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BT customer stunned to get £2,682 mobile phone bill after Egyptian holiday

Mark Dorman
Arron Coles, with partner Jana, arrived back from holiday to a £2,600 bill (SWNS.com)
Arron Coles, with partner Jana, arrived back from holiday to a £2,600 bill (SWNS.com)

BT customer Arron Coles racked up £2,682 bill while on an Egyptian holiday after failing to notice his mobile phone had switched to data roaming.

Arron thought his work phone was connected to the hotel wifi during his 10-day stay.

But even as the bill climbed, he says he only received a text asking him to contact BT to ensure he wanted to keep using his phone.

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“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,” said the software engineer.

“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.”

The 32-year-old added: “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.

“There was no suggestion or hint that the bill had become so large. Why didn’t they block it?”

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Arron, from Taunton, Somerset, claims when he threatened to involve the Financial Ombudsman, the company said it could revoke an offer to reduce the bill to £1,042.

BT insists it did make efforts to contact Arron Coles about the roaming charges (Jason Alden/Getty Images)
BT insists it did make efforts to contact Arron Coles about the roaming charges (Jason Alden/Getty Images)

He was on holiday with his partner Jana, 29, for a family wedding in her native Slovenia, before they travelled to Egypt, in August.

He connected to the hotel wifi, but when his internet session apparently expired, he believes his phone disconnected and reverted to using mobile data.

It gobbled up data as it automatically updated applications – and he checked emails and news sites.

When he got home, HR staff questioned him about “extra charges” on the account and insisted he must reimburse the company in full.

Arron said he would have to take out a loan or borrow money from friends and family to pay it.

“I can’t afford that,” he said. “It’s a fairly new job as well and it’s a work phone, which makes it even worse.”

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A spokesman for BT said a text message had been sent to the phone to remind Arron of the £4 per MB roaming charge.

“On the same date, however, we also tried to call the company,” said the spokesman. “As a goodwill gesture we’ve offered to reduce Mr Coles’ bill by 50%.

“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.”