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The $2000 cellphone bill
Old 10-06-2010, 01:53 PM   #1
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The $2000 cellphone bill

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Oct. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Liz Szalay said she was shocked when she saw her 14-year-old sons phone bill. Because he didnt have a $30 data plan as part of his Verizon Wireless contract, hed run up charges of $2,000 over two months for downloading songs.
I would never have allowed my son to accrue such charges, if I had known, said Szalay, a secretary in Niles, Michigan, who said she withdrew money from her 401(k) retirement plan to cover the expense. What I did to prevent this from happening in the future was have his Internet access completely blocked by Verizon, but not before they made off with a boatload of money."
Surprise $2,000 Phone Bills Add to Scrutiny of Verizon, AT&T - BusinessWeek
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Old 10-06-2010, 01:58 PM   #2
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RTFM. I blocked access on my second line thru their online tool. Also blocked all access to downloading ringtones, internet, etc.
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Old 10-06-2010, 03:29 PM   #3
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I would never have allowed my son to accrue such charges, if I had known, said Szalay, a secretary in Niles, Michigan, who said she withdrew money from her 401(k) retirement plan to cover the expense.

Sounds like Ms Szalay has more problems than just a cell phone bill.
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Old 10-06-2010, 06:03 PM   #4
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[I]I would never have allowed my son to accrue such charges, if I had known, said Szalay...
Reminds me of the good ol' days when AOL used to charge by the dialtone byte.

A couple months ago our kid purchased an AT&T iPhone data plan for Italy and then while she was in that roaming zone she spent a few minutes posting to Facebook. Not only did AT&T charge her for the data plan but then they charged her again for the Facebook post, which worked out to about $10/minute.

Their customer-service response? "Oops, gee, sorry you caught us..."
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Old 10-06-2010, 06:43 PM   #5
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The joke is on her for paying it ... a better approach would be to get the charges reduced to something managable or tell them where they can "stick it".


That little 'ding' on the credit report will pass in time.
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Old 10-06-2010, 06:51 PM   #6
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Gee, I'm lucky my son was never a phone person or a big spender in any regard. I think he mostly instant messages friends. He tells me I am the only person he even e-mails on a regular basis. I don't know what I'd do in this situation. Maybe inform the kiddo that he had received his birthday and Christmas presents for many years to come.
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Old 10-06-2010, 07:13 PM   #7
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The joke is on her for paying it ... a better approach would be to get the charges reduced to something managable or tell them where they can "stick it".


That little 'ding' on the credit report will pass in time.
If she had called & asked, they would have retroactively moved her son to a higher data rate plan which she could have dropped in the next month.

I had a similar experience when DW & I had to be on a number of conference callls on our cell phones one month. They retroactively upgraded our service, so the cost was a fraction of the billed amount. A month later, we downgraded & monitored our calling more closely.
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Old 10-06-2010, 10:42 PM   #8
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If she had called & asked, they would have retroactively moved her son to a higher data rate plan which she could have dropped in the next month.

I had a similar experience when DW & I had to be on a number of conference callls on our cell phones one month. They retroactively upgraded our service, so the cost was a fraction of the billed amount. A month later, we downgraded & monitored our calling more closely.
I had to do that once when our normally responsible DD went over in minutes, and it adds up real fast - $80 or so, not $2000. Her even more responsible brother told her to fill me in and not wait for the bill - that saved us, you need to do it before the billing period is closed out. I was surprised it was so easy, but I guess they figure most people just stay at the higher rate plan.

-ERD50
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Old 10-15-2010, 11:41 AM   #9
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Maybe the person in the original link got off cheap.

Shocking phone-bill horror stories motivate regulators | The Upshot Yahoo! News - Yahoo! News

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Kerfye Pierre's thanks for helping out victims of Haiti's earthquake? A $35,000 bill from T-Mobile. Pierre tells CNN that she racked up $35,000 while texting family and friends from Haiti with the news that she had just survived the devastating earthquake. T-Mobile offered to waive voice plans for Americans who were volunteering there after the crippling disaster, but Pierre said she didn't realize that the waiver didn't include text messages.
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Old 10-15-2010, 12:15 PM   #10
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This is kind of like the banks hoping you get an overdraft... and then sticking it to you big time....

There should be NO WAY any bill should be more than say.... $200 no matter what you do...

And how many texts do you need to send to run up a bill of $35K...


But then again, I got a shock from AT&T when my wife called overseas for 5 minutes and the cost was over $10 per minute because we did not have a 'plan'... where you can get cards, other vendors etc. to charge 2 CENTS a minute...
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Old 10-15-2010, 12:35 PM   #11
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Verizon recently announced that it will refund $50 million in unexplained fees it charged customers, reportedly following an FCC investigation into a huge number of complaints. The fees were levied for data plans customers hadn't ordered, or for when customers accidentally accessed the Internet and immediately closed the application.
I had multiple of these $1.99 charges from Verizon. They refuse to talk about it or consider a credit (until now) but are unwilling unable to provide the details - unlike a call, for which all details are provided. They did agree to disable the data and browsing functions, but even that meats at least a half hour on the phone, some begging, and agree to pay to bogus data charges.

Seems the phones are default programmed to connect to the internet with one button press which cannot be canceled without incurring the minimum charge, and Verizon refuses to reprogram or allow the user to disable. This is a setup. I agree with RTFM for the OP when users just run up a large bill and are a bit clueless, but they are stacking the deck here. If they get more control from the FCC it is well deserved.
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