A factory worker who used his mobile phone as a modem to download TV shows to his laptop is facing bankruptcy after running up a £27,322 bill in just four weeks.
Ian Simpson, from Darlington, downloaded between 20 and 30 programmes and four albums in the mistaken belief that his £41.50-a-month Vodafone package included unlimited internet use.
The Vodafone Anytime 800 bill included hundreds of extra charges for internet access, some at up to £18 a minute.
"My mate told me how to wire my mobile to my laptop as a modem. It meant I could download faster than on the handset and get a proper internet connection in my flat," said Simspon. "If I'd known it would cost so much, I wouldn't have done it."
Simpson claimed that he faces bankruptcy if he is forced to pay the full bill. "I can't even afford a mortgage, so I rent a room. Unless they take a sensible approach, I don't think I'll have any choice but to go bankrupt."
A Vodafone spokesman said that the company would try to come to a " sympathetic agreement" with Simpson, but warned that the terms and conditions of its contract were transparent.
"We have some sympathy and we will try and come to some arrangement with Mr Simpson over the bill," a Vodafone spokesman told The Northern Echo.
"But the instructions are clear on the contract as to what the tariff includes. Our advice would be never to use a mobile as a modem.
"Few customers exceed the fair usage. But it seems clear that Mr Simpson has run up these charges legitimately.
"The rules are clearly stated. Mobile web pages use fewer megabytes. That package is not designed for large-scale downloading or computer-speed web use."
Last month a Canadian oil worker made headlines around the world after running up a bill for $85,000 (£41,000) after similarly using his handset as a modem for his PC.
Double legal trouble for Musk as he also faces civil lawsuit over renewed British pot-holer 'paedo' claims
Battery development could help boost performance of smartphones
Topological photonic chips promise a more robust option for scalable quantum computers
In quantum physics both the chicken and the egg can come first, claim University of Queensland researchers
Cause-and-effect is not always straightforward in quantum physics