£3,000 SpongeBob SquarePants mobile bill

11 September 2015

spongebob-squarepants Dear parents - before we start, can you please stop letting your children play on your phones? Yes, we understand they can be a pain and mither you to play with your phones and tablets, but they keep pressing buttons which cost you a lot of money.

There's a widespread problem where children are racking up huge mobile bills for their parents while playing games and streaming videos. In the latest of a long line of incidents like this, a chap called Conan Sturdy (really?) was hit with a £3,000 bill from BT.

Sturdy hit his business account’s data allowance for the month, and then was charged 50p per megabyte. Six episodes of SpongeBob later, and his bill got hefty.

He said: "One afternoon it was pretty miserable so I let him watch SpongeBob SquarePants on Netflix – it was an afternoon’s worth. I thought there’d be a charge – maybe £30 or £40 – as I received a text saying I had gone over. A charge is one thing but £600 per gig is another. I had no idea that the bill could be so high."

That all said, you'd hope that BT would have things in place that would stop people from getting bills that ran into the thousands.

It is worth noting that, if you get a text alert saying that you're about to reach your limit, a lot of companies will stop you from using any data until you buy more. However, there's a good few that don't, and that's when things get expensive.

Sturdy added: "I took my son on a quick and cheap, £7-a-night camping holiday and I end up owing thousands. I’ve complained to BT that this is just an unreasonable amount and they have at least put payment on hold while they look into my complaint. I am self-employed and I don’t have the money to pay this bill."

Reading your terms and conditions helps, but often, it is difficult to see just how much a company will charge you for going over your limit. When in doubt, don't use your data if you've gone over your limit and certainly try and avoid doing anything that hogs data like streaming videos.

Companies need to make these things clear when you're buying your contract also. Meanwhile, buy your child a colouring book and some felt-tips, just in case.

TOPICS:   Mobile   Complaints


  • bill
    It really annoys me when people feel like they are an exception to the rules and shouldnt pay for what theyve used. As is becoming very common in the world of mobiles and tablets. Personally I wouldnt even be happy to pay the £40 mentioned for a few eps of spongebob, my kid would go without. If they wanted entertainment on a holiday I'd expect it to be a social environment with plenty of other kids around to play with, and stuff to do... just give them a football, pack of card or something. What's the point in going camping if youre not going to encourage to get your child our and away from the luxuries of home. And if you're too cheap to take your child to a park that has a entertainment, kids club, kids play area etc and insist upon them having luxuries like on demand tv then of course you should pay for the privilege. And as to the cost, a normal person would have checked that prior, or at least after receiving the warning text. Next time take a portable dvd player, or have the programs pre-saved onto your devices memory.
  • mark w.
    Hey HMRC, have a look at this guy's accounts! He just might have forgotten to separate out his personal use of his business mobile when claiming expenses.
  • Wii
    I agree that mobile data charges are often excessive, such is the case with most networks. However this is highly publicized and I should think anybody who glances at a paper or news site on occasion would be aware of the warnings and horror stories by now. I have doubts that somebody who knows to use netflix on their tablet could be so mis-informed about the cost of data for a 4+ hour constant streaming session. Take a board game next time, theres probably a spongebob out.

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