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Using my Orange mobile in the US wasn’t a smart move

When I got home I had a phone bill for £2,600

My wife and I went to the US in July for three weeks on a retirement trip, which we had saved for for some time. I have a smart phone (HTC) on contract from Orange for which I pay £35 a month by direct debit from my NatWest current account.

On 1 August more than £1,900 was taken from my account by Orange. Orange said over £700 more was due to be taken out on 1 September.

After I expressed my concern, the person I spoke to told me he would stop the direct debit and told me to do the same my end. He also advised me that I could indemnify the direct debit paid out in August while any complaint is sorted, which I have requested my bank to do.

In the US the network showing was AT&T and, although I acknowledge ignorance of what to expect and clearly should not have used my phone, I have been alarmed by what has occurred. There was no indication costs could reach anywhere near this level. Frankly, it feels like theft and it has taken the gloss off what was a great trip.

Orange said I used 200 megabytes (MB) at £5 per MB but I was not aware that using a smart phone to access BBC News, sport etc would lead to this. DL, Stratford-upon-Avon

Historically, these charges have been very expensive, with consumers like you returning from holiday to bills of hundreds, or even thousands, of pounds. Since 1 July 2010, EU consumers’ data-roaming bills have been automatically limited to €50 a month, excluding VAT (unless they choose a higher or lower limit).

Operators have to send users in the EU a warning when they reach 80% of their data-roaming limit and the operator has to cut off the mobile internet connection once the limit has been reached, unless the customer has indicated they want to continue data roaming that particular month.

The EU is also to introduce a cap of 80p (90 cents) per megabyte from July 2012.

However, these rules only apply within the EU, and charges to other destinations can be (and will remain for the foreseeable) far greater – as you have discovered to your horror.

The good news is that Orange tells us that, while this was your mistake because the overseas roaming charges are clearly set out in its terms and conditions, it sympathises with what has happened and has agreed to reduce your bill by £1,000, leaving you with a final bill of £1,600. As you have already paid £1,900 you should have £300 refunded.

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