It’s everybody’s worst nightmare: the mobile phone bill is so astronomical that you can hardly believe it!
There are countless stories of senseless charging out there, tales of companies levying incredible charges against unwitting consumers who are not aware of the potential costs of their actions.
Consider the case of Alberto, whose wireless provider charged him a whopping $62,000 for downloading the film, Wall-E. Sure, Alberto had used a wireless card in Mexico, but even after contesting the charges was still made to pay back $17,000.
Or Chicago Bear’s fan Wayne Burdick, who streamed a football game on a Caribbean Cruise. The die hard follower used a Slingbox device which allowed him to watch the game via an Internet connection, a move that eventually led to a $27,000 bill from AT&T. The company charged him by the kilobyte, at the international rate, for the three hours the game took to be completed.
The matter was soon made even crazier by Burdick finding documentation which indeed proved that he was not yet at sea but actually still at the in port at Miami whn the game was on! After communicating with 14 different AT&T employees, the bill was reduced to a still-huge $6,000. Finally, after the Chicago Sun-Times picked up the story and inquired about the matter with AT&T, the company agreed to drop the charges.
And for parents, the matter can also present new and exciting problems. Take the case of Gregg Christoffersen, who aptly compared his gargantuan bill to a “heart attack in an envelope.” In just a month, his13-year-old daughter Dena had amassed a nearly $4,800 bill almost entirely based on text charges. The option had been re-activated as the plan originally limited texting. In the end, the company agreed to leniently let the Christoffersens off the hook, with a bill of around $120 eventually being sent out.
But for sheer size and audacity, the title must go to Yahaya Wahad’s $218 trillion phone bill. The Malaysian man received the bill in 2006 with an order to pay or face court. Yahaya claimed it was his father’s line, but that it had been disconnected following his passing. At the time of publishing, the AP was unsure if the matter was simply some kind of massive computer error, or indeed criminally connected.
Knowledgeable experts in the field recommend that understanding your plan is the best way to go. One industry insider, Peter L., shared his knowledge with us: “Sometimes the devil is in the detail. The data and roaming fees usually make up a lot of profit for the big telcos. The best way around it is to use a pre-paid service that allows you to see exactly where the money is spent.”
Peter also emphasised the importance of getting the right plan for the right user: “For international users, a good plan which doesn’t gouge for roaming is also a big help. Reputable international companies like United Global Sim offer good services internationally as well as low roaming and data fees. Companies with these kinds of products offer control over who they’re used and the ultimate cost to the consumer.”
So next time you’re about to sign up to a contract, ask yourself whether the service is appropriate for your needs and whether the product offered will function in your favour. If not, you might end up with an alarming trillion dollar bill for checking your emails!