We had quite a few people forward us the link to the recent story of a South Florida woman who was surprised by a $201,000 phone bill, so it’s probably safe to say that a lot of people are familiar with the story. For those who aren’t, the story involves a T-Mobile customer who was doing everything right. She was carefully managing her cell phone bills for herself and her two deaf-mute brothers. Her brothers unsurprisingly made heavy use of Text-messaging and data, but careful management of the data and TXT plans kept her bills around $175 per month. That is, until her brothers visited the remote country of Canada. Her brothers continued their normal use of data and messaging, but since they had neglected to add an international plan to their account ; and she got whacked with a $201,000 bill.
I think the most appalling part of the story is the fact that T-Mobile initially tried to make the bill stick, saying “the bill is correct.” Honestly? T-Mobile, you are going to saddle some poor woman and her two deaf-mute brothers with enough debt to buy a decent house – all because they forgot to add a stupid $15 international plan? It was only after the woman called a local TV station and made the story public that the company reduced the bill to $2500 and gave her the option to make payments. All I can think is, “Gee, thanks T-Mobile!”
Unfortunately, we see this sort of behavior from the phone companies all the time. We currently have a client – a hospital – who was overcharged by AT&T to the tune of $250,000 for long distance services that was being billed incorrectly by AT&T, and AT&T is keeping the money. Not only that, but AT&T is trying to collect on the client’s final bill (also incorrectly billed) that the client refused to pay. Recent changes in Florida law is enabling AT&T to act this way, and even to wriggle out of a negotiation that we instituted with the PUC, but the client has wisely taken their business elsewhere.