back to article Student racks up £8000 mobile broadband bill

Orange has hit a student with a bill for almost eight grand for using a 3G dongle in France for a month. The salutary story of William Harrison, 22, now in his third year a Nottingham University, was told in this weekend's Observer newspaper. Last summer, Harrison signed up for Orange dongle so he would have internet access …


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    Deserves a massive bill for being such an incredible idiot.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If Orange charge £3/MB while roaming, that means the user here used about 2.7 GB of data. How can you use up that much data WHILE ROAMING and not expect to have to pay for it?

    Did he not realize that the 3GB cap only applies to domestic use?

    Oh puhleeeze, come on! In this day and age people should be more savvy than that when operators are notorious for dishing out rope for people to hang themselves with.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "If Orange charge £3/MB while roaming, that means the user here used about 2.7 GB of data. How can you use up that much data WHILE ROAMING "

      Quite easy if you're using Windows - it constantly accesses your hard disc and network connection doing lord (and MS perhaps) only knows what.

      1. TS

        No, it isn't.

        "Quite easy if you're using Windows - it constantly accesses your hard disc and network connection doing lord (and MS perhaps) only knows what."

        No, many of us do know exactly what Windows is doing. And no, Windows is not going to download nearly 3GB in a month. JAN critical patches were about 25MB, FEB was half that.

        Unless you install SP3 for both XP and Office, install ALL the Adobe Acrobat updates, update all the other random programs, THEN you might get close to 2GB. So if the guy just purchased and XP SP2 machine and it set to auto update everything, then yeah, it could hit 2GB.

        But Windows is certainly NOT downloading 2.7GB on its own, nowhere close.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    What a dick.

    Oh? He's a student?


    Paris....because you know you're going to give your dongle a good workout when you visit Paris.

  4. Graeme 5


    "By July, this limit must be capped at €50 (£44) per month."

    offer them £44 as a fair settlement and invite them to sue if they don't like it!

  5. Ossian


    In all fairness not everyone is techno-savy. In addition these rates are horrendous! I travel to France and Germany a couple of times a month from Scotland and the mobile data charges are prohibitively expensive. If the EU is to be a single economic area then phones and mobile data devices ought to be usable across borders without crazy charges. It should cost at MOST three times the domestic rate for roaming data, moreover bundled allowances should be consumed at an accelerated rate before charging begins.

  6. zxcvbnm

    Completly unreasonable

    To have a product charged at £15 a month that results in an £8000 bill should be illegal under the "reasonable terms" part of the sale of goods act.

    Orange is a french company so his "roaming" was probably on their french network which cost them the same if not less than if he was using it in the uk. So they are basically getting £4000 free. They really must be laughing all the way to the bank.

    1. Alex 0.1

      stupid customer

      What's unreasonable about it, the £15 base rate on the contract is exactly that, it's a base rate. If you dont bother to read the actual charges you acrrue while using the service your (effectively) line rental provides, who's problem is that but your own?

      There's no difference here to paying BT £11.50 a month for line rental then spending several hours a day every day hooked up to a £1 a minute 090 premium rate phone line. How would that be BT's fault? Book a taxi, for a, what, £2.50 callout charge or so, then have him drive you to the other side of the country and be suprised when you get hit for a several hundred pound bill? Take out a £10/month sky subscription then spend 24x7 glued to the pay-per-view porn channels and be suprised at a whopping bill on your card?

      These are all exactly the same situations here, just because you pay a small amount for the base access to a service does not mean the end result bill is or should be small, if you use it abnormally and don't bother reading the clearly published costs involved.

      No sympathy whatsoever.

      1. chips

        Employee 123

        You must work for Orange.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        stupid analogies

        The analogies above are poor. The one about the Sky and pay-per-spank would be appropriate if he had used his dongle to go on the net and spend like a Labour government in election mode. Paying £15 a month for reasonable net access that you expect to be able to use wherever if you haven't been explicitly told otherwise (because the stupid shop assistant didn't know what they were talking about or hasn't explained the T's and C's explained to you properly) isn't really his fault.

        I have sympathy with the chap, Orange and others believe they can get away with charging what they like for roaming abroad (even in the EU), when he was most likely on Orange France's network and lining the parent company's pockets further. £3/MB in this day and age is beyond belief! I'd like to see them justify what possible costs could justify charging so much.

  7. rcdicky

    Think people slagging him off are being a bit harsh

    It wouldn't suprise me if they didn't explain the charges of using it oversees.

    Yes, he should have checked but I'd say Orange are more in the wrong for not explaining it.

    £8K is mental, and as someone above says it'll have been used on Oranges network. Should they even class that as roaming?

    I'd have thought the reason things cost more abroad is because the home network has to pay the Roaming network to use their network, but when both companies are owned by the same people...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Same thing happenned to my boss

      The MD took it upon himself to go out and buy 3G cards for 8 people at the office. The reason being that they were all going away on a 3 week business trip to Hong Kong, and the same trip last year ran up a bill of £3.3K in hotel internet costs. The salesman at the Vodafone shop assured him that his £15 per card per month had a 3Gig limit and he wouldn't have a problem using it abroad.

      It took me a week to convice the MD he was wrong (because the salesman had assured him that he could and MD's have a habit of believing salesmen more than internal IT depts), then took another week to persuade the chap at the Vodafone shop to confirm with head office that we would be charged silly fees and not just the £15 per month per card.

      After about 3 weeks total head office confirmed that we'd be charged roaming fees that would be greater than what we paid last year for hotel access.

      So the student has my fullest sympathies. He will have been sold this to do exactly what he did, and then charged extra because the salesmen at the shop have no knowledge of their own terms and conditions.

  8. Monkey

    I'm with the 'idiot' comments

    Whilst I agree the guy has been fleeced due to the fact that he was most likely on Orange France, I don't have any sympathy for him.

    He realised what he'd done, asked his dongle to be blocked but then continued to use it adding another £1500 to his bill...

    Ignorance isn't an excuse, not in this case.

    1. Dave 3

      Oh no he didn't

      The article says that the £1,500 was, "the charge for using the dongle between the first bill's cut-off point and when Harrison actually received the bill."

  9. Mojo2904

    serves him right

    I agree with the first few posts, you can't use that amount of data abroad and think you are going to be paying a few quid for it, regardless of how tech-savy you are, surely most people know that roaming charges can be much higher than normal.

    But at the same time I also agree roaming costs in general are ridiculous and need to be brought in to some sort of realistic pricing scale.

  10. T.F. The Magnificent, Flying Trapeze Gumby Brothers and Furniture Removals.


    "In all fairness not everyone is techno-savy."

    But surely literate enough to read small print?

    Customer FAIL.

  11. chips

    RIP OFF 123

    Quite right, give Orange nothing, they have done this before with a few other people, Go to the county court, dispute every penny

  12. bluesxman

    0 sympathy

    Should have taken 5 minutes to read and understand his tariff. He also made the fatal mistake of assuming that a shop assistant would be even remotely qualified to render advice on the subject. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

  13. Taemar

    No sympathy.

    He bought the dongle, he should've read the terms that came with it. It's not difficult to look at the network's website and look up roaming charges. Or call them. However, if he had bought it from an Orange shop and told them specifically he was going to use it in France, then they should've told him how much it would cost.

    That said, I suspect there's a bit of intentional ignorance going on on his part and a bit of jobsworth-ing going on on Orange's part - but countered by their offer.

  14. Andrew James


    In terms of the students' agreement with Orange, the kid is an idiot for not realising that you dont get all you can eat at a Parisian restaurant just because you have a discount card for Pizza Hut in the UK.

    But... I would have thought that Orange would have systems in place to recognise crazy usage like this. A courtesy call would have been reasonable when the bill reached something like £1000.

    "Excuse me sir, i'm calling from Orange to let you know that your roaming data bill has now reached in excess of £1000 for this month - would you like me to put a stop on your account".

    How hard is that?

    If i am out with my credit card in a foreign place, or even a town i dont normally visit, and am spending without much thought for when i will pay for it all, my credit card company will contact me and double check that 1. it is me that is doing the spending and 2. i am able to confirm that the last few transactions took place.

    Why cant the telcos do the same sort of thing? Yeah sure it will eat into their profits a little bit but if they are nice to their customers they're more likely to get a bit of loyalty arent they.

  15. Anonymous Coward


    Walk into Argos.

    3G dongle with 15Gb loaded. Pay-as-you-go-card included.

    £35 +VAT. Cash. No paperwork.

    No questions, repeat, no questions. They do not know who you are, where you live, where you are going.

    Walk into Post Office.

    Slap £30 cash into aforementioned card.


    Drive to layby. Spam. Spam and eggs. Spam, spam, spam and chips.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    I remember something slightly similar

    I made a lot of international calls on my landline and then suddenly I noticed the phone could no longer make outgoing calls. The phone company had blocked it because I spent over £100 in a month.

    Surely Orange would have a spending limit per month, so if someone goes over the limit, then it stops. I blame Orange for not blocking it because even over £100 a month is rather high, however, Orange let the student spend enough money to buy a decent brand new car.

    I blame Orange for deliberately allowing the student to rack up such a high bill.

  17. paul carrington

    How much data?

    The amount of data must have been ridiculous. I wonder if skype had him acting as a supernode? Do orange not provide a tool with the dongle to monitor your usage? What if his machine was on a botnet? In fairness unless you are reasonably techno-savy you wont know these things, nor the amount of bandwidth consumed by them.

  18. Adam 10

    I can see how it happens

    I occasionally use my Nokia N95 to surf on my house wi-fi. As it downloads each webpage the status bar shows you how much has been downloaded so far...

    I was surprised at how many simple websites are 1mb or more. The sky news homepage is several megabytes and it's not even that graphically rich. Each time you click on a link to a news story, another few megabytes.

    So, if you check the news a few times a day, watch a few youtube videos and make some Skype calls, it's very easy to hit 2.7GB in a month.

    He should have read the small print...

  19. GaryH

    re duh#

    but surely he wasn't on a pay as you go or he would have never been able to run up such a charge? Assuming he was pay monthly they should have contact details for him on file and a quick call / email from customer services should have been in order. It sounds as though the same spending controls on a phone account aren't implemented on the data-only accounts.

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