Had a big phone bill? It’s nothing compared to this, but..

Had a big phone bill? Its nothing compared to this, but..

You may have seen stories about the recent Orange customer who received a rather substantial bill. His Business Sense 1500 plan covered 10 phones and had bills of around £300 per month. Alan and Carolyn Mazkouri, from Swansea, have been with Orange for 15 years.

However, one day Alan found that his mobile had developed a strange fault and got very hot, so Orange replaced it. However, shortly after he had it cut off as the company spotted a large bill on his account.

That bill, as you can see here, was for over £163,000. It took him many months of wrangling to get it sorted out, and despite the bill arriving last September, Orange have only just rectified the issue fully and given Alan a goodwill gesture of £250.

There’s more to this though. How exactly did he get that massive bill?

Well, the phone was faulty. We’re not sure how, but the network registered that it had pulled down 52GB of data. Alan himself isn’t great with phones and rarely sent texts, let alone opened a browser. His data plan was set at 1GB, but here you can see the amount of megabytes he actually used..

Had a big phone bill? Its nothing compared to this, but..Now this has made headlines. The poor guy got a huge bill, but we should just point something out. If he’d have been on the One Plan on Three (with the “All You Can Eat” data) then his bill wouldn’t have ever got in the news.

A couple of years ago we tested the Three offering, and managed to burn through 45.15GB, and our man Dan paid just over £28 for the plan at the time. Check out the bill…

Had a big phone bill? Its nothing compared to this, but..

People questioned this and asked us whether it was a marketing stunt, so we did it again, this time on a Three SIM-only One Plan that we bought in a shop. This time we used 44GB and guess how much extra it cost in charges? Absolutely nothing.

52GB of data on Orange in this example, £163,000 bill

44GB-45GB of data on Three in our testing, and we paid less than £30.

So, if you want to avoid excess data charges, you know what to do.

Had a big phone bill? Its nothing compared to this, but..

Update – We’ve had a message from “Lord Gordon Gopher” on Twitter who’s shown us his Three AYCE days usage. It’s a massive 100GB!!! No additional charges for him either..

Had a big phone bill? Its nothing compared to this, but..

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  • quote: “If he’d have been on the One Plan on Three (with the “All You Can Eat”data) then his bill wouldn’t have ever got in the news.”
    He wouldn’t have been able to access it a lot of the time and wouldn’t have been able to make/take calls either :)
    It does go both ways folks

  • weirdstuff

    Hehe, subtle end to the article. But what are you really saying, enough with the double-speak and clever innuendos…?

  • colinp

    seem coolsmartphone needs to be rebranded coolthreephone, many people are happy withvthe service they get, this artical stinks of sneeky back handed advertising.
    the artical never even trys to explain how his phone used up that much data

    • Anonymous

      Thats a bit unfair. Coolsmartphone have merely reported a news item that is factual – customer runs up huge bill because of faulty phone that even his operator replaced. For it to have got hot it will have been “doing something”, quite obviously there are 163,178 explanation of that :-). It is also a fact that, had that occurred on any of Three’s All You Can Eat plans (including PAYG), there would have been no additional data charges.

      So, what I’m saying is that it cannot be unfair, underhanded or anything else for Coolsmartphone (and any other blog) to report happening while, with all reasonable intent, offer good advice to people worried about such things.

      What has not been discussed in the Media (BBC Watchdog, the media, and even Coolsmartphone) is that OFCOM have mandated that UK MNOs must not cause such “Bill Shock” to their customers. That the operators should have reasonable means of alerting customers of usage likely to cause a high bill, and even take proactive measures to prevent it. Orange (EE) clearly did not. And for that alone they should be sanctioned by OFCOM.

    • Anonymous

      Er, I really don’t know how you reached that conclusion. What Three actually do is a much, much more honest way of providing data, and the article simply explains this. Orange’s excess data charges for business contracts are absolutely stupid (as are Vodafone and O2). After giving you a thousand megabytes for a flat charge of £8-12, they somehow see fit to charge you over £1 per megabyte when you exceed this, and often more. This practice is absolutely ludicrous, and is exceedingly dishonest – it’s a ploy to screw people over, nothing more.

      The fact that data usage is often invisible to the uninitiated (and often the initiated too) makes it even more of a scam from the phone companies. The fact that quite a number of phones can happily chew your data allowances in the background, either due to bugs or genuine services, means that it’s very easy to accidentally exceed your allowances.

      In this particular case, the phone in question was faulty and was using up data completely unbeknownst to the user. He reported that it was inexplicably heating up and draining the battery.

      Now, if a phone is doing this, it’s hardly the users fault, and lets face it, 50+ GB does not represent anywhere near £160k of costs to a phone company (unless you have a satellite phone, but even then…). The very least Orange should have done is send him a text message to tell him his data allowance was used up (as Voda and O2 do), then at least he’d know something was wrong.

      I find it absolutely disgusting that Orange still maintain this dishonest practice, and I hope that this news item puts as many people off using them as possible. I know at least 3 people on Orange business have been screwed this way and ended up with £400+ bills for data, and Orange made them pay it!

      Truth is, Orange probably make more cash doing this (basically theft) than they make per year on a standard contract, so what’s the motivation for them to stop? Offcom are basically useless in this regard, as despite many complaints to say out-of-bundle data is completely unreasonable, they don’t seem to have done a single thing.

  • Paul

    I disagree, Brett. How do get through 40+ Gb of data if you’re not “able to access it a lot of the time”? I can make and take calls and I get anything between 5 and 25Mb/s down. While others complain about their provider, I have very few issues with Three. There was a time when calls were dropped regularly and the data service was more of a pipe dream but now they provide a service that I believe quite a number of EE customers would be quite envious of.

  • Nigel

    Having been on the recieving end of a £3000 bill from Orange for data overuse I am now happily on the Three AYCE data plan. I still cannot understand how Orange justify their rip-off charges – mine was about 4 years ago – I was paying £5 for a 500Mb bundle orn orange but in this particular month I used over 1 Gb – the first 500 MB cost 1p per meg and once over that level it started charging £2.50 per Mb of data

    I involved OFCOM and certain arbitration services

    I asked questions like – do Orange not have a duty of care to warn me once the data charges rise by 250000% ?

    Why do Orange send you a warning text once you have used £5 of data when you are abroad but not in this country

    My normal bill was about £50 per month – is there no moral obligation to tell me when my total is say 10 times over my normal amount ??

    In the response to OFCOM Orange said – that because my account was a Business account they would never limit it because the overuse might be intentional. They said that they have 19 million customers and they couldnt possibly monitor all of them (they manage to bill them ok)

    The moral – move to Three

    Orange are a dishonest immoral shady organisation who only look to line their own pockets and fleece their customers at any opprtunity