Celina Aarons has two brothers who are deaf and unable to speak, and she communicates with both of them using primarily text messages. Because one of them is in college full time and don't have a job, she added him to her cellular plan. And because that brother of hers went off to Canada, she should've made sure that the plan included international texting. But it didn't. And last month, Celina opened her cell phone bill to find that she was being charged $201,005.44.
When she called the phone company to protest the 43 page bill, they informed her that it wasn't a mistake. She was beside herself.
"Yes to 201,000 dollars, over 201,000 dollars. I asked three, four times and I'm like, 'Oh my God are you serious?' and she's like, 'Yes.'
Like, oh my god, indeed.
The trouble started when Celina's brother Shamir took a two week vacation to America's friendly northern neighbor. During that time, he forgot to turn his data roaming off, and as he sent 2,000 text messages and downloaded several videos, his bill added up quickly. "So apparently he used it for internet and I don't know how the charges got so high or whatever," she eloquently explains.
Cecilia Aarons said she received no notification that the charges were going so sky-high. When contacted by a Miami/Fort Lauderdale TV station's consumer reporter, the phone company (T-Mobile) explained that Shamir had been sent a total of four text messages from the company explaining that the standard international data rate outside of an international data plan is $10 per megabyte, and that Shamir was really chewing through those megabytes.
Phone companies are under no obligation to inform their customers when their bills are expanding like Violet Beauregard's purple waistline, explains attorney Howard Finkelstein. Their job is to provide a service and bill customers accurately for that service.
Even though T-Mobile had no legal obligation to do so, they mercifully reduced Celia's phone bill from $201,005 to $2,500 and gave her six months to pay it.
Moral of the story: just because Canadians walk among us undetected but for their unusual love of hockey and politeness does not mean that Canada isn't in fact a foreign country. Plan your cell phone service accordingly.
Image via Christopher Dodge/Shutterstock