My phone was stolen in Spain and the bill was £3,000

Echo: Louis Martin with his bill Louis Martin with his bill

A MAN was ordered to settle a £3,000 mobile phone bill despite it being racked up by the thief who stole it.

Louis Martin, 19, from Station Road, Leigh, was  chased by debt collectors working for Vodafone, despite the mobile being stolen.

But after his story appeared in the print edition of yesterday's Echo, Vodafone offered to cancel the charge.

Louis had his phone pinched while on holiday in Barcelona and reported it to the company within 24 hours.

He cancelled a direct debit with Vodafone, but was still bombarded with messages from debt collectors urging him to pay the bill.

Louis, who works in a call centre, said: “I was out with my girlfriend in Barcelona.

"One night a man came up to us and said he was there on his own and was meeting his friends later, so could he have a drink with us.

“He bought us loads of drinks and the next thing we knew he’d disappeared with our phones.”

Mr Martin got bar staff to call his phone – but they couldn’t get through.

He added: “At first I was most worried about our boarding passes because they were saved on my phone.

“At the hotel there were power problems at first and I couldn’t get online, but I did tell Vodafone within 24 hours and they cut my phone off.

It wasn’t until a couple of weeks later, when he visited the Vodafone shop in Southend High Street, that he was told he had £3,000 outstanding on his bill – thanks to the thief.

Not having the money to pay, he cancelled his direct debit with the company, but was soon receiving calls and letters from debt collectors demanding that he pay the outstanding amount.

He said: “They are saying the bill is going to go up if I don’t pay it soon and they want £1,000 a month – I’m 19, I just don’t have that kind of money.

“I tried to explain it to Vodafone on their helpline, but they’ve just fobbed me off.

“They said they’d get back to me, but they just don’t.”

But a Vodafone spokeswoman said yesterday: "If someone steals or finds your phone, they will start to use it as soon as possible, and it’s easy for a thief to build up high call charges in a very short time. So we ask our customers to report the loss or theft as soon as possible.

"The customer is responsible for charges up to the point they report it to us.

"However, we have looked again at Mr Martin’s account and it seems that rather than a straightforward case of fraudulent usage, this could be part of an organised scam. 

"On that basis, we have waived all the charges.  We’re sorry that we missed this initially, but it is an extremely rare occurrence."

Comments (6)

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2:04pm Wed 22 Jan 14

supermadmax says...

Good excuse to avoid payment, vodaphone will never liaise with the Spanish police. Sounds to me that he spent to much calling the uk from abroad and vodaphone backed down for pr purposes.
Good excuse to avoid payment, vodaphone will never liaise with the Spanish police. Sounds to me that he spent to much calling the uk from abroad and vodaphone backed down for pr purposes. supermadmax
  • Score: -22

2:24pm Wed 22 Jan 14

DogsMessInLeigh says...

int roaming is a killer also, people do not realise that when they take their smart phones abroad how much data it eats if its not set up right they just want to update farcebook all the time letting people know they just f4rted or had a all day english fry up or something or other and just gas to their mates back home, and why oh why do people sit at a table and leave them on display, next time take a £9.99 basic one with a PAYG sim...better still leave it at home your on holiday.
int roaming is a killer also, people do not realise that when they take their smart phones abroad how much data it eats if its not set up right they just want to update farcebook all the time letting people know they just f4rted or had a all day english fry up or something or other and just gas to their mates back home, and why oh why do people sit at a table and leave them on display, next time take a £9.99 basic one with a PAYG sim...better still leave it at home your on holiday. DogsMessInLeigh
  • Score: 6

2:57pm Wed 22 Jan 14

ColonelSpiffSpaff says...

supermadmax wrote:
Good excuse to avoid payment, vodaphone will never liaise with the Spanish police. Sounds to me that he spent to much calling the uk from abroad and vodaphone backed down for pr purposes.
Even though he reported it stolen within 24 hours? I think the phone company would have noticed if all the calls where to numbers he called before he went abroad. They know when a theft is genuine as they ring bogus premium rate numbers in europe & the middle east
[quote][p][bold]supermadmax[/bold] wrote: Good excuse to avoid payment, vodaphone will never liaise with the Spanish police. Sounds to me that he spent to much calling the uk from abroad and vodaphone backed down for pr purposes.[/p][/quote]Even though he reported it stolen within 24 hours? I think the phone company would have noticed if all the calls where to numbers he called before he went abroad. They know when a theft is genuine as they ring bogus premium rate numbers in europe & the middle east ColonelSpiffSpaff
  • Score: 14

3:14pm Wed 22 Jan 14

supermadmax says...

ColonelSpiffSpaff wrote:
supermadmax wrote:
Good excuse to avoid payment, vodaphone will never liaise with the Spanish police. Sounds to me that he spent to much calling the uk from abroad and vodaphone backed down for pr purposes.
Even though he reported it stolen within 24 hours? I think the phone company would have noticed if all the calls where to numbers he called before he went abroad. They know when a theft is genuine as they ring bogus premium rate numbers in europe & the middle east
"I think the phone company would have noticed if all the calls where to numbers he called before he went abroad"

Thats why they didn't want to pay out..

"Even though he reported it stolen within 24 hours"

Any evidence ie crime number?

I'm confident the story would have mentioned it is was to a premium rate
[quote][p][bold]ColonelSpiffSpaff[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]supermadmax[/bold] wrote: Good excuse to avoid payment, vodaphone will never liaise with the Spanish police. Sounds to me that he spent to much calling the uk from abroad and vodaphone backed down for pr purposes.[/p][/quote]Even though he reported it stolen within 24 hours? I think the phone company would have noticed if all the calls where to numbers he called before he went abroad. They know when a theft is genuine as they ring bogus premium rate numbers in europe & the middle east[/p][/quote]"I think the phone company would have noticed if all the calls where to numbers he called before he went abroad" Thats why they didn't want to pay out.. "Even though he reported it stolen within 24 hours" Any evidence ie crime number? I'm confident the story would have mentioned it is was to a premium rate supermadmax
  • Score: -14

4:07pm Wed 22 Jan 14

DogsMessInLeigh says...

somethings wrong here...he is holding his phone.
somethings wrong here...he is holding his phone. DogsMessInLeigh
  • Score: 4

6:08pm Wed 22 Jan 14

Been there got the T shirt says...

Phone stolen abroad, ? oh that old chestnut ....
Phone stolen abroad, ? oh that old chestnut .... Been there got the T shirt
  • Score: -4

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