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UK Girl Handed $5,700 Roaming Bill After Vacation in NYC

By - Source: Daily Mail | B 40 comments

Talk about bill shock.

One of the most inconvenient things about traveling abroad is that you can't use your phone. Unless you're willing to pay hefty roaming charges, you're better off buying a local SIM card or not using your cell phone at all. Unfortunately, it seems no one told 14-year-old Casey Snook this. The schoolgirl was recently faced with a £3,800 phone bill from her provider when she returned from her holidays.

The Daily Mail reports that Snook and her mother were holidaying in New York at the end of May and the teenager was using her smartphone to post photos and updates to Facebook. The teenager apparently received a text message from Orange, her carrier, four days into the trip, informing her that she had gone over her data limit and that her normal £50 bill was now £320. The carrier blocked calls and texts but did not block data, and so the schoolgirl continued to use her phone (though the Daily Mail does report her mother told her to stop using it until they got home).

When they got back from their holiday, they got a call from Casey's dad, who said the total bill was £3,800. Casey's mum doesn't understand why they received no further warnings regarding the overage charges while Orange insists multiple messages were sent. Not only that, but the company also asked Casey if she wanted to use data despite going over her limit and she supposedly clicked 'yes.' Orange says they have a number of protections in place when roaming, and that they're even automatically opted-in to a data roaming cap that limits charges to £49 for a set amount of data.

"Customers receive warning texts to alert them of their data usage and we have an app that helps them monitor data usage, and opt-in to a data bundle if needed," Orange told the Daily Mail. "In this instance the customer received numerous text alerts which updated them on the roaming costs for the USA, and also updated them on their data usage. Once they had reached the limit of their data bundle, the customer actively opted out of our roaming data cap so that they could continue to use data, effectively removing the in-built protection from large data roaming bills."

Casey's parents are going to pay the bill but say the rates are ridiculous, that it's extortion, and that their daughter doesn't remember opting out of her roaming data cap. They also want to know why they didn't receive more warnings from Orange.

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Top Comments
  • 35 Hide
    jessterman21 , July 17, 2013 5:35 AM
    "Impossible that my 14-year-old is lying! I demand recompense!"
  • 21 Hide
    TeraMedia , July 17, 2013 6:48 AM
    Round-trip plane tickets from Heathrow to JFK: 1133 euros.
    Boutique hotel rooms in the panhandle: 1321 euros
    Steaks at McCormick & Schmick's: 183 euros
    Using your Orange phone to document your trip on facebook: priceless

    When you simply must get snookered by your mobile carrier, nothing beats the data-consuming abilities of a teenage girl. For everything else, there's Mastercard.
  • 11 Hide
    06yfz450ridr , July 17, 2013 5:02 AM
    I agree you cant go one block in nyc without seeing atleast 50 different wifi connects with some being free to use

    But that bill is crazy, how i miss unlimited data. To bad all the carriers are overloaded and thats why its not really possible anymore minus sprint. That or they just love charging overage fees
Other Comments
  • 9 Hide
    hixbot , July 17, 2013 4:41 AM
    Overages should be illegal, any extra data usage above your plan should be a pro-rated charge at the same cost per MB as found in the standard plan. There is no way a cell carrier can justify that they need to charge 1000 times more per MB if you go over some arbitrary data cap.

    That being said, why didn't this girl's parents take the cell phone away? Also why wasn't she using wifi? New York city has at least 1 open wifi network on every block.
  • 11 Hide
    06yfz450ridr , July 17, 2013 5:02 AM
    I agree you cant go one block in nyc without seeing atleast 50 different wifi connects with some being free to use

    But that bill is crazy, how i miss unlimited data. To bad all the carriers are overloaded and thats why its not really possible anymore minus sprint. That or they just love charging overage fees
  • 6 Hide
    virtualban , July 17, 2013 5:18 AM
    Pre-paid plans don't look so bad now...
  • 35 Hide
    jessterman21 , July 17, 2013 5:35 AM
    "Impossible that my 14-year-old is lying! I demand recompense!"
  • 10 Hide
    Spooderman , July 17, 2013 5:45 AM
    Why the hell didn't she stop when she was told that she had gone over? I mean, come on. No sympathy there.
  • 6 Hide
    natoco , July 17, 2013 5:46 AM
    Every single carrier hopes you over use and go over your cap to charge you heaps for your own negligence. That's when the real money starts to be made from the consumer. This is common knowledge like death and taxs. The 14yr old is just outright lying about not seeing the messages and opting out. Pre paid till 18 I say or the parents foot the bill.
  • 5 Hide
    fenix1186 , July 17, 2013 6:14 AM
    This is why I use Sprint. I'm not dealing with that overage shit, arbitrary data limits, etc. I refuse to support a company that doesn't have unlimited.
  • 6 Hide
    slomo4sho , July 17, 2013 6:15 AM
    Stupidity should have it's rewards. Let her cherish this prize.
  • -2 Hide
    jk_ventolero , July 17, 2013 6:31 AM
    Haha, kids. :lol: 
  • 21 Hide
    TeraMedia , July 17, 2013 6:48 AM
    Round-trip plane tickets from Heathrow to JFK: 1133 euros.
    Boutique hotel rooms in the panhandle: 1321 euros
    Steaks at McCormick & Schmick's: 183 euros
    Using your Orange phone to document your trip on facebook: priceless

    When you simply must get snookered by your mobile carrier, nothing beats the data-consuming abilities of a teenage girl. For everything else, there's Mastercard.
  • 3 Hide
    ddpruitt , July 17, 2013 6:54 AM
    Quote:
    The teenager apparently received a text message from Orange, her carrier, four days into the trip, informing her that she had gone over her data limit and that her normal £50 bill was now £320. The carrier blocked calls and texts but did not block data, and so the schoolgirl continued to use her phone (though the Daily Mail does report her mother told her to stop using it until they got home).


    Quote:
    Casey's parents are going to pay the bill but say the rates are ridiculous, that it's extortion, and that their daughter doesn't remember opting out of her roaming data cap.


    I agree that overages and caps are stupid in most cases. But this is a case of a teenager being a teenager. She admitted she got a text that she went over 4 days into the trip and now she's surprised and acting innocent?

    Time for the people that sired her to act like parents.
  • 6 Hide
    bin1127 , July 17, 2013 7:16 AM
    A picture is worth a thousand bucks.
  • 3 Hide
    dark_lord69 , July 17, 2013 7:43 AM
    sounds like a stupid teen that was warned plenty...
    at least she got warnings, for years in america you get a huge bill without any knowledge that you've gone over in any way. It was a total scam.
    Got a $300 bill after I met my girlfriend and talked to her excessively and ended up going over my minutes.

    Unlimited plans are the way to go... NO Issues, NO Bullsh*t
    Still gotta be careful about leaving the country though. If you do then just get a pay as you go type phone when you get there. Then you just buy cards for more minutes/service as needed while you are there, no surprise bills.
  • 3 Hide
    teh_chem , July 17, 2013 8:40 AM
    So the provider will cut service to voice and texts as a precautionary measure, yet not cut service to the most-expensive part of their roaming plan; data?

    Quote:
    Overages should be illegal, any extra data usage above your plan should be a pro-rated charge at the same cost per MB as found in the standard plan. There is no way a cell carrier can justify that they need to charge 1000 times more per MB if you go over some arbitrary data cap.

    That being said, why didn't this girl's parents take the cell phone away? Also why wasn't she using wifi? New York city has at least 1 open wifi network on every block.


    I think that overage fees are excessive with most providers, but this case was about roaming vs. overage. Though to play devil's advocate, providers might argue that they plan for a certain amount of load based on a pre-determined per-user usage. And high outliers tax their systems more than expected. Then again, there are also a lot of minimal data users. So I can't imagine that the average changes much. It just ends up being a cash grab.

    Regarding overage fees, I really respect how Ting mobile (a MVNO operating on the Sprint network) does it. You can select a basic data package size, with sizes of like 200MB, 500MB, 1GB, 2GB, and 3GB getting set (and reasonable) monthly prices. If you end up going to the next-larger bin, all you get charged is for that next-larger bin price (they don't care if you went beyond your initial set amount). No overage fees. If you go beyond 3GB, you pay per-MB beyond 3GB at the equivalent MB cost for the 3GB package (it's not a lot, $0.02/MB, and there's no upper limit)
  • -1 Hide
    deltatux , July 17, 2013 8:43 AM
    Carriers really need to do more automated messages that reminds customers at different tiers about their roaming charges and should use an "opt-out" system than an "opt-in" system in terms of blocking calls/text and data. They should have also blocked data too instead of only calls and texts. It's rather obvious that data roaming nets the most profit for these companies so I don't see them ever doing that.

    However, a $5700 bill isn't even close to "record breaking" for roaming. I've seen many similar horror story in Canada but there was the case where a father was charged $22,000 (yes, enough to buy a new car) for roaming when his son turned on data roaming. More here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2013/03/01/bc-rogers-roaming.html
  • 0 Hide
    zeratul600 , July 17, 2013 8:45 AM
    The girl is an idiot, but it must be illegal for a carrier to charge so much for data! even when it's roaming or whatever
  • 1 Hide
    rostrow416 , July 17, 2013 9:10 AM
    Her mom told her to stop. Hey mom, how about making sure she stopped.
  • 4 Hide
    Vorador2 , July 17, 2013 9:11 AM
    Roaming is just a way for carriers to reap massive profits with very little cost. Europe is trying to squash roaming overcharges, and EEUU should follow suit.
  • -1 Hide
    tlg , July 17, 2013 9:18 AM
    Britsh under-18 kid acting irresponsibly and parents saying its the fault of the service/company/someone else. Typical British behavior.
  • 1 Hide
    acadia11 , July 17, 2013 9:41 AM
    What!!!!!!!!! They are going to pay it?
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