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Student racks up £8000 mobile broadband bill

Overseas dongle use warning

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Orange has hit a student with a bill for almost eight grand for using a 3G dongle in France for a month.

The salutary story of William Harrison, 22, now in his third year a Nottingham University, was told in this weekend's Observer newspaper.

Last summer, Harrison signed up for Orange dongle so he would have internet access while working on an internship in Paris.

He maintains that while the Orange shop assistant admitted there was a 3GB data limit on the dongle, she said would be sufficient for his needs.

Maybe it would have been for a little casual emailing and web surfing, but Harrison used his dongle daily, primarily to make calls with Skype, the paper reports.

The upshot: sufficient overseas data usage to rack up the £6101.56 that appeared at the end of his first monthly bill.

A stunned Harrison contacted Orange and told them to block use of the dongle. It did, but not before he'd managed to rack up a further £1547.21 - the charge for using the dongle between the first bill's cut-off point and when Harrison actually received the bill.

Harrison maintains he was not warned about the financial risks of over-using his dongle while overseas.

Orange and O2 both charge £3 per megabyte of data transferred while roaming in Europe. T-Mobile charges £1.50 per megabyte, Three £1.25. Virgin Media charges £5 per megabyte, though it has now introduced cheaper pre-pay data packages. Vodafone charges £10 for every 50MB, or part, you use. So download a 52MB files and it'll bill you £20.

Orange has since agreed to halve Harrison's bill, and has generously given the student two years to pay off the debt.

From 1 March, European carriers will be forced to implement a download limit agreed with the customer to prevent people like Harrison - and the many others who have experienced similar 'bill shock' - from being hit with huge, unexpected invoices. By July, this limit must be capped at €50 (£44) per month. ®

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