The simple act of checking one e-mail has left a Berkhamsted man with a bill for over £5,000. Mobile service provider Vodafone hit James Stevenson, 44, with a £495 bill for opening the e-mail in Cape Town Airport. They sent him a text message informing him of the charge.
When he telephoned Vodafone’s service centre to query the exorbitant amount, he said he was told that the actual bill had topped the £5,000 mark. The extra charges are believed to have been caused by other e-mails opening as Mr Stevenson searched for the one with his hotel confirmation and details on it.
He explained that he arrived at the South African airport with his partner and their 15-month-old daughter and at first tried to access the airport’s wireless internet service. When he could not get a signal he decided to hook up to Vodafone’s roaming service in the belief that the charge could not be that expensive.
Mr Stevenson told reporters all that Vodafone had done was confirm that accessing the e-mail equated to lower than one hour of data-roaming. He claimed that the Vodafone representative told him their minimum roaming breakdown charge is for one hour.
He described the company’s attitude as intransigent and was also told if he did not like the service charge he could always take the matter up with communications regulator Ofcom. The recruitment company director finished off by saying the roaming charges were dearer than the whole holiday for three and the stress of it had ruined the trip.
When contacted by journalists, a Vodafone spokesperson said the company would be checking the charges applied to Mr Stevenson’s account. The representative said the matter would be given the highest priority and also that somebody would be contacting the customer in the very near future.