If you recall a previous post I wrote about a little girl accidentally charging $1,400 to her mom’s iTunes account through in-app purchases in Smurfs’ Village, you’re not going to believe this story about an even more outrageous cell phone bill.
Celina Aarons got the shock of her life when she opened up her most recent cell phone statement from T-Mobile, expecting to see the usual $175 charge, only to find a whopping $201,000 bill. According to The Huffington Post, Aarons has her two deaf-mute brothers on her plan who communicate using text messages, and also use their mobile devices to watch videos.
The brothers recently traveled to Canada and Aarons forgot to add an international plan to her account to accommodate the travel. During the trip, her brothers sent more than 2,000 texts and downloaded many videos using international data roaming which resulted in a 43-page bill that amounted to more than $201,000.
After disputing the bill and getting some third party help and negotiation (and lots of media coverage), T-Mobile lowered the bill to $2,500 and has given her six months to pay it off.
To avoid this kind of catastrophe, one that the FCC has classified as “bill shock,” here are some recommendations of having a better handle on cell phone usage:
• Understand your calling pattern for making voice calls, and ask your carrier for a plan that would be best for your kind of use.
• If you are an infrequent phone user, consider a pre-paid plan. Because you “pre-pay” for all your minutes, these plans make it impossible to go over your set limit.
• Understand what your roaming charges are and where you will incur them.
• Understand your options for data and text plans.
• If you are going to use your mobile phone outside the U.S. for voice, email, and other services, make certain to find out beforehand what charges may apply. (Visit Wireless World Travel for more information about using a wireless phone in other countries.)
• Ask how your carrier can help you avoid bill shock – with phone or text alerts, by letting you monitor your account online, or by giving you other information.
• If you have tried to resolve a billing issue with your carrier and can not reach an acceptable resolution, complain to the FCC. You can call our Consumer Center, toll-free, at 1-888-CALL FCC (1-888-225-5322), or file a complaint here.
And to avoid the fees that little kids can accrue while unknowingly racking up charges on in-app purchases, make sure to monitor their game play and make sure they realize they need to ask someone before pushing random buttons they aren’t sure about.
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