A few days’ holiday in the Dominican Republic have landed an Avignon (France) estate agent with a bill for nearly €78,000 roaming charges – and seen his telecoms operator, Bouygues, cut his business phone lines.
In an article published in Connexion (France’s English Language Newspaper), Vincent Lahousse claimed he and his family had not made any calls, just sent a few texts and photos to friends – although he admitted his daughter used Facebook and Snapchat – but Bouygues Télécom said he had used 24Gb in roaming downloads and that added up to a total bill of €77,686.20.
When he challenged the bill with Bouygues – wanting to know why his €50 a month contract had rocketed – they offered to cut it to €20,000 as that was what the local Caribbean operator had charged them. Mr Lahousse said that showed the profit Bouygues was making off the calls.
However, Bouygues also responded by cutting off his five business phone lines for five days meaning no one could get in touch.
Mr Lahousse’s lawyer, Olivier Collion, told the paper that other operators such as Orange and SFR automatically cut clients’ data roaming if they exceed set limits and he demanded to know why Bouygues had not done the same.
He added that the €77,686 bill was “1,553 times his normal bill – that makes an expensive holiday! How on earth do you download 24GB?”
Mr Collion said “He had a €50 contract and the data download is going mad and Bouygues says nothing? How does that happen?”
His client would not be paying the “unfathomable” sum and he was taking Bouygyues to court.
The European Roaming regulation No 531/2012 limits roaming charges both inside and outside the EU. The europa.eu website spells it out: “To protect you against excessive data roaming bills, the volume of downloaded data on your mobile device is capped, worldwide, at €50 (or the equivalent in another currency), unless you have agreed to a different limit with your operator. You will also receive a warning when you reach 80 percent of this agreed limit.”
For Mr Lahousse, the 24GB download represents three full length films on his phone at Blue-ray quality.
This article first appeared on Connexion – France’s English Language Newspaper