Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2002/02/19/mobile_user_charged_penalty/

Mobile user charged penalty for ‘being an arrogant bastard’

Insult to injury

By John Leyden

Posted in Bootnotes, 19th February 2002 13:09 GMT

A New Zealand Telecom customer had a rude awakening when he opened his phone bill last week to discover he'd been charged a "penalty for being an arrogant bastard".

James Storrie, from Auckland, discovered the NZ$337.50 charge (£99.95), printed under "product or service" in the "rental and activity" section of his monthly bill, the New Zealand Herald reports.

Shortly before receiving the unusual bill, Storrie had complained when his phone was disconnected after it was incorrectly reported stolen. There's also the matter of a problem with a Yellow Page advertisement for Storrie's company provoked a complaint three years ago, settled last year.

Storrie doesn't believe he has enemies at NZ Telecom - at least prior to receiving the bill, which he understandably describes as "downright rude."

If the bill was a practical joke then it misfired badly. NZ Telecom has issued a fulsome apology and paid undisclosed compensation to Storrie, who remains a customer.

NZ Telecom has launched an internal investigation into how the unorthodox "penalty" appeared of the bill, and the earlier disconnection of Storrie's mobile.

Consumers' Institute chief executive David Russell, told The New Zealand Herald, that there was no consumer law that protected someone from being called an "arrogant bastard". However the item could be viewed as defamatory, he added. ®