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James Stevenson, 44, checked one email while at airport in South Africa
    He instantly received text message telling him he had run up a bill of £495
    Father called Vodafone to dispute but was told he had actually spent £5,000
    Trying to fight huge data roaming charges which were same amount as trip

A father has been billed more than £5,000 in data roaming charges after checking his emails while on a family holiday to South Africa.

James Stevenson, 44, from Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, said he turned his phone on after the long-haul flight to Cape Town to retrieve the hotel booking details from his email account.

However, he said within minutes he received a text message from Vodafone informing him he had run up a bill of £495 for logging on at the airport.
James Stevenson, 44, from Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, said he turned on his phone after a long-haul flight to Cape Town in South Africa to check an email, only to be charged £5,000 in data roaming charges by Vodafone. The recruitment director is pictured with wife Sarah, who he took on holiday with their 15-month-old daughter

He immediately contacted the mobile phone network provider to dispute the amount, but was told his bill was actually much higher as he had been charged more than £5,000 for data roaming charges.

It is understood he downloaded a raft of emails at the airport as he logged on to find the particular one he needed containing the hotel booking details.

Vodafone, on a basic pay monthly tariff, charges £3 per megabyte for usage abroad, and £5 per every five megabytes used thereafter.

Mr Stevenson, the director of Freedom Recruitment in London, said the phone bill cost him the same amount as his entire holiday to Cape Town – the first time he and his wife Sarah had taken their young daughter Luna on a long-haul trip.

He told the Independent: 'All I did was [look] to find an email after a 12-hour flight with a one-year-old.

'This all took place in the airport and Vodafone has confirmed it was less than an hour of roaming, their minimum time breakdown. Vodafone say there is nothing they can do.'

He added that his holiday was ruined due to the stress of the incident, adding: 'Vodafone were dismissive, and I spent the holiday worrying about this bill.'
Mr Stevenson, director of a London recruitment firm, has returned to the UK and has challenged the bill, but claims Vodafone has so far been unable to help

Mr Stevenson, director of a London recruitment firm, has returned to the UK and has challenged the bill, but claims Vodafone has so far been unable to help

Mr Stevenson has now returned to the UK and has challenged the bill, but claims Vodafone has so far been unable to help.

A spokesman for Vodafone said: 'We'll look into this as a high priority and will be in contact with Mr Stevenson to discuss the outstanding amount.'

Citizens Advice said holidaymakers regularly return to face bills of thousands of pounds due to high charges, and many do not realise how quickly costs can rise or that they are even using mobile data.

Within the EU, consumers are currently protected by a cap of 17p per megabyte, but the cap does not apply outside the EU and can cost up to £8 per megabyte.

Rates vary per consumer as they depend on the provider, the destination and whether the customer has bought a 'bolt-on' for use of data abroad.

Citizens Advice is calling for more warnings for consumers about data roaming costs and a voluntary price cap, in a bid to stop such incidents occurring. It is also calling on providers to do more to protect their customers.

Providers are currently required to send a warning message to customers when their bill reaches £35, but there is no requirement to send additional warnings.

Citizens Advice wants new rules that would force providers to send additional warnings and implement a maximum per megabyte cost.

The charity also wants to see measures introduced to ensure customers are treated fairly and are not pushed into debt by unexpectedly high bills.
Mr Stevenson said his his holiday had been ruined due to the stress of the incident, adding: 'Vodafone were dismissive, and I spent the holiday worrying about this bill.' Vodafone said it is now investigating the charges +3

Mr Stevenson said his his holiday had been ruined due to the stress of the incident, adding: 'Vodafone were dismissive, and I spent the holiday worrying about this bill.' Vodafone said it is now investigating the charges
COSTLY DATA ROAMING CHARGES TO BE SCRAPPED IN EUROPE IN 2017

Data roaming charges are the often the costliest part about going on holiday for many Britons.

In Europe, charges are currently capped under EU rules and stand at 0.19 euros (16.6p) per minute for calls, 0.06 euros (4.4p) per SMS and 0.20 euros (16.9p) per megabyte of data.

However, outside of Europe charges can rocket with calls costing as much as £2.50 per minute and data costing up to £8 per megabyte.

This means holidaymakers find their bills can soar if using their mobile phones abroad to download emails, go online and stream videos.

For example, a 30-minute TV programme uses up around 500mb of data – which equates to around £4,000 in data roaming charges if accessed out of the EU member states.

Watchdogs have routinely called for the charges to be scrapped or capped, and they will finally be banned across Europe in 2017, after an EU ruling.

Under proposals backed in Strasbourg, from 2017 British tourists in Europe will not be charged any more for using their phone than if they were in the UK.

Instead, phone users will pay the same price to make calls, send messages and use data as they would in the UK.

Before the full deal comes into effect, data roaming charges will be slashed from April 2016 to 0.05 euros per minute for calls, 0.02 euros per SMS and 0.05 per megabyte of data.

Providers will still be allowed to apply a 'fair use policy' to prevent 'abusive' use of roaming when the new cap comes into place, the European Council said.

Source: DailyMail

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