My Son Has a Huge Mobile Phone Bill. Does He Have to Pay It? – Martin


“Dear Steve,

My son is a student at the end of his first year with 6K of debt. He went on a cheap holiday to Greece recently and lost his mobile on the last day. He cancelled his direct debit foolishly thinking that this would cancel his contract. I discovered that he had lost it and had the phone barred but someone had run up a £900 bill with O2 in the few days that had elapsed.

He cannot pay this as he has no income apart from a part time job washing up in the holidays. What should he do about paying this bill? He has about £200 saved up from work this summer – should he offer to pay with this £200 in full and final settlement? We dont know what to do.. Hope you can help. We dont understand how the network could allow such a bill to mount up especially as he has never gone over his free minutes in the 12 months he has had it. Surely they have some duty of care here? Any advice would be gratefully recieved.



Dear Martin,

I’m afraid I don’t have any good news for this situation. I can tell that you are in the UK. The reality is that anywhere you live a mobile phone is the equivalent of an open credit card or line of credit. Whatever happens on that phone while contracted to the subscriber is the subscribers responsibility to pay, even if lost and not reported.

It is regrettable that your son has to learn this lesson the hard way but I’m confident this is one that he won’t forget.

If we could turn back the clock, the moment that your son discovered the mobile phone missing he would have notified O2. If he had done that, his liability for charges would have ended at that moment and he would not have this huge bill.

See also  I Came to Aussie Last Year and Can't Afford My Mobile Phone. - Johnny

I’m concerned that your son may have a residual commitment on his phone contract. Mobile phone providers, unless you are on a pay-as-you-go agreement, require subscribers to pay for monthly service through the end of the contract period. There is no early termination fee that will let you out early.

As far as the debt, you can always attempt to negotiate a settlement for less than the total bill. The provider is under no obligation to accept it so you will have to reach a mutual agreement on a less than full payment to end this mess.


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

Do you have a question you'd like to ask me for free? Go ahead and click here.

Follow Me
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
Steve Rhode
Follow Me

Leave a Comment