EE's Orange arm managed to bill a customer £163,000 for a month's data use, thanks to a dodgy handset which was opening a data connection every 20 minutes.
Alan Mazkouri had a business deal with mobile telco Orange. Last summer his phone began overheating and draining the battery, so much so that Mazkouri took the dodgy handset back to his local Orange shop for a replacement.
However, the damage had already been done as the dying mobe had spent the last three weeks running up an epic bill for £163,178.86.
Orange slipped him £250 by way of compensation, but seemingly that's not good enough for Mazkouri, who has been complaining to the BBC's Watchdog programme about the injustice of it all.
Orange agreed to cancel the debt but failed to update its records, thus spending seven months issuing demands for hundreds of thousands of pounds to the increasingly frustrated Mr Mazkouri, who described himself as a “technophobe” who could barely send a text message. Eventually he got his solicitor to goad Orange into action.
“We apologise to the Mazkouris for the inconvenience. We have fully refunded all charges from this exceptionally high bill and offered a further gesture of goodwill. We look forward to hearing from them,” an Orange spokesman told the BBC.
However, it seems that Mazkouri has decided his future is brighter without Orange, as he has vowed to change mobile supplier.
El Reg doesn't know where the data connections from Mazkouri's phone were going, but given the handset was faulty, and the quantity of data was so large, it's probable that the connections weren't properly addressed or maintained, thereby causing network problems as well as unfeasibly high bills.
The BBC has worked out that he could have downloaded five million emails or 15,000 music tracks for that amount of money. Suggestions for a proper El Reg unit of data appreciated in the comments.
Massive bills like this one are always good for a laugh and three minutes of fame on a consumer show. More worrying is the idea that similar faults might be lurking in other handsets, contributing a few hundred megabytes to every month's bill, indistinguishable from the usual app-driven traffic. ®