A controversial blogger and business owner has said he was “absolutely gobsmacked” to receive a bill for more than €3,500 in mobile phone roaming charges after he returned from the US last week, writes Kelly O’Brien.
Paul Stenson, the man behind popular snapchat account The White Moose Café, said he was on holidays recently in New York City, where he was busy uploading pictures and videos for his tens of thousands of followers back home.
In doing so, however, he was unknowingly racking up thousands of euro in roaming fees.
The blogger, who also runs Dublin businesses The White Moose Café and Charleville Lodge Hotel, has hit out at mobile phone provider eir, saying the company didn’t notify him of the huge charges that were accumulating.
He said he received only two text messages from the provider about charges accruing, telling him he had been charged two separate amounts of €48.
“At no point did they tell me I was racking up such a huge cost. They told me about the €48 charges, which I could get over, but they failed to tell me it would be anything as astronomical as three grand,” said Paul.
“I emailed them about the issue when I got the bill this week and saw how much it was, but they still haven’t gotten back to me.”
When contacted by the media, however, the provider issued a press statement about the situation. They said standard practice dictates customers on roaming receive warning messages via texts as they incur costs.
“We are vigilant in informing customers of our roaming charges and notifying users at every stage of the process. Customers who decline to be informed of these charges do so at their own risk,” reads the statement.
“In the case of Paul Stenson, eir will not be waiving his roaming charges, which were accrued while he was travelling in the US. eir notified Mr Stenson at regular intervals of the charges as they were accruing, but he chose to opt out of these notifications. This left him with no visibility of the amount he was spending while using his data. Mr Stenson continued to use this service after he decided he no longer wanted to be notified of charges.”
Paul, however, maintains that at no point did he opt out of any notifications.
“I no more opted out of the notifications than I developed wings to actually fly to New York and back myself. I didn’t opt out, and that’s why I did have visibility of the fact that I was charged €48 a number of times, not three and a half grand,” he said.
“It is eir’s fault that I wasn’t notified that I had spent this. Most importantly I’m asking eir to prove that I opted out of notifications, because I didn’t.”
When asked about this, eir said they could not share such proof due to data protection reasons. They reiterated the claim that Paul opted out of notifications, saying he did this on March 23.
Paul, however, said March 23 was the day he flew home from New York.
Within the last two days, the blogger has taken to social media to highlight the controversy. On the recommendation of some of his followers, he set up a fundraising account to see if he could crowdsource the money for the charges. More than €4,000 was raised within the first 24 hours.
While Paul said he is “incredibly grateful” to his followers for their generosity, he said he would much rather donate the money to charity. He once again called on eir to waive their charges, considering he was not notified of them, and that if they did he would donate the entire sum to Crumlin Children’s Hospital instead.
At the time of going to print, however, eir had refused this offer.
“Should Mr Stenson decide to go ahead with his charitable donation, as expected by many of his supporters, we are sure it would be appreciated by Crumlin Children’s Hospital,” they said.
“eir has an existing CSR policy which delivers significant benefits to various charities across Ireland. One example of this is the eir Fund, which allocates €160,000 each year to Irish charities until 2019.”