Incurring charges on lost or stolen phones
August 13, 2010 6:43 AM   Subscribe

Stolen/Lost Phone and charges incurred upon it (£700) - what are the options? Anyone had any experience of this? (Vodafone, UK)

A friend (no honestly!) recently found themselves phoneless after a night out - it having been either lost or lifted the night before. Upon realising this the next morning (at about 10am), he immediately contacted Vodafone and informed them of this so they could bar the phone.

Unfortunately, his bill has now arrived and it appears that whoever ended up in possession of the phone promptly used it to rack up about £700-worth of call charges to Algeria, France and Spain (the numbers and associated costs of those are listed). Some of those calls are before he reported it missing, some are after the report had been made.

Naturally his first reaction was to contact Vodafone about this. The response of their customer service desk:

"Sorry, you're liable for it all. We'll give you a 25% discount and three months to pay."

We're now hitting Google to try and find out the extent of his obligations, as well as contacting Ofcom and there will no doubt be further discussions with Vodafone itself, but I thought it was worth asking if anyone here had any experience of this or advice as to how to proceed.

Obviously I searched before posting, but most previous coverage of this subject I could find (as with information on the Internet in general) has been focussed on US carriers and this is a UK issue.

Additional info that may be of use:

1) He's been with Vodafone for 6 years
2) All the calls were outside his behavioural profile (generally £40 to Algeria and a 2hr £140 call to France). His last call abroad was approximately 3 years ago.
posted by garius to Technology (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is the phone insured? Most insurance packages have coverage for calls made after a theft. Mine is for up to £500.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:09 AM on August 13, 2010

Oh, and quite often your credit card (and some bank accounts) will have insurance against this sort of thing built in (usually only if you register the phone with them though).
posted by Happy Dave at 7:16 AM on August 13, 2010

We're now hitting Google to try and find out the extent of his obligations,

According to the Vodaphone site:

What costs will I incur if my phone is lost or stolen?
Monthly / Business

You will be charged for all calls made on your phone until you contact us and we place a bar on the phone.

Presumably your friend signed a contract that also states this. In which case he is probably screwed. Still worth contacting Ofcom to see if this policy is outside their guidelines though. Maybe call up Vodaphone again and try to haggle a larger discount than 25% and/or a payment plan? Most companies are happy to set up a multi-year payment plan if you tell them "I don't mind paying but there is no way I can shell out £550 right now as I literally do not have that much money. How about £10/month for 55 months? That's all I can afford."
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:39 AM on August 13, 2010

There is no way your friend is liable for calls made after he informed Vodafone of the loss of his phone, assuming he told them that he believed it had been stolen.

I'm afraid he's almost certainly liable for all calls made up to that point however. This is a very good reason to have a PAYG phone.
posted by pharm at 11:22 AM on August 13, 2010

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