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article imageCanadian family billed $11,000 for watching streaming movies

By Leigh Goessl     Feb 8, 2012 in Internet
Weyburn - A Saskatchewan family came home from a vacation to the U.S. to find a whopping $10,000 bill linked to the movies they watched while on holiday.
On a trip to Phoenix, Ariz., Jayden and Sawyer were getting bored, so their dad, Jason Gibson, allowed them to watch Netflix using his air-card and laptop. Gibson had brought the laptop as a way to keep the kids entertained.
"Small children like to watch movies," grandfather John Gibson explained to CBC News. "They'd watch a movie in the afternoon and I saw them doing it and never gave it a second thought."
Movies included Spiderman, Shrek and Curious George movies streamed from Netflix, reported Estevan Mercury News.
While the films were fun for the boys at the time, what their grandfather and father learned when they got home was not entertaining. The men learned the total cost to watch those movies came to $10,668.38.
What Gibson didn't realize was that by using the subscription service and air-card, roaming fees for being out of SaskTel's range would be associated with the data charges for online streamed movies. SaskTel told him the costs for streaming movies cost $6 per megabyte. Roaming charges associated with U.S. is outlined on the company's the carrier's website.
"Old guys like me just aren't up to speed on technology and what these things are capable of doing ... without you even realizing it," Gibson told CBC. "You're going to pay roaming charges," he said. "So, a couple or three thousand dollars to watch Shrek probably."
A call to SaskTel proved to be useful, but it'll still cost the Gibson family quite a bit to pay for that handful of movies the kids watched during the trip. SaskTel reduced the hefty bill down to $1,000.
As for Gibson, he said it would be a valuable lesson learned. Now he knows to be aware of roaming charges, especially when watching movies.
The Gibsons aren't the only family to find themselves with an excessive bill. ABC News reported, reported (via Yahoo!) a man downloaded the movie Wall-E while on a trip to Mexico for his nephew, his bill? $62,000. In that case the carrier also reduced the bill, but it still cost the man $17,000.
Reed Hastings at the Web 2.0 Conference
Reed Hastings at the Web 2.0 Conference
James Davidson
And you thought going to the theatre for a family of four was expensive.
Online movie streaming has become a popular past-time for consumers, with a few companies vying to compete in this market. Verizon is reportedly looking to expand in this market, earlier this week Digital Journal reported Redbox is teaming up with Verizon for streaming video service. Netflix has also been investing heavy efforts into its streaming service and has, for the most part, stopped most investment into its DVD delivery service.
Last fall CEO Reed Hastings indicated streaming was the future and said this is where the company's focus will lie, "DVD will do whatever it’s going to do," Hastings had said. "We’re not — we’re going to try to not hurt it, but we’re not putting a lot of time and energy into doing anything particular around it and then we’re focused on, how do we take advantage of this incredible global streaming opportunity."
As streaming becomes more and more a part of daily life, consumers will need to be beware and always carefully read carrier plans to avoid incurring massive charges if traveling out of normal ranges.
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