Mobile phone heads up.

Submitted: Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 14:04
ThreadID: 69562 Views:3183 Replies:11 FollowUps:12
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2nd eldest is 20 and has had a mobile since he was maybe 16 or so. Recently he got one of these new touch screen phones and on a plan from Voda.

All good - for the first month or so.

Last weekend he went out for his 20th with a few friends - and at some point in the evening - must have sat down with his phone in his pocket without it being properly turned off.

Apparently theres a button on the touch screen that must have got inadvertantly pushed, with whatever he sat against or on - and this particular touch screen button, connects the phone automatically to Voda's web page.

Young feller had no idea he was connected to the internet - and didn;t download anything from the website - just stayed connected for a lot of hours while he sleot that night until the next day when he went to use the phone again.

Turns out he gets a bill from Voda for the month, with a $1500 internet component.

Voda won't listen - and have cut his mobile phone access (incomming calls only) until he pays up the owing $1500 for the internet useage that he has no way of knowing if it was really used.

he hasn;t accessed anything but vodas own website which is some kind of automatic feature with just the one touch screen button, there were no downloads or anything.

Anyone know what to do - who to call or see about this?

He doesnt actually want internet access on his phone at all and had no idea this could happen (he has his own laptop with wireless internet and uses that for all his web surfing etc on a capped monthly plan etc to avoid such unexpected large bills.

He hasn't used hisphone in the 4 years he has had mobiles for internet access...

Just seems a bit weird - you can cop a huge phone bill out of the blue for internet use - when you don't have any recollection of using the phone for internet access at all.

Bit confused at what to do to assist the lad...

Anyone come across this - how does he know Voda aren't just a bit short of cash in this recession and inviocing all their customers for internet access they never used in a scam to make millions of much needed $ profits?

Can he get his mobile phone internet access cut off by Voda so this can't happen again? (or will the dreaded touch screen button get him again whether he wants it or not?

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Reply By: Louie the fly (SA) - Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 14:19

Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 14:19
I know exactly how you're feeling. I gave my daughter my phone a few years ago because I got a work supplied phone. It was on a $30 plan. She was very responsible with it for over 2 years. Then all hell broke loose. She racked up $3K of internet in about 3 weeks. I went ballistic (you probably saw the glow in the night sky) but hey, what can you do. Anyway, the long & short of it all is we paid it and she's paying it off. I canceled the plan immediately when she told me. She now has pre-paid only that she pays for herself.

I thought about going off my face but resisted the urge, thinking that I need to teach both our kids how to effectively manage a situation like this.

I'd be ringing Voda(phone?) and explaining the situation. The Telstra guy I got was very understanding and he organised for them to give me 3 months to pay it. They can also assist your son in setting up his phone so it doesn't have the internet icon active on the screen, assuming the phone is capable of being set up like that.

If you are in a position to do so, helping them out financially can pay big dividends in the long run. My car has never been so clean! There are countless bribes attached to this you know.

AnswerID: 368701

Follow Up By: Louie the fly (SA) - Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 14:48

Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 14:48
Forgot to mention, she had used the internet on the phone on occasions but didn't know she had left the internet connected on the phone for long periods at a time. Fact is, there was no way to prove she didn't.
FollowupID: 636223

Reply By: Member - steveinoz (NSW) - Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 14:28

Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 14:28
Hi Flywest. My condolences. Have had the same happen with Voda. They milk theirs users on every opportunity, it seems. My biggest whine was if you rang someone and they were engaged, they still whack you with a call charge [30 sec @ 70c ]. I contacted the big three TV station and Today To Night took it on board and 24 hours later it was all sorted out. zero dollars charged on the calls mentioned. I had to push the point though. Give it a go. Nothing to loose.

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AnswerID: 368702

Reply By: _gmd_pps - Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 14:30

Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 14:30
What to do is the following:

Proof that the internet usage occurred at the date and time of his outing with his friends. Should be easy with the records from Vodaphone and then have his friends testify that he did not use the phone that evening. Then take the manufacturer/provider of the phone to court for damages. You don't need a lawyer.. it is easy to file with the courts and not expensive without a lawyer.
Just prepare your case properly (BUT DO NOT SUBMIT ANY EVIDENCE WHEN YOU FILE - thats for later).

You can not reject the bill as such. You have to argue with the manufacturer/provider of the phone that it is not "fit" for the purpose because it is generally not acceptable to engage functions accidentally when it is a mobile device designed to be carried around in a pocket.

I would file and serve Vodafone and/or Nokia or whoever is the manufacturer of the phone and then let them answer your case. You can file at your local court. Just do it .. it's real fun ..

I experienced a LOT of good will from magistrates when representing myself with the argument that the case value does not warrant a high bill for legal representation or even better that you cannot afford the bill. It would also be good if you know somebody working in a phone shop and testifying that such a situation is technically possible. You can call your own expert witness and it does not have to be an engineer or anyone really expensive. They only have to proof that they are familiar with the subject and competent to make a statement.

It is worth trying before you pay the 1500 and you only risk a few hundred more. If it is like you say it is and the argument is prepared well you should have no problem. You may have to study the consumer law a bit though.
I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advise, just my opinion having done a few court cases against government authorities (town planning, local council, ranger).

A last resort is the media, but I would not do it unless you have lost your case.

good luck
AnswerID: 368704

Reply By: Member - extfilm (NSW) - Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 14:46

Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 14:46
You can also go to the Ombudsman and get there advice..... That would be my first step.
AnswerID: 368706

Follow Up By: redeye141 - Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 17:49

Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 17:49
Extfilm. Spot on, They should sort it out

FollowupID: 636243

Follow Up By: Member - Bytemrk(VIC) - Sunday, Jun 07, 2009 at 12:54

Sunday, Jun 07, 2009 at 12:54
I'd agree 100%,,, but the ombudsman's first step will be direct you back to Vodaphone.

First I'd put your complaint to Vodaphone in writing. If and when they reject it, then take both that initial communication and their reply to the ombudsman.

That should save your son a few steps and you never know - Vodaphone may just help you.

Those that answer calls in their call centers have far less authority - or motivation to assist than those that handle formal written complaints.

Hope it all works out for you.

FollowupID: 636317

Reply By: get outmore - Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 15:12

Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 15:12
I got a bill with 1 internet use maybe 50C and then on the next bill there was 2

small amounts but i thought i would nip it in the bud - called telstra and told them i dont appreciate getting billed for internet I dont use especially not little sneaky 50c then $1 and i guess if i hadnt pulled them up they would have kept doing it

now internet is disabled
AnswerID: 368708

Reply By: tonbon - Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 15:34

Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 15:34
First point of call, Telecommunications Ombudsman. For a government run department they are fantastic. Then all above recommendations sound like reasonable advice.

AnswerID: 368710

Follow Up By: Member - Sigmund (VIC) - Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 16:14

Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 16:14
TIO website here.

If a company thinks it's going to have to commit serious resources dealing with a complaint you are likely to find it more willing to negotiate.

Good luck.
FollowupID: 636233

Reply By: garrycol - Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 15:57

Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 15:57
Sorry - but how is it Vodaphones fault that the user does not know how to use the phone or what is connected to it. This has happened to me and I had to wear it - my fault. I just simply had the internet facility disconnected.

What about the keylock facility on the phone?

So two issues - customer does not know what functions he has purchased with the phone and second customer does not know how to use phone (key lock) so that buttons do not activate when in the pocket.

A lesson learnt the hard way.

AnswerID: 368713

Follow Up By: Member - Sigmund (VIC) - Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 16:18

Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 16:18
It was an innocent mistake.

I made a stupid mistake recently when activating overseas roaming for my mobile. Thought I'd read all the conditions but didn't realise that I'd wear int'l call rates for folk calling me. $400 for 3 weeks of occasional calls. Ouch. Course I wore that one.
FollowupID: 636234

Follow Up By: olcoolone - Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 20:45

Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 20:45
Oh human nature......lets blame someone or something else for our mistakes.

Now Vodafone is made to look like the bad guys, isn't it funny how some people can turn their mistakes into someone else's.

Yeah go to court and the judge will award it to Vodafone plus expenses.

Grow up and accept it!

Don't forget Telco's are doing us a favour by supplying a service.

Can some please explain in understandable terms what has Vodafone done WRONG?

That's all I've got to say.

FollowupID: 636270

Follow Up By: Austravel - Monday, Jun 08, 2009 at 14:20

Monday, Jun 08, 2009 at 14:20
Hi Sigmund,

Which provider do you use? I've got international roaming on a telstra phone and don't think I get billed when others call me. I'll certainly have a look though.
FollowupID: 636442

Follow Up By: Member - Sigmund (VIC) - Monday, Jun 08, 2009 at 14:36

Monday, Jun 08, 2009 at 14:36
I'm with 3 Austravel.

The key was (is) that folk ringing me didn't have to enter an international dialling code. This was in NZ roaming with Vodaphone over there.
FollowupID: 636443

Follow Up By: Austravel - Monday, Jun 08, 2009 at 18:41

Monday, Jun 08, 2009 at 18:41
Aaaah thanks that makes sense. I didn't realise you where overseas when the call were made. I'm the same with Telstra if calls made overseas with international roaming on it'll cost both parties. Actually if I use this sim in the sat phone cost will make your eyes bleed!!
FollowupID: 636469

Reply By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 16:49

Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 16:49
Most phones have a keypad lock so the phone cant do exactly that Tell him to use it.

You should also be able to look up your connection records to see if in fact its true.
In the phones menu there is usually also a log of calls made.

He should be able to remove the configuration for net access. How to do it will be in the book no one reads.


AnswerID: 368720

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 20:22

Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 20:22
I rang my son who is a bit of a wiz on these
He has an IPHONE and had a Nokia N95 till it got stolen and a Samsung touch screen and he said they all have lockable screens with variable lock times.
He also said if there is no movement in 2 minutes the phone shuts down.

Therefore son must have been rather active or had the locks turned off on the phone.

Get the internet disabled on it

Just remove any access point in the connections screen.

RTFM it works wonders.

Unfortunately its not Vodafones fault that he couldnt work it properly or chose to leave it unlocked.

Negotiate nicely and look at the log times.
Sometimes works better than the big stick approach.

Hard way to learn a lesson unfortunately.

FollowupID: 636268

Reply By: BenDiD - Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 22:28

Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 22:28

I strongly echo the comments above re Telecommunications Ombudsman.

I would get in contact with them straight away. One of the fantastic things they will do is help you talk to the right people at Vodafone - the people who can give definitive answers and actually do a deal.

Also, once Telecommunications Ombudsman opens a file and gets in touch with Vodafone, VF wont do anything re chasing your son until the process run through / with the ombudsman is finalised. So, worth the effort even if all it does is buy you some time.

The call centre people you may have spoken with so far will have a set script they use to answer you and wont know who to escalate your son's issue to even if they want to. (Not having a go at call center workers, the have a tough job and can only work with what the company gives them.)

Best of luck.


AnswerID: 368755

Follow Up By: Waynepd (NSW) - Monday, Jun 08, 2009 at 19:59

Monday, Jun 08, 2009 at 19:59
Had a similar experience with Energy Australia somehow racked up $990+ in power bill over one quarter. My bill is usually in the $550-580 region
Tried talking to them but the enquiries desk girl couldn't see how a meter reader could get it wrong or that a meter could be faulty....

A call to the Ombudsman with all the relevant details. They are allowed to talk to the higher levels of management in a company. Where decisions are made.

Suddenly there was a corrected bill for $522 mailed to me with an apology from some regional/area manager type.

This was my first experience with an Ombudsman and i am impressed they certainly seem to have some clout. At the very least they would be able to tell you if you have a chance of winning a dispute and maybe arrange payment terms to suit...
FollowupID: 636491

Reply By: Shaker - Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 23:10

Saturday, Jun 06, 2009 at 23:10
Vodaphone have done nothing wrong, the OP explains how it happened.
AnswerID: 368763

Reply By: Zebra400 - Sunday, Jun 07, 2009 at 06:10

Sunday, Jun 07, 2009 at 06:10
$1500 for one night's download! Seems a lot of money for one night. I think you need to get a printout of when he accessed the web and which sites. I think you may find it is more than one night of download.

Just being connected to the web on a mobile phone doesn't normally rack up a cost to users. This is because most internet mobile phone connections are packet based, not timed based. This means if you are not uploading or downloading data, then you are not being charged.

I think you need to consider further investigation of your son's account before running off to the onbudsman.
AnswerID: 368775

Follow Up By: paulnsw - Sunday, Jun 07, 2009 at 10:24

Sunday, Jun 07, 2009 at 10:24
Sounds like you got it right. Cannot see how you could rack up $1,500 in one night. What do they say about telling the complete story.
FollowupID: 636304

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