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Housebound Talkmobile customer cut off for 'roaming' charges

Monday, February 2nd 2015 by Hannah Langston

A woman from Kent has been hit with a £133 mobile phone bill for accessing the Internet from abroad – despite rarely leaving her house.

Karrine Crittenden, who has been on crutches since an accident last May, refused to pay for the charges and subsequently had her phone blocked by Talkmobile.

Ms Crittenden signed up to a £15 a month contract from the Vodafone-owned operator in November, but has not been able to make calls, text or access mobile internet since Christmas Eve.

“I’m housebound so need my phone with me at all times,” she told Cable.co.uk.

“I’ve not been abroad and my data roaming wasn’t even on as I’m always connected to wi-fi.

Talkmobile contracts include either a 500MB or 1GB data allowance – data used outside of this is subject to a charge of 10p per MB, the operator states on its website.

However, EU legislation means mobile networks must cap your data usage in EU countries at €50 (roughly £40).

After contacting Carphone Warehouse – which runs Talkmobile’s customer services – Ms Crittenden was asked to send her phone in for testing.

“They said it was my fault and that I had left data roaming on but I know I didn’t. I’ve had the same phone for ages and it never did this when I was a Orange customer.”

Carphone Warehouse found no fault with the device but would not post it back to her. Instead it insisted she make the journey into the Tunbridge Wells store to collect the phone.

“I told them I couldn’t get to the store and asked them to send it back. They emailed me back and said I had to go to the store and take in the bill personally so that they could write it off.

“A friend took me to the store but Carphone Warehouse wouldn’t look at the bill. They made me stand and wait while they called another department. They didn’t even need me there for verification reasons as the assistant never handed me the phone,” she added.

Carphone Warehouse told Ms Crittenden the problem may have been caused by a fault, which meant the phone would roam on 3G without warning.

“They said they would check the SIM to make sure but have still not come back to me.”

Ms Crittenden has since received another bill from Talkmobile – taking the total owed to almost £200: “It’s absolutely ridiculous. I haven’t used my handset since Christmas Eve”.

Cable.co.uk has received dozens of complaints from Talkmobile customers who claim they have been charged for data they have not used.

“I think Talkmobile have either made a mistake or done it on purpose, hoping people would think they had actually used the data,” Ms Crittenden added.

When approached for comment, Talkmobile requested the customer’s details and has since informed us customer services are investigating the issue.

[UPDATE: After looking into Ms Crittenden's issues, Carphone Warehouse confirmed that her charges were not incurred through international roaming, but through general 3G data consumption. Commenting on the reason for the high charges, a spokesperson said: “We are sorry to hear that Ms Crittenden unintentionally incurred data costs on her Talkmobile contract.

"Following an investigation, we have discovered that these charges may have been incurred due to a fault on her phone, which meant that 3G could have been used when the device appeared to be connected to wi-fi. A representative of Talkmobile has spoken with Ms Crittenden and she has confirmed that she is happy with the resolution offered.

“The rise in data consumption and the explosion of apps can bring a minefield of choices. Our advice to customers is always to exercise caution when using data services on their phone if they have limited allowance, to prevent them exceeding the services included in their contract, as it can take a few days for usage figures to update. The website contains advice on how to set up wi-fi and recommends using wi-fi when downloading apps, games and other files. Talkmobile also provides advice to customers on apps that they can use to help them keep track of their monthly bill to avoid bill shock, such as Bill Angel.”]

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