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  1. Technology
September 10, 2014

5 organisations running the risk of a major “bill shock”

Who might want to be checking their bills more closely?

By Vinod

We’ve all experience the terror of a slightly over-large phone bill, whether it be going over your data limits during a YouTube binge or accidentally calling home when on holiday. Recent research found that over half of UK customers on certain networks have suffered such a shock, with the average cost a pocket-shaking £213.

Barely a week seems to go by without reports on some poor customer running up a massive bill, but which companies could be at risk from similarly large costs? Here are five organisations we think should keep a careful eye on their employee’s usage…



If James Bond is anything to go by, Britain’s spies are a globe-trotting lot, constantly jetting off to far-flung locations like Siberia or remote Caribbean islands, but yet always managing to stay in touch with HQ back home.

This may be due to futuristic communications technology, but we prefer to think that MI5’s boys are on super-flexible mobile contracts which allow them to call home from multiple locations – much like the offerings from Truphone, whose Truphone World service lets customers use their device in 66 countries across five continents.

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The British Government

Government spending is always a tricky subject to address, as the new era of austerity still means cuts are being made throughout a wide variety of departments. But when it comes to mobile devices, MPs and other politicians must surely come fairly high in the usage rankings.

A debate a few years back ensured that MPs were allowed to use social media inside the House of Commons as more and more of them turned to the likes of Twitter to better connect with the public.

As has been well documented over the past few years, the salaries and perks of being an MP are heavily subsidised by the government (and the taxpayer) so it would be no surprise if their phone bills, heightened by severe bouts of BlackBerry usage, have also been passed on.




Every child dreams of being an astronaut, escaping the bounds of Earth to head into space. But communications are a crucial part of ensuring a successful space mission, as the crew need to stay in touch with mission control on the ground to make sure everything is running smoothly.

But what about the astronauts themselves? Orbiting around the planet every 90 minutes gives plenty of opportunities for epic selfies – but who will pick up the bill for tweeting astronauts?

Last year, the internet was in uproar following a story that guitar-playing Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield had been hit with a $1.37m phone bill upon his return from the International Space Station due to his love of Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. Although the story was later revealed to be a hoax, NASA will not want to get stung to badly – maybe they can get in touch with space travel fan Richard Branson for some cut-price Virgin Media tariffs?



We at CBR know from first-hand experience how much journalists rely on their mobile devices in order to stay in contact and up to date with breaking news both in the office and on the move. But what happens to the phone bills of Britain’s most respected journalistic institution? The BBC has offices and correspondents around the world, not to mention the huge team in the UK being dispatched out to cover breaking or important news in the country.

The cost of keeping these field reporters updated, and conversely of the content they phone or send in, will surely lead to large data bills incurred on the BBC’s part.

It’s not just the financial effects either – earlier this year, the corporation’s political editor, Nick Robinson, made headlines for once by losing his mobile phone, containing personal contacts including the details of David Cameron.


British Airways

As we said, holidaying abroad is often the most common cause of bill shock, but does this also apply to the people responsible for getting you to your destination? Pilots and air staff rack up the miles every week, often with a break or overnight stay in a foreign country, meaning that again, a multi-country mobile plan would help minimise the risk of bill shock for BA workers, especially as the airline flies to destinations around the world.

Since the company recently announced it would be allowing the use of mobile and tablet devices during flights, we hope that they have conquered the risk of possible bill shocks.

And remember when Ryanair banned its staff from charging their phones while at work…now that’s a lean operation!


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