Pensioner topped up her phone for months and racked up £1000 balance – because she didn’t know how to make calls and thought she was charged for people calling her
A pensioner spent almost a £1,000 topping up her phone despite never making a call – because she thought she was charged for people calling HER.
Elderly Elizabeth Silk burst into tears when she realised she had spent the equivalent of almost nine weeks’ pension by putting cash on her mobile.
She put it on every time she went to buy a pint of milk – because she thought she needed credit to RECEIVE calls.
Every week retired Elizabeth, known as Libby, put extra money on her Pay As You Go mobile using a top up card – leaving the 69-year-old with the whopping balance on a Vodafone mobile she bought for just #20.
Libby has no idea how to make calls on her Siemens mobile had no idea her mobile phone company Vodafone were not charging her to receive calls, so every week when she nipped to the shops to buy bread and milk she paid #10 or #20 of her pension on the top-up card.
Her error was finally discovered by her carer, who worked out how to check her balance after learning of her secret top-up sessions.
She said: “I had no idea what I was doing was wrong. It’s an awful lot of money – I don’t even know how to make a call.”
Libby, who suffers from learning difficulties and other ailments, bought the mobile from her local market in Featherstone, W. Yorks., about two years ago and has been religiously spending her pension on topping it up every week.
Elderly Libby, who does not have any children, said: “I didn’t know I oughtn’t to have been putting money on it.
“I don’t even know how to make calls.
“I can answer the phone when it rings but that’s it – it’s my first phone and I don’t really know how to work it.”
Libby, who has no idea what texting is, is now hoping the telecoms giant will refund some of her outstanding balance, which stands at #980.75 after her carer made a call to Vodafone to complain.
Carer Kay Duggan, 53, of nearby Castleford, W. Yorks., said: “It’s a disgrace, that’s what it is.
“She cried when I told her how much money she had saved up on her phone – she doesn’t have much in her bank account.
“How on earth can Vodafone do this to poor Libby?
“She doesn’t know what she’s doing – she barely even knows how the thing works.
“Yet they’re happy to take money from her pension every week like this.”
Kay added: “I’ve used Libby’s phone a couple of times in the past, whenever mine had run out of battery, but never for very long.
“I think the longest call that was made on it was when I rang Vodafone to try to get a refund for her.”
Elderly Libby, who has help from her carer every day, now hopes that Vodafone will refund her the outstanding balance so she can go on holiday to Scarborough.
Vodafone have vowed to refund Elizabeth Silk all £980.75 she currently has in Pay As You Go balance.
The telecoms giant apologised for the highly unusual situation, which they think may be the first such case in the country.
A spokesperson said: “We were sorry to hear about Mrs Silk‘s experience.
“We understand that she misunderstood how the top ups were used and thought she had to have sufficient credits to pay for call to her phone.
“We have been in touch with her to reassure her that we will refund the sum of £980.75 to her bank account.”
Elderly Libby was over the moon to hear about her refund, because it means she can now treat herself to a lovely trip to the seaside.
She said: “I can’t believe they’re refunding the whole amount. It’s brilliant.
“It really does restore your faith in humanity.”
Carer Kay Duggan was equally pleased for her charge.
She said: “It’s refreshing that they are doing the decent thing after an innocent mistake.
“It shows that some big companies do have a heart after all.
“It’s lovely, we can’t thank them enough.”