Man Downloads TV Shows and Gets a $54,000 Cell Phone Bill

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A man who went on a TV show downloading spree after misunderstanding the terms of his cellphone contract has been hit with a bill for $54,000. The factory worker, 29, who fears being made bankrupt said: "I just laughed out loud. How on earth could I afford to pay that?" A loan, maybe? Santa?


Most people know that downloading TV shows doesn’t usually cost anything when you get them using BitTorrent.

However, Ian Simpson, a 29 year old factory worker found a way to make them cost – lots. After taking out a cell phone contract which he thought included ‘unlimited’ internet use (albeit with a ‘fair use’ clause), he got some advice from a friend who showed him how to connect his cell phone to his laptop.

According to a Stewart Maclean report in the UK’s Daily Mirror, Simpson said: “My mate told me how to wire my mobile to my laptop as a modem. It meant I could download faster than on the handset and get a proper internet connection in my flat.”

However, after downloading TV shows for a month, Simpson’s service was disconnected: “I probably downloaded 20 or 30 TV shows and four albums” he said. “I assumed it’d be OK, but they cut me off. I rang up and they said I owed them nearly £30,000.”

“If I’d known it would cost so much I wouldn’t have done it” he added.

A spokesman for the cellphone company, Vodafone in the UK said: “Few customers exceed the fair usage. But it seems clear Ian has run up these charges legitimately. The rules are clearly stated. Mobile web pages use fewer megabytes. That package is not designed for large-scale downloading or computer-speed web use.”

Simpson, who claims he can only afford to rent a room in which to live, lives in hope that the company will go easy on him: “Unless they take a sensible approach I don’t think I’ll have any choice but to go bankrupt.” he said.

Luckily for him it seems that Vodafone will “try to come to some sympathetic arrangement” despite being taken unawares by “the intensity of Ian’s downloading”. Intensity. On a cell phone. What a guy.

Always check the small print ;)


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