Vodafone charges man more than $AU10k for one hour of net

WHEN James Stevenson arrived in Cape Town on holiday with his family, he was expecting a relaxing holiday. It was the first time he and his wife, Sarah, had taken their 15-month-old daughter Luna on a long-haul flight.

He switched on his phone to retrieve hotel details from an email, and felt his phone buzz. By the time he had found the email, Vodafone had sent a text telling him he had run up a bill of £495. Confused, he called the company and found out his total bill for data roaming in the airport was more than £5,000 - the same amount he spent on the family holiday.

Mr Stevenson, 44, the director of a recruitment company living in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, said: "All I did was to find an email after a 12-hour flight with a one-year-old. This all took place in the airport and Vodafone has confirmed it was less than an hour of roaming, their minimum time breakdown. Vodafone say there is nothing they can do."

He said his holiday was spoiled due to the stress: "Vodafone were dismissive, and I spent the holiday worrying about this bill."

He challenged Vodafone, which said it is unable to help, and have suggested he takes the case to Ofcom.

Roaming charges will be banned across Europe from June 2017, with an interim cap being brought into place from April 2016. But confusion over charges outside Europe is widespread - with mobile phone users left aggrieved when they run up unsuspecting bills.

The charity Citizens Advice believes mobile phone providers should offer  opt-in warnings to people in danger of running up significant charges. 

A spokesman for Vodafone said: "We'll look into this as a high priority and will be in contact with Mr Stevenson to discuss the outstanding amount."