Orange cancels couple’s shock £163,000 mobile bill

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Case to be screened on BBC’s Watchdog programme tonight, detailing how Alan and Carolyn Mazkouri battled for months to get the mistaken debt cleared by the operator 

Orange is refunding a couple who mistakenly received a mobile phone bill of £163,178.86, as well as paying them compensation of £250. The case will be detailed on BBC’s Watchdog television programme tonight.

Alan and Carolyn Mazkouri from Swansea had a business deal with Orange for 10 phones over the course of 15 years. They tell the programme they normally received a bill of £300 a month, before the shock charge came in September.

Last summer, Mr Mazkouri contacted Orange to say his handset was overheating. The phone was replaced by the shop he bought it at. Shortly afterwards, Orange cut off the phone which it said was a result of a large bill on the account.

The bill suggested Mr Mazkouri’s phone had downloaded data by dialling up the internet every 20 minutes for three weeks. The amount of data used was the same as downloading more than five million emails or 15,000 songs.

On tonight’s programme, Mr Mazkouri describes himself as a “technophobe” who finds it difficult to send text messages, and was “dumbfounded” by the alleged amount of data downloaded.

He adds that Orange agreed to cancel the bill, but then continued to send him bills for more than seven months. Mr Mazkouri said he had become frustrated in his attempts to contact Orange, and had contacted a solicitor to do the same. He describes the ordeal as “absolute misery”.

An Orange spokesperson said: “We apologise to the Mazkouri’s for the inconvenience. We have fully refunded the charges from this exceptionally high bill and offered a further gesture of goodwill. We look forward to hearing from them.”

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