Woman Shocked by $201,000 Phone Bill

Discussion in 'Travel Technology' started by rwoman, Oct 19, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    Woman Shocked by $201,000 Phone Bill

    The thing that gets me about this is the fact she used the news media to get t-mobile to reduce legitimate (regardless of whether or not they are fair) charges.

    :rolleyes:
     
  2. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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    Amazing stories, this only shows that cell phone user with specific plans must always be up to date when using their phone for travel or at home.

    Glad T-Mobile reduced this staggering bill to 2.5K, but still it is a rather high bill for private consumption. Indeed, she is media savy and knows "how to play the strengths of the media vs. public perceptions", intelligent indeed, but we shall not overlook that overall T-Mobil had send the right billing amount to her.

    I now only wonder to which plan she should have switched that this debacle on T-Mobile wouldn't have happened?
     
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  3. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    I think a 90% reduction is more than fair. Hopefully she won't make the same mistake again.
     
  4. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    What I want to know is: how much did T-Mobile pay to the Canadian roaming partners?

    I suspect T-Mobile agreed to lower the bill because it would have caused quite a stir if their real cost had been exposed...
     
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  5. TRAVELSIG
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    TRAVELSIG Gold Member

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    Not 201,000 dollars. And the telephone companies really should warn someone when their phone bill exceeds 100% of the regular spend.
     
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  6. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    Especially since text messages are already an incredibly small cost relative to voice calls. Not texting, just like not buying cable, is my own little protest against the overpriced powers that be.
     
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  7. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    see http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4493114...=technology_and_science-wireless#.Tp7uZJxZi8c


    Guidelines unveiled on Monday by the wireless trade association, CTIA, will see companies send alerts to customers when they near or reach monthly limits on voice, text and data services, and before they incur international roaming charges.
    The guidelines are similar to rules the Federal Communications Commission was contemplating, and the regulator is backing off its plan for now.
     
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  8. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Clearly not. For example... AT&T offers their best corporate customers unlimited international data add-ons to their regular plans for less than the cost of the domestic 5GB plan you may have.
     
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  9. TRAVELSIG
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    TRAVELSIG Gold Member

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    Agreed- I do have an international data add-on, however for some reason (which I am not aware of) it is not valid for Malyasia. I mistakenly left my BB data on, and in four days had a bill of well over 2000 EURO in data services! Our purchasing department just slightly suggested that this should be reviewed and it was cancelled immediately. This tells me the Marginal cost cannot be very high. If I were a mobile company (which I am not), I would quickly get a handle on this as it is very easy to be regulated, will be extremely popular to regulate, won't cost one vote to politicians.... really a potential for a bored Senator, MP, MLA, etc.
     
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  10. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Maybe not a vote, but probably a whole bunch of $$$ in campaign donations from the mobile carriers.
     
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  11. worldtraveller2
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    worldtraveller2 Silver Member

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    I feel for the woman, I went to the cayman islands this summer and powered my phone OFF, but airplane mode. When I landed, got to the hotel and then went out for groceries, I thought I heard a beep in my purse, and sure enough, my phone was getting all kinds of text messages from the cayman islands and surrounding islands about phone usage, then finally I got one from VERIZON telling me that I had incurred over $50 worth of text messaging. I tried to call VERIZON from there but it was real sketchy reception, but basically got the guy to put a hold/stop on all usuage outside the USA. I didn't even bother calling them when I returned, because I figured it was too much hassle with trying to get them to take the charges off. I literally didn't text anyone, they were slamming me from the minute I stepped of the plane. I had to email my husband and let him know, as he was arriving a few days later, as I am sure it would have happened to him also.... SCAM SCAM SCAM.
     
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  12. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    If the phone was on airplane mode, there should be no way it could receive (or send) text messages, whether from a Cayman Islands carrier or from Verizon. And clearly phones don't magically disable the airplane mode themselves, or else planes would be falling out the skies left and right. ;)
     
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  13. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    This story has a bit more detail that was missing in the MSNBC piece:

    http://www.wsvn.com/features/articles/helpmehoward/MI93365/

    Turns out only one brother was in Canada (MSNBC says "But her brothers spent two weeks in Canada")...

    The TV station that the phone account's owner contacted went to T-Mobile. This is what they said:

    We then contacted T-mobile. Give them enormous credit, they were reasonable. They wrote that Shamir was billed $10 per megabyte. They say that rate was texted to him, and four additional texts were sent to his phone as the charges soared.

    10 bucks per megabyte with a $201,000 bill means that Shamir used about 20 GB of data in his two weeks roaming in Canada. I just checked my iPhone 4 and my 3G data usage since I got the phone (shortly after it was released over a year ago) totals 14.2 GB down and 1.5 GB up...

    "Phone companies tell you when you leave the country. turn that data roaming off. T-mobile says they warned Shamir, but I guess when you are sending and receiving 2,000 texts you can miss the warnings.

    While I believe the roaming rates are outrageous and unfair, there is also a certain responsibility that people need to accept for their actions. I am glad T-Mobile didn't just completely waive the bill.
     
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  14. Mapsmith
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    Mapsmith Gold Member

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    On a road trip to San Diego, I kept getting texts from T-mobile saying I did not have international Roaming. I guess I was picking up data from Mexico Towers. Fortunately, my bill showed no Int Roaming Charges.
     
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  15. worldtraveller2
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    worldtraveller2 Silver Member

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    maybe I checked it when I landed, by turning it on? but I did not use it or text! so in essence, they were hitting me, not me hitting them! still cost me $50!
     
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  16. Flyer1976
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    Flyer1976 Gold Member

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    I read the story and I can see that consumers do need to be careful but what pissed me off with the MSNBC article is that they used the words "Deaf-Mutes" ...That's like saying the N word with African Americans for Deaf people in the Deaf Community and I for one am outraged to see that they still use politically incorrect terms in mainstream media these days...(I am Deaf myself).

    They couldn't have just said "deaf" or even our less liked term "hearing impaired" but instead decided to word it as "deaf-mute" to make us seem like we have the mental incapacity to reason with what Shamir's actions could have resulted into (a hefty bill).

    Oh and INTL Data Roaming Charges suck big time, Sprint used to have a flat rate plan but not anymore :(
     
  17. Jaimito Cartero
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    Jaimito Cartero Silver Member

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    I hope you don't handle your own checking account. :)

    10% of $201k is NOT 2.5k. Was actually closer to 1%.
     
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  18. iolaire
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    iolaire Gold Member

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    This is exactly the bad thing about the recent FCC announcement, all that the carriers are promising is to send notification - so the problem will continue.

    Just as this case illustrates people will not respond to "notifications" and will continue to be very surprised to get huge bills. I don't know if people don't read the notifications or just think the overage will be a few cents or what, but clearly they don't expect to get bills over $1,000's of dollars on a $100 rate plan.
     
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  19. Mapsmith
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    That is one reason that I have disabled texting on my phone service. Most texts seem to either be minor updates or advertising. My account only accepts free incoming texts. No other ones come thru. (Have to do it with a call to the service provider tho.)
     
  20. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    Arggh, it's no longer summer in Seattle. I'm trying to avoid drinking coffee, so it takes me a while to wake up in the morning. :oops:
     
  21. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    What is your suggestion? Should they just disable the account after a certain threshold is reached? Then you'd have people complain about the evil carriers taking away their service just when they needed it. Send a messenger with a marching band? ;)

    At some point people need to accept responsibility for their own actions (or lack thereof). I'd rather argue that the roaming rates are ridiculously and unreasonably high than that four text messages were insufficient to get the message across (or that they were bad at math and didn't understand what $10/MB means). Maybe a prepaid plan would be the better choice for these folks?

    Those new text messages warning about reaching certain thresholds are also targeting (maybe even mainly) those who rackup huge bills with domestic calling/texting.
     
  22. iolaire
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    iolaire Gold Member

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    Rather than a notice, some sort of forced acknowledgement is probably better. i.e. You have reached $250 in overage charges, would you like to buy more access this month?

    There could be stop points as you go up in charges. There are probably are people who are willing to spend $10,000 in a month to have access, but they should need to confirm a few times that they are willing to pay before they reach that level. And maybe even do a credit check at some level - did they even know if that lady could recover from $200,000 in spent credit?

    Another option is to regulate price gouging and only allow carriers to charge a fair price – but that would be very hard to make happen given the amount of profit the markup on data generates.
     
  23. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    I bet they don't bother with the credit check thing (well, they do a check when you sign up, no?) because they know the bill you rack up is in no way near the actual cost of their product.

    It seems to work quite well within the EU. But there are probably more powerful lobbies in DC preventing this from happening here.
     
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  24. cordray2643
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    cordray2643 Silver Member

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    How is it determined what it costs them? I want my cell phone carrier to continue with R & D to get me better service and a portion of my bill goes to that. Not sure how much of it, but I know that I am paying for the 4G network in some way.

    Let's call it what it is. Someone made a mistake, did not realize the consequences of their actions. I have done this a time or two in my life and I have to deal with it. This person dealt with it (I may not agree with how they did it, but respect that they dealt with it rather than looking the other way and not paying the bill).

    My advice to all is to be informed, make informed decisions, and be respectful of others by being accountable for your actions.
     
  25. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Well, really it's not the cellphone carriers that do the research, just like United doesn't spend a lot of money on airplane research. It's the likes of Nokia, Siemens, Ericcson, ...

    And how is it determined what it costs them? Well, the way I look at it: if -- to use the example of Canada as this is the story here -- a customer of a Canadian cellphone carrier pays $x for their service, why should it cost me $x * 100 when I use that service via AT&T? Presumably AT&T buys capacity (minutes, bandwidth) en bulk from their Canadian partners for their own customers to use while roaming in Canada and they should a lot better pricing power than that single Canadian customer, yet I end up paying through the nose. And it's not like there is additional (measurable) costs for the bits to cross the border.

    Completely agree with that.
     

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