Schoolgirl racks up £3,800 mobile bill on New York holiday through continuous Facebook updates

Yahoo! News

A schoolgirl ran up a £3,800 mobile phone bill on holiday in America by posting Facebook updates.

Casey Snook, 14, used the website to post updates about her dream holiday to New York with her mum.

She eagerly told friends about her trip to the Empire State Building, Central Park and Times Square and uploaded a series of pictures with her iPhone.

But she was unaware of the massive bill until her father's bank account - which funded the phone - suddenly went overdrawn after the holiday.

Phone company Orange said she ran up the charges by using Facebook with data roaming - a service which enables internet access abroad.

Mrs Snook, 43, a catering assistant, accused the company of 'extortion'.

She said: 'When I heard about it I felt physically sick. Casey was very upset and embarrassed and I was in tears.

'I can't believe that a company would let a bill which is usually £50 get up to that level.  Did they not worry the phone had been stolen?

'She was only using it for the normal teenage stuff, updating her friends with what she was up to and this and that.

[Brits could face mobile roaming shocks 'because they don't know which countries are in EU]

'It was an experience - we visited the Empire State Building, Central Park, Times Square, Grand Central Station and the Whispering Wall.  She was just using Facebook like a normal teenager to tell her friends.'

Casey, of Hengrove, Bristol, jetted off to the Big Apple with her mum on May 27.

Four days into the trip the teenager received a text from Orange warning she had gone over her internet data limit - and her bill had gone from its usual £50 to £320.

The company barred the teen from sending any more text messages or making calls - but did not block her data roaming.

Mrs Snook told Casey to stop using her phone until they returned to the UK in two days time.

But once the family returned home Mrs Snook received a phone call from Casey's dad Victor, who pays the bill, to say his bank had told him he was overdrawn.

[Compare mobile phone tariffs on Yahoo!] 

Orange insists it sent a number of warning texts to Casey to say she had exceeded her data usage.

The firm also says it sent a message to Casey asking if she wanted to continue to use data after she had gone over her limit - and she clicked 'yes'.

But her parents are calling for an explanation as to why no further warnings were sent after the text message explaining the bill would be £320.

Mrs Snook said her daughter does not remember this, and believes many people would not understand the implications of continuing to use their phone.

'To be honest, I wouldn't understand what a data cap was, and I don't think a lot of teenagers would,' she said.

'This is about the extortion of a 14-year-old, and Orange is completely refusing to budge on the bill.

[Related: New cap for mobile phone roaming charges]

'The rates that are charged are ridiculous and I just don't understand why another message wasn't sent after the one that said the bill had reached £320. Why wasn't one sent at £500 or £1,000?

'We are just going to have to pay it. I'm going to give her dad half of the money, but neither of us can afford it.'

A spokeswoman for Orange said: 'All Orange customers have a number of protections in place - customers are even automatically opted-in to a roaming data cap, which limits their charges to £49 for a set amount of data.

'Customers receive warning texts to alert them of their data usage and we have an app that helps them monitor data usage, and opt-in to a data bundle if needed.

'In this instance the customer received numerous text alerts which updated them on the roaming costs for the USA, and also updated them on their data usage.

'Once they had reached the limit of their data bundle, the customer actively opted out of our roaming data cap so that they could continue to use data, effectively removing the in-built protection from large data roaming bills.'