units should be nice round numbers).

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

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Re: Units?

I'm pretty sure that 1TB of data is pretty much 1TB of data even by El Reg Unit standards. I think the general rule of an El Reg Unit is that the measurement has to be quirky rather than just giving a standard unit a new name... like length measured in EU Linguine, Double decker buses and Brontosaurus.

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Silver badge

Re: Units?

But the orange is Terry's! And since this is information we might term it a Terry's byte. So Mz Mazkouri downloaded one Terry's byte of data.

Sorry. So sorry. I vote for the mop as the official El Reg unit.

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Coat

Re: Units?

Forget the download plan, how about using "Orange" for a unit of Android phone shipments.

I want to be able to compare Apples to Oranges.

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Re: Units?

If your going for Android phones Samsung Galaxy are the best, Windows phones Nokia are great and Iphones well they have the power

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Happy

Proper El Reg unit of data

The mop, (as mentioned above) sounds reasonable for data. I have a suggestion for a generic unit of rage.

Obviously, the "Orange", would be used to describe your general experience dealing with your carrier. Here in Canada a friend has used the term "Bells" as a rage unit, as in "My anger just reached 5 BELLS!" as the phone is slammed after talking to a Bell Canada rep. So for UK carriers it could be an "Orange", although I'm not sure if 1 Orange == 1 Bell, (5 bells btw is pretty much frothing at the mouth).

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Flame

Re: Proper El Reg unit of data - Over-The-Pond conversions

So the North American "Bell" would be the equivalent of 1 UK "TalkTalk", then?

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Boffin

Re: Proper El Reg unit of data

Mmmm, but there already is a unit called the 'bel'... used to measure magnitude. You usually hear about it spoken of in terms of decibels (dB).

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Silver badge

Hours/minutes of iPlayer HD

I prefer to use iPlayer HD streaming as my measure of data usage. For example, "EE's cheapest tarriff offers 500MB of data per month, which would be used up in only 25 minutes of iPlayer HD streaming."

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Re: Hours/minutes of iPlayer HD

A typical 1 hour *SD* iPlayer programme is around 800mb - 1Gb so I'd expect a HD stream to use a fair bit more than that - are you sure 500mb is not more like 15 minutes of HD streaming?

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That could have been me....

Fortunately, I was paying attention. At £8 per MB, with no package available where I am at the moment, my S3 pissed away three megs of data overnight, with no benefit to me! I switched off mobile data after that. I never had this problem with the Blackberry or iPhone that came before it. Android seems particularly bad in spite of my best efforts to reduce data consumption.

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Re: That could have been me....

Avast (or other) firewall does the job for me.

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Re: That could have been me....

That would depend on the type of data we're talking about (I think). For example, looking at the data consumed, the way the S3 does Exchange Services, particularly is push is involved, seems quite inefficient. Using Onavo Extend, for example, I was able to turn megabytes into less megabytes (but still megabytes) and I suspect the corporate email was somehow bypassing this (Onavo reports zero savings for Exchange Services).

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Coat

Re: That could have been me....

The phone in this story was (by the looks) an S3, clearly loaded to the gunnels with dodgy Android malware.

Neither the BBC nor this article mentions that however since of course the first rule of Android Malware club is we don't talk about Android Malware club.

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Silver badge

Re: That could have been me....

+1

"Only update while on my nominated wifi, otherwise, just prompt for app updates" should be the default.

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Re: That could have been me....

Android Malware only arrives from downloading dodgy apps from *outside* the Google Play store (which means popping into settings and explicitly allowing apps to be installed from UNTRUSTED sources - and accepting the accompanying warning this generates) or being a knob and downloading apps that are clearly not what they claim to be - ie a brand new game that costs from the official developer but is somehow free from some developer with a foreign sounding name (or the name of the app often has foreign letters and symbols in the title). Both situations are no different to downloading stuff you shouldn't be downloading on a PC - or clicking that link in that email that is clearly a scam.

There are ratings for apps and reviews - that clearly tell you if the app is any good or if it's a scam - if idiots don't bother to read them then it's their own fault.

In this case the guy claims to be a technophobe - so it's likely to be something simple like one of the preloaded apps (probably the weather - it usually is) continuously asking for new data - or - it's a bit of a long shot - but he may of accidentally enabled the WiFi hotspot - possibly as an open hotspot instead of with encryption which any nearby Windows machine would of happily automatically connected to.

Clearly we need more information on symptoms.

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Pint

Re: That could have been me....

Simple solution to this - as I found out when I was in Jersey and Orange spammed me about ten times a day telling me I'd be paying 70p/Mb as I was roaming (despite the carrier being EE. Go figure.)

Turn off background sync. Stops all of your widgets from synchronising data (i.e. weather, stocks, train times) and also the social media feeds if you use 'em. You can still use your browser and email, it just stops all of the other stuff from eating through your allowance. Turn it on once a day to get the latest updates, then disable - I don't think I went over my 30Mb/day bundle once.

Roll on the days of truly unlimited mobile data.

Beer, as it's Friday at last.

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Stop

Re: That could have been me....

So the advice is don't download stuff outside Google Play or stuff inside Google Play which might be bad. And then people wonder why there's Android malware.

I think f-droid.org will still be my first port of call.

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Re: That could have been me....

Pretty much yes.

Any app that causes excessive battery drain will be rated with less than 3 stars. It will be full of reviewers complaining about the excessive battery drain and a large number of reviews will be written entirely in capital letters. The app will be on it's first version and will have never been updated.

If you download an app that wants access to send SMS for example and you can't think of a legitimate reason it would need that ability, DON'T DOWNLOAD IT.

I'm frankly quite amazed that the people who end up with computers and phones crawling with malware have managed to stay off the Darwin awards - it really is no different than telling someone - if you don't want to die - don't stick your head in the gas oven and turn it on. Common sense applies to all aspects of life.

As for Android Malware in general - please be aware that every single time that you hear about how bad Android Malware is - it's from a company that *just happens* to be offering an Android app to solve the problem. I have lot's of friends with Android phones and tablets - I haven't personally seen or witnessed any real Malware on any device yet - what I have however witnessed is people who download every app they can think of and then complain that their device is running like treacle - as 400 different apps attempt to run at once in the background.

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Re: That could have been me....

PS - thanks for the link to f-droid.org I didn't know about that one - looks interesting.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Andrew Jones 2

I think you mi's'sed out 'several apo'strope's in your previou's po'st's.

You may have also written "may of accidentally enabled".

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PMS

The "Prime Minister's Salary" is a popular economic unit in some circles. It's £142k at the moment, so the chap was charged 1.15 Prime Minister's Salaries, or 1.15 PMS (the abbreviation is a bonus).

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Black Helicopters

"More worrying is the idea that similar faults might be lurking in other handsets"

Uhh yeah, "faults" that's what they are. It's because "faults" are unintended things and it wouldn't be the result of a carrier installing beta software intended to bump the profit margin a bit. Yes, it was the handset that was "faulty".

umount /dev/tinfoilhat

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Paris Hilton

Suggestions for a proper El Reg unit of data appreciated in the comments

Paris Hilton tapes, natch?

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evs
Trollface

Might I advance the "Willie"?

Which, of course, is 47,859 bytes or the exact size of an industry standard picture of Willie Nelson (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Willie_Nelson_at_Farm_Aid_2009_-_Cropped.jpg).

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Anonymous Coward

I had something similar happen to me...

AOL Instant Messenger service on my dumb phone, sent out a text message every half hour to the second. Imagine my surprise when I went from 50 texts a month to 1500 (mind you, this was back when texting wasn't as popular and you were charged a ton for text messaging). AOL admitted that they had a bug in their software, but AT&T refused to acknowledge that their partner, AOL, could have buggy software. I had to get some of my big wig friends in the industry to pressure AT&T to drop the charges. Needless to say, I stopped using AIM on my phone at that point.

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AOD
Joke

4 Geesus

Is this what people mean when they say the 4G tariffs are seriously bad value for money?

Isn't the real story that he had enough signal coverage to download that much data? I wish my Vodafail 3G signal was that solid, although not to the tune of £163k.

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Coffee/keyboard

15,000 music tracks? wtf

I think some standards are required here - I suggest a 'Telegraph Road' Packet. It could be shortened to TRP because we always need more acronyms...

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Anonymous Coward

How about a Hackel? - the actual amount of data this represents is fluid and can change at a moment's notice as in the definition of a gigabyte or even a billion, caveat emptor, caveat bloody everything!

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FAIL

I had similar problems, they chased me for several months on a phone I'd returned during the cooling off period due to the failure of their store to process it properly. Their call Center was downright rude, and made up a bunch of lies!

In the end had to threaten to sue them before they resolved it. Six months later I'd discovered they'd put it back on my credit file! Had to complain again to get it off again!

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FAIL

Unmetered...

This is why unmetered services are so important, sure you may not normally use more than a few hundred megs in a month but with an unmetered connection you take away the risk of something like this happening.

Same goes with water meters, one leak while you're on holiday and you could be faced with a massive bill when you get home.

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Linux

Re: Unmetered...

One important point about unmetered mobile network services is, that the provider really starts to care about caps. As long as they are payed by package, no matter what, they don't really give a damn if you ruin yourself. As soon as they have to care about throttling down your connection, to make sure you don't use more "premium" speed, than you payed for, expect things to change very quickly.

As for water or gas bills - if you have one week water leakage in your home, the water bill is probably the least of your problems. Turning off water and gas before leaving your home is probably more efficient. Oh, and also unplug unneeded electrical appliances like your telly, the set-top box(es) and your IT equipment.

Penguin - they like flooded apartments.

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Re: Unmetered...

Data access does cost someone, somewhere down the line and unlimited, unmetered anything leads to wasteful use. The most resourceful part of the human mind is dedicated to finding ways of spending someone else's money. It's a no-go in the end.

They could easily have a metered service with a user definable limit but why bother when they can just charge for it. For every six figure bill sent out there must be hundreds of erroneous 3 figure bills that get paid by default on business contracts and tens of thousands of 2 figure bills foisted on an unsuspecting public.

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Jesus fuckchrist

There really should be a cap on how much you can be charged for data. Hetzner, the hosting company, will charge you something like £6 per terabyte if you go over the traffic allowance and want to keep the 100Mbit speeds. How in fuck can Orange even start to justify their costs per megabyte?

After they've charged you twenty quid or so, that should be it and it shouldn't matter if you have ADownloader running 24/7 torrenting Linux ISOs to all and sundry. There's only so much per month a phone can download for fuxache.

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Devil

Automated Cut-Out

More interesting, why the fraud department at orange spot this insane charge racking up and block it?

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Contract option

With the cost of limited and unlimited data allowance being £££ it may be worth going for an unlimited data package which would save this issue from showing up.

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these fees where the profit is

most have to pay up as these fees are part of the business model.

Some have them and some don't. Use Orange on contract at your own peril !

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Anonymous Coward

Elsewhere...

I think the BBC said it was about 52GB of data.

Scary thing is that on Three in my location (where I routinely get 10~15Mbps) it would technically be possible to run up that much usage in about 14 hours if something went havoc.

With excess data charges at 5p/MB or something, bills could rack up *very* fast.

Orange speed is so poor in my experience that it'd take a fortnight, 24/7 to download that much!

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Coat

kt, it's not just kilotonnes of TNT

Can I suggest the kiloteen, the data downloaded by one hundred bored teenagers using their mobiles to find something diverting enough to retain their attention.

Related: the megameme, the data of 1000 cat photos from Reddit.

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Slx

They should just stop your data connection if you exceed your bundle limits (15GB per month on my plan).

If they're going up offer ludicrously small caps, they should only be able to enforce them by suspending the data service. These huge bills are just gouging customers who often have no clue how much data they're using.

If you want to continue you should have to purchase another bundle of data or wait until next month.

The system is as transparent as mud!

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Anonymous Coward

O2 pay monthly - sim only

As I am looking at doing some continental travel from the UK using an O2 sim only package

Its going to cost £1.99 per day for 15MB (or 25MB, depending on which site you look at) when roaming on the mainland continent, warnings sent at 80% and 100% of usage and ability to book another 15MB by a single text.

Fairly clear and transparent.

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