I saw on Twitter the story of a parent anguished by their child’s overspending on a phone contract, racking up a surprising pre-Christmas bill.
Actually, it was more about the anguish caused by the phone provider refusing to cap the contract and help out parents.
I’ve been through this myself on more than one occasion, discovering that a previous contract supplier had been taking my money without letting me know that one of my children – who shall remain nameless, but I expect a cup of tea when I get in today and another abject apology – had overspent for three months in a row, incurring bills of an additional £20, £30 and £50.
Yes, I should have checked my bank balance more thoroughly and spotted this, but I didn’t.
At the risk of sounding like an old git – because I am one – I distinctly remember as a teenager having to pluck up the nerve to ask my parents if I could use the phone.
Then my father would stand over me if it seemed as if I was going to go over the 2p charge.
If anyone lived within a mile radius, I had to get on my bike and go and see them in person.
And worse, I had to explain to my parents what my call was to be about, to make sure that it was worth the cost.
Homework was, dating wasn’t. And neither were hair disasters, advice on squeezing blackheads or the latest news on Simon Le Bon deemed as acceptable spend.
How would a teenager of today cope with trying to wrangle permission to send a witty ‘lol’ text?
I put an end to the guilty child’s contract pretty quickly and got us all a supplier who cuts the phone off when the contract minutes, data download or texts are up.
Well, almost immediately – after a £2.50 buffer zone.
I’ve fallen foul of it once or twice, but haven’t we all?
And yes, I am now with a supermarket provider, I don’t get free cinema tickets and there’s no chance of me winning a balloon ride.
But you know what? I’m now the one who is ‘lol’ing all the way to the bank.