A mum was horrified when she was slapped with a £1,158 bill from Orange after her teenage daughter voted for ‘I’m a Celebrity’ star Lucy Pargeter – a whopping 2,000 TIMES.
Superfan Nicole Hassall, 18, racked up the huge bill in just six hours as she bid to keep her idol in the jungle.
The teenager made a staggering 2,316 calls to the ITV show’s 50p premium rate number in support of the Emmerdale star – unaware her phone bill would sky-rocket as a result.
Now devastated mum Eileen, 62, has been forced to use £250 earmarked for Nicole’s Christmas presents to pay off the steep charges.
She warned parents to be vigilant if their kids become hooked on primetime TV shows which encourage viewers to vote.
She said network provider Orange did not notify them until Saturday morning that Nicole had logged so many calls after
Wednesday night’s edition of the show.
Account holder Eileen first received a text warning her of a £350 bill, shortly followed by a further message which put the amount at £621.
Furious Eileen rang Orange only to be told the actual amount was an eye-watering £1,158.
Yesterday, the mum, from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs., called for tighter controls on dialling premium-rate numbers from mobiles and questioned how her daughter was able to rack up such a huge bill.
She said: “It just kept going up and up.
“She had no idea what she was doing.
“Her phone said she still had minutes and texts left.
“I’m questioning that she could have made that many calls.
“We watched the show together and then went to bed.
“I didn’t think anything of it until three days later we got this text saying my bill was higher than normal.
“It’s absolutely disgusting that Orange didn’t let me know what was happening.
“It’s completely out of the ordinary.
“She’s never done this before.
“There’s no way I’ll be able to pay this.”
Nicole, who has mild learning difficulties, said she was unaware the bill would be so high as she voted for Lucy to stay in the jungle.
She said: “I did vote but I really wanted Lucy or Kian from Westlife to win.
“I had no idea the bill would be this much.
“I’m really upset.”
Orange said it took measures to avoid high charges but had waived half of the outstanding £908 bill.
A spokesman added: “We sympathise with Ms Hassall and have offered a 50 per cent reduction on her bill as a gesture of goodwill.
“To help customers avoid high charges from voting lines we terminated each of the calls after six seconds.
“However, as the customer in this instance continued to call the number for several hours additional charges were incurred.”
An ITV spokesman said: “In the voting terms and conditions it says voters should only vote with the bill payer’s permission. We are happy to explore this issue if we are provided with more information.”
Lucy Pargeter, who plays Chastity ‘Chas’ Dingle in the ITV soap, came third in this year’s series.
She surprised viewers by beating TOWIE star Joey Essex – who was a hot favourite to win at the start of the show.