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Single mum 'speechless' after daughter, 10, runs up £1,000 Vodafone bill

Friday, August 28th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

A single mother has been hit with a bill of more than £1,000 after her daughter unwittingly soared above her mobile data allowance.

Viktoria Cole only learned of the situation when her card was declined at a petrol station on 3 August.

“I thought it was really weird because I’d just got paid,” the 31-year-old mum-of-two told Cable.co.uk.

“I rang Vodafone and to my absolute shock they had taken £632 out of my account.

“I had recently taken out a tablet and my daughter was using it but unbeknown to her she wasn’t connected to the home wi-fi – she was using data.”

Miss Cole, who works part-time as a receptionist, said she had assumed her daughter was connected to the wi-fi at home, and admitted she should have checked.

But she said she cannot understand why Vodafone doesn’t have a system in place to warn people of their soaring bills.

“I’ve got four lines with Vodafone, I’ve been a loyal customer for 10 years.

“I would have thought at some point I would have had a courtesy call warning me that my bill was so high.

“They might have sent through a text message at some point to the tablet saying she was coming to the end of her data but she wouldn’t have understood.

“If my bill had gone to £100 or something like that on the tablet, they have my mobile number, they could have sent me a text or called me just to alert me since it’s so unusual.”

After the shock discovery, Ms Cole had to get the bank to recall the money so she could afford her other expenses, then call Vodafone to try to sort out the situation.

'Horrible'

But she said when she first calls, the customer services representative she spoke to said they could do nothing about it and she would have to pay within three months.

“I’m sure it doesn’t even cost that much for data,” said Ms Cole, from Chippenham, Wiltshire.

“I rang back on 7 August and was put through to a more helpful person.

“He offered me £100 off the bill but I said no, because I truly didn’t believe it would cost that much. He then offered me £250 off the bill but said that was all he could do.

“And then he said they would set up a direct debit of £63 a month and I would have six months to pay it off instead of three. He also put another GB of data on.”

To Miss Cole’s surprise, the advisor then told her that while that sorted out the previous bill, the next bill was already up to around £500.

“I was speechless. I was so upset. I asked what he could do but he said nothing until the bill is generated.

“At that point I’d already taken my daughter’s SIM out of the tablet so she couldn’t use data, but apparently she’s already run up that much in the time."

Miss Cole said she has been a Vodafone customer for around a decade, and currently has three mobiles – one for her, one for her 13-year-old son and one for her father – as well as a tablet for her 10-year-old daughter.

“I’ve always paid on time. Even when my son has been abroad and the bill is a bit higher, I’ve paid it because that’s fair enough.

“But this is horrible, it’s a lot of money that I just can’t afford.

“When I called and they weren’t interested, that’s what shocked me most.

“If it was £100 I would be like, ‘ok, fair enough’. But over £1,000 in six weeks is unbelievable.”

Vodafone has launched an investigation into the case.

A spokesperson said: "We’re looking at Ms Cole’s case but it’s worth noting that if the wi-fi connection fails, any mobile device will automatically default to the 3G service if it can."

UPDATE: After looking into the issue, a Vodafone spokeswoman said: "We have discussed the account with Ms Cole and we have confirmed that she used 20GB of data in July, and 22GB in August. The charges are correct.

"We do send text messages to warn customers when they are at 80% of their inclusive allowance but we cannot take responsibility for customers receiving or reading these messages.

"It is always up to the customer to monitor their own spending. It’s worth noting that if wi-fi fails a device will automatically default to the 3G service if it can."

Vodafone has agreed a payment plan with Ms Cole over five months, the spokeswoman said, and has also agreed to reduce the outstanding amount by £250 as a goodwill gesture.

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