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In The Red: A trip abroad I won't be ringing home about


Where does all my money go? This is a question I find myself asking more frequently than I care to reveal. The answer is usually fourfold. Not counting mortgage payments, Transport for London is the primary recipient, I think.

Then, probably, the Independent's canteen, which pockets the cost of my three (sometimes four) peppermint teas a day, plus the bottle of sparkling water I should really do without and, more often than not, the Greek salad I favour for lunch (packed lunches, out of sheer necessity, will be returning shortly). The third beneficiary is Boots, which I seem to visit at least every other day. Fourthly? A conglomeration of random cafes and bars that I like. Albion in east London does quite well out of me (Sunday brunch) as do the stalls of Broadway Market. Costcutter must make a fair bit, too, since they are on my way home from work. Amazon pockets something every now and then as does, oddly, Argos. Occasionally Topshop creeps up the list, though I do my best to stop it.

And that, broadly speaking, is it. Delineated onto a bank statement, life appears very dull indeed. I wish I spent my salary on exotic travel and flashy meals; unfortunately if I did, I wouldn't have any salary left.

This month, however, the story is rather different. By far the biggest chunk of my income is destined to T-Mobile. It hasn't actually gone yet – more on this later – but it's going. It's my fault, of course, not theirs. I was – for work reasons – abroad, and managed to leave the internet switched on. Combine that with a couple of long-distance calls and the result is a bill the magnitude of which I've never seen (I actually laughed for a minute when it arrived. And then cried. A lot.).

Initially, I assumed that it wasn't for real. A quick call revealed that it was. The call also, however, revealed that I could pay in instalments. The nice man on the phone listened through my sniffling and halted my direct debit, meaning the sums' transfer is largely up to me. I'll pay soon, of course – though spaced over a month or two. This is the most enormous relief – not least because next month I go on holiday for a week (Berlin!) and desperately want to enjoy it.

Ironically, I was on the verge of leaving T-Mobile in search of a cheaper contract, though now I certainly won't. It just shows what a difference customer service can make.