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Talkmobile customers hit by huge data bills in spite of usage caps

Monday, January 26th 2015 by Hannah Langston

Several customers of Vodafone-owned operator Talkmobile have received excessively high bills for data they claim they haven’t used, with one paying over £180 on a capped £50 tariff.

Grace Crawford, a local government officer from Hertfordshire, took out a £15 per month contract with a 500MB data allowance for her teenage son in November.

“He’s only ever at home or his dad’s house so he didn’t need a lot of data because he’s always in places where there’s wi-fi.

“When I got my first bill and it was £80 I was astonished,” she told Cable.co.uk.

Talkmobile contracts include either a 500MB or 1GB data allowance, with extra data subject to a charge of 10p per MB, the operator states on its website.

However, Ms Crawford said that data had been switched off on the phone and Carphone Warehouse, who runs Talkmobile’s customer services, confirmed she had done this correctly.

After raising the issue with customer services, Ms Crawford was told she could put a £10 data limit on the account and monitor what her son was using via an online app.

“My bill for January was £40 so I asked how can it go over? But they said the £10 limit was just a guide and it can go over.

“I think something’s going on behind the scenes here. I’m paying more on his contract than mine,” she added.

Another Talkmobile customer, recruitment director Tina Merry from Oxford, reported a similar issue with Talkmobile’s data caps.

'I hadn't been warned'

She took out a £14 per month contract for her 11-year old son in September but was shocked to find her son had run up £125 of data charges in the first month. This is despite Ms Merry’s previous request for a £50 limit on her son’s data usage.

“I told customer services ‘you haven’t capped him, what happened to the £50 cap?’ I wasn’t contacted about him going over, they just took £125 out of my account,” she told Cable.co.uk.

She only saw the £124.72 bill after being contacted by Talkmobile the following month when her son had used £55 worth of data.

“I got stopped because of going over by £5, I only clocked the previous month’s £125 bill when I was shown their online system by someone in the call centre – they didn’t have an explanation as to why I hadn’t been warned. How can he run up £125 of charges without it being cut off?”

What’s more, because Ms Merry is disputing the bill, her son’s phone has been blocked meaning he is unable to make or receive calls and texts. “My son is now walking to and from school in the dark without a phone,” she added.

“Rather than addressing the issue, customer services keep saying I should pay more each month so he can get extra data. It’s appalling.”

Customers have taken to Cable.co.uk’s forum to share similar experiences of Talkmobile.

User Butchie claimed he was still charged for data usage despite requesting a £50 cap: “I paid more than £180 on three occasions as apparently I went over my data, they told me that my tariff was capped to £50 but how come they still billed me with this amount?

“Their explanation was they do not have the access to check if you went over your data as they are under Vodafone – so what’s the point in capping then?”

User Andy also complained of receiving no warning when he exceeded his allowance: “In three years I have never exceeded my 500MB data limit until this month. I always use wi-fi where possible. Somehow – maybe apps updating or a fault, I don't know – I have gone 500MB over my limit. I am looking at charges in excess of £40 from Talkmobile. This is a total rip off.

“There was no warning to allow me to avoid the charges. I phoned customer services and got no help whatsoever. They are just not interested. I cannot wait to end my contract with Talkmobile.”

Cable.co.uk has put these claims to Carphone Warehouse but has not yet received a response.

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