I immediately called Orange to find out what on earth was going on, and discovered that, for the past two years, I'd unwittingly spent a grand total of £232.50 on mobile phone gaming and weekly horoscope/ "love match" updates... None of which I'd ever received, seen or used.
Apparently in order to have been stealth-billed this extortionate amount of money I'd have needed to sign up for the service, provide all my details, and then counter-sign some kind of "are you sure this is a product you want?" document. This is all, of course, deeply unlikely and somewhat troubling. Plainly if I DID sign up for weekly horoscope and love match updates, I did so utterly inadvertently, which implies I thought I was doing something else; probably attempting to stop them from sending any more unwanted texts to me. I can only think that this company must be incredibly sneaky in their practices and feel like I've been well and truly screwed over.
Obviously I kicked up merry hell, first with Orange, and then with the company themselves, and have been given a "good will" refund of the full amount, but the whole business has left a terrible taste in my mouth.
I don't think many of us go through mobile phone bills with a fine-tooth comb, and I'm embarrassed (like a little old man) to discover that the best part of £250 has been deducted from my phone bill without my noticing. This really is the new scammers' frontier.
So what's the moral of this story? Firstly, be very careful which buttons you press when you're trying to get rid of unwanted screens flashing up on your iPhone. Secondly, when you receive unwanted text messages from companies urging you to "click here to unsubscribe," don't immediately ignore them as spam. If it says unsubscribe... Unsubscribe! And if in doubt, contact your mobile phone provider. Thirdly, check your bills regularly and make sure you can account for everything. Don't do what I do, and assume your mobile phone company will get everything right. Fourthly, it's never too late to get a refund, so if you realise that something somewhat untoward has happened, immediately report it, and know your rights! Demand a "good will" refund. If my experience is anything to go by, you won't have to try that hard.
There. Now go check your phone bills!