Incredible $13,500 iPad bill racked up as Scottish government official hit by avoidable cellular roaming charges

iPad Air with Magic Keyboard
(Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

One member of the Scottish parliament faces having to hand over almost £11,000 (around $13,500) to pay for an iPad data roaming bill that was completely avoidable.

While we don't know exactly which iPad Scotland's Health Secretary Michael Matheson was using — we're going to assume it wasn't an entry-level 10th-gen iPad and was more likely an iPad Pro — we do know that he'd been told to swap out an old SIM card a year before taking a trip to Morrocco. But for whatever reason, he didn't. And now he's quite literally paying the price.

In a situation that was entirely avoidable, and after Matheson was told he could claim the money on his monthly expenses, it's now been confirmed that he will pay the money back out of his own pocket. He's presumably now learned that the best iPad is the one that doesn't cost you thousands of dollars to read your email.

The decision to pay the money back was 'the right one'

The BBC reports that Matheson has agreed that the decision to pay the money back was "the right one in all circumstances," while he maintains that the roaming bill was for work he carried out while on his Moroccan visit. However, it's said that IT professionals who looked into the huge data expenditure stopped short of looking at exactly what he was doing to rack up such a bill.

As for how it happened, the BBC reports that "the parliament's previous mobile contract with EE came to an end in December 2021, and members were told to switch their devices across to the new contract with Vodafone." Matheson received an email urging him to switch SIM cards and it's also thought that he was spoken to in person, too. But swap SIM cards, he did not. And he's now on the hook for £11,000 as a result.

As an aside, the BBC also notes that the £11,000 bill is more than the total of all Matheson and his colleagues' communication bills combined — a figure that sat at £9,507 for the year prior.

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Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.