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Holidaymaker gets £31k data roaming bill

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Another jet-setting TV addict has fallen foul of unreasonable roaming fees, this time to the tune of £31,500, just to get their TV fix - just as the EU considers how best to curtail the operators' roaming rates.

The chap concerned was on holiday in Portugal when he decided to forgo the local sights and download an episode of the TV drama Prison Break, along with a few music tracks, and was stunned to get a bill for £31,500 on his return.

The connection was with Yes Telecom, the small-business arm of Vodafone. While we might deride someone who failed to read the small print on their contract, 30 grand does seem a high price to pay for a bit of telly.

The chap, identified by the Manchester Evening News as Iayn Dobson, 34, contested the bill and Vodafone eventually agreed to settle for £229 - the amount Mr Dobson would have had to pay to use the same quantity of data at home.

At least Dobson appears to exist: last time this happened Vodafone told us that our story contained "many factual inaccuracies" and promised to give us the details when they could. It was only after months of chasing that they admitted they were never going to provide those details - citing customer confidentiality.

Coincidentally, UK operator 3 has just decided to switch off international roaming for 3 Broadband customers on a contract, so anyone with a 3 dongle on their laptop will have to give the company a bell before travelling abroad, and even then will have the option of having their use capped. 3 reckons the high prices aren't their fault, as they're obliged to pay what the roamed-to network charges - £14.50 a MB in one example - and are hoping the EU will be able to do something about that.

The decision on whether the EU should impose a cap is expected, from EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding, real soon now, so using data abroad should get cheaper all round, even if everything else gets more expensive. ®

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