A British iPhone user was shocked to find he was being billed £19,000 for Internet use. Apparently he had no idea what was happening until service was cut off by his carrier, which apparently didn't conclude that something was out of whack with his usage.

But the details, as reported by the London Evening Standard online, are pretty sparse. It doesn't even mention what kind of iPhone was apparently malfunctioning.

Chris Bovis, 26, a builder in Tilbury, Essex, found his cell service was cut off. When he called his carrier, Orange, he was told that due to his high Internet usage his current bill was £8,900 and that his next bill was £10,000.

The story doesn't say whether the charges related to the volume of data (and what the data could have been, if Bovis wasn't actually doing anything) or to the number of minutes the phone was online, or both.

Bovis is quoted in the Standard as saying "his reaction was to laugh."

Presumably he stopped laughing when Orange contacted Bovis' bank and tried to collect the sum directly from his account. The "transaction was blocked," according to the report.

The Standard says that Bovis "asked for his iPhone to be switched off but it still sent and received large amounts of data." The news site doesn't make clear when he asked this, or whether the internet connection on Bovis' iPhone was active or whether he did power it off.

"Staff at an Apple store agreed that the phone was faulty and agreed to replace it but Orange said they would still be charging him a capped rate of £300," according to the Standard.

The story offers no information or even speculation on what caused the glitch, or even whether the charges were related to data volume or minutes.

"Orange has now apologised [sic] and cut his bill to zero," the Standard concluded.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World. Twitter: @johnwcoxnwwEmail: [email protected]

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