Woman floored by an off-the-hook $200,000 phone bill

Oct 18, 2011

A higher than usual phone bill can leave anyone stunned. And when Celina Aarons got a jaw-dropper for more than $200,000, it was no mistake.

The Florida woman has a plan that usually costs her $175 a month. She includes two of her brothers on it, who are deaf and mute, and use extensively for texting and communicating more easily.

"He's a sweetheart, and he goes to college and I would do anything for him," she told WSVN television of her brother Shamir.

The problem was that Shamir went to on vacation, and did not turn off his data roaming.

The bad news for big sister: a for $201,005.44.

"I was freaking out. I was shaking, crying, I couldn't even talk that much on the phone. I was like my life is over!" she told WSVN.

She said she thought "it's never going to get paid... I can't pay that. That's like paying a nice house right now based on what houses are going for."

Though T-Mobile did not have to reduce her bill, it wrote down her charges to $2,500.

"The case of Ms Aarons was extraordinary, even if the amount was correct. T-Mobile cut her bill to $2,500 and gave her six months to pay," a T-Mobile spokeswoman said.

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User comments : 18

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JRDarby
4.2 / 5 (10) Oct 18, 2011
Why is this on Physorg? What is this, the Daily Mail?
JRDarby
3.7 / 5 (7) Oct 18, 2011
An article about a new piece of technology in a phone, or even an alert to consumers about a dangerous yet ubiquitous phone component, would constitute technology-related.

This is gossip, right down to the "good big sister" and "poor little brother" exchange and the emotional outburst by the consumer.

There's nothing wrong with gossip (if you're into that sort of thing), but this is Physorg, not Gossiporg.
kaasinees
1 / 5 (2) Oct 18, 2011
calling t-mobile and this woman a liar? now that would be gossip.
WhiteJim
5 / 5 (1) Oct 18, 2011
I think its appropriate information for here. Kind of like the discovery of nuclear fission and then came the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. You should report both discoveries and consequences in practice. Here we have wireless carriers backrupting people... how many billions have been paid like this for similar mistakes that did not pull on heartstrings to get significantly reduced? The carriers paid nothing for the consumption they charges her $200K for... even the $2500 is still an obseen charge for a few pennies worth of electrical current.
ronaldk13
5 / 5 (1) Oct 18, 2011
I think it's appropriate, as it relates to a technology company. Plus it's a great reminder about data roaming charges.
Cave_Man
not rated yet Oct 18, 2011
...crying, I couldn't even talk that much on the phone. I was like my life is over!" she told WSVN.


Ex post facto solutio
Grizzled
1 / 5 (5) Oct 19, 2011
Just out of curiosity - since she didn't pay the bill, who did? The shareholders? If I was one, I would object.

But yeah, I agree, this is probably not the best place to discuss it.
Limmic
5 / 5 (2) Oct 19, 2011
@Grizzled You must be kidding right?

Do you realize that it didn't actually cost them $200,000? It's just charges they increase to make obscene amounts of money off people who either aren't paying attention, or are unaware of the rates for Data Roaming.

Siding with T-Mobile on this is as ridiculous as it is counter productive as a consumer. Do you really think they would have voluntarily reduced her bill to just over 1% of the original amount if they were actually paying that much to provide the service.

Also the article makes no statement about her refusing to pay, they gave her an extension to pay it.

As for the relevance of this topic, I suppose Physorg is to blame for not linking how this story is relevant. If you read the news lately there is a lot going on about "Bill Shock". Cell phone companies agreed to give alerts to customers about to incur overage or roaming charges after a threat of regulation from the FCC. Very relevant in our smartphone obsessed culture.
gwrede
5 / 5 (3) Oct 19, 2011
T-Mobile were eager to reduce the bill before this becomes a national outcry. They did it because they want to continue charging preposterous charges from anyone going abroad.

In Europe, there are laws that forbid this kind of rip-off. You can't charge significantly more for data roaming there.
Nerdyguy
5 / 5 (1) Oct 19, 2011
Am I dreaming or didn't a bill just get passed that would eliminate these types of issues, similar to what exists in the EU?
Jotaf
5 / 5 (1) Oct 23, 2011
What shocks me is that she pays 175 dollars a month! I mean, I pay 25 euros every 2 months. Looks like Americans are getting ripped off, and are happy about it.
Callippo
2 / 5 (4) Oct 23, 2011
that it didn't actually cost them $200,000?
It could, if the Telecom just payed the roaming call to another provider at foreign country (as the dialers usually do). It could really mean, this company has to pay these money to someone else physically. The approach of Telecom was extraordinarily kind from this perspective - in our country such bills are extraordinary, but I should pay it first, if I wouldn't want to risk a sudden distraint.
Skultch
1 / 5 (1) Oct 23, 2011
Zephir is right. Data is sent even when the phone is idle. Someone has to pay for that cell tower time. All these telecom companies pay each other so all customers can have service and they all don't have to build towers everywhere. You outraged tech users are funny. You make so many ignorant assumptions to justify your irrational desire for free communication and media (i.e. bittorent is ethical) Try verifying your unfounded assumptions before letting your blood pressure needlessly rise, or at least think it through. You'll live longer.
Limmic
not rated yet Oct 24, 2011
@Skultch
Where exactly is there a huge demand for free communications?

Who around here is actually stupid enough to think that cell phone usage will, or could, ever be free? Nobody. Quit trying to rationalize your baseless claim that all of us "outraged tech users" want free handouts.

What people want is reasonable cost for a service. Just look at the outrageous amounts charged for text messaging services since they began. Or the fact that suddenly 10GB of data costs the same as 2GB of data on these carriers.

Lets try to avoid the "poor giant corporation" claim here. If they really had to pay $200k then they wouldn't have simply dropped the charge out of the kindness of their hearts. You would have a harder time getting a late fee dropped on an overdue bill. They lowered the bill because it was ridiculous, and made for bad PR.

You're probably one of the people who cheered on the RIAA in their pursuit of people for millions of dollars in damages over sharing a few songs.
Skultch
1 / 5 (1) Oct 24, 2011
Quit trying to rationalize your baseless claim that all of us "outraged tech users" want free handouts.


Never said all. I didn't even single out a poster in this thread. Why do you assume I meant that? Why do you seem so defensive? Posters on this site routinely accuse big telecom (whatever that is) of malfeasance while it is obvious that they don't know how the industry works. That's hardly baseless. I'm merely pointing out that they shouldn't complain about things they don't understand.

You're probably one of the people who cheered on the RIAA in their pursuit of people for millions of dollars in damages over sharing a few songs.


Ha!! Another baseless assumption from /you/. If you knew my past experience with the RIAA, you would see how ridiculous that claim is. I don't like how they dealt with Internet, and they probably don't either, since their industry is still dying.

How can a company drop another's charges? They can't; they paid for her. PR
Limmic
not rated yet Oct 25, 2011
So apparently you "didn't mean all" and "didn't single out" anyone, then who exactly was that post directed at? Somewhere between no one in particular and everyone?

I absolutely love it when people come out with the "you don't know how the industry works" nonsense. I don't need to be a T-Mobile executive to understand basic facts.

I was never clarifying which company should or should not drop the charges, it was more general than that. My point was that the charges themselves were ridiculous. What I said was that T-Mobile lowered the charge because it was an obscene amount of money for the actual service provided and it protects their public image considering that the user was a deaf and mute man who relies on that service for his communication.

And yes they absorbed the cost, they didn't "drop" the charges, nitpicking semantics is just silly. Quit acting like a shill.

In the end my main point was that these roaming/overage fees, that telecom companies charge, are absurd.
Skultch
1 / 5 (1) Oct 25, 2011
In the end my main point was that these roaming/overage fees, that telecom companies charge, are absurd.


A point unsupported. Good day.
Limmic
not rated yet Oct 26, 2011
@Skultch

Logic supports my point. Good day.

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