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article imageCanadian dad slammed with $22,000 bill for roaming charges

By Leigh Goessl     Mar 5, 2013 in Business
A Canadian man is accusing his carrier of gouging data charges after he was billed over $20,000 during a recent trip to Mexico. His son had been watching YouTube videos on his dad's iPhone.
Matt Buie, of British Columbia, is accusing Rogers Wireless Inc. of price gouging after Fido, one of the company's subsidiaries, sent him a whopping $22,000 bill.
What had happened, according to CBC News, was Buie's 11-year-old son became sunburned while on holiday and spent three days inside the family's hotel room. During this time, his father permitted him to play video games on the iPhone, but the boy had also been watching YouTube videos.
After a few days, Buie got a text message that his phone was being shut down for "security reasons" due to the excess in data use.
While Buie admits he should have better monitored what his son was doing, he feels that Fido should have notified him a lot sooner, as competitors, such as Telus, shut down after $200 is accumulated for data use. According to Buie, the Apple store recommended airplane mode to be turned on to prevent roaming which he did do.
“I made a mistake here — as his father — and he made a mistake. He turned off the airplane mode and was watching YouTube videos,” Buie said. “I should have taken the SIM card out… or not let him use the phone. That’s guilt that I have to live with. I clearly should have known better.”
Buie's son used up 700 megabytes, or about 12 hours of YouTube video time. CBC pointed out this was $30 per minute of watching YouTube, which is described as much higher than other companies charge.
During negotiations, Fido said it would reduce the bill to $2,200, but Buie was not agreeable. He contends the first bill was "roaming bill shock" and that this is done to make the still high $2,200 sound better.
“It is gouging,” said Buie. “It is $20 in Mexico [for domestic customers] to get the same amount of data [700 MB] from their carrier and it is $40 to get the same amount of data while in Canada.”
Buie maintains Fido should have cut him off when it reached $200.
“I would rather be cut off,” said Buie. “If Fido was just reasonable about it, I would pay the amount and that would be the end of it.”
At this time Fido has lowered the bill down to $500, but Buie is still negotiating for the $200.
“It’s very unfortunate this customer had this experience,” said a statement from Rogers spokesperson Jennifer Kett. “When this type of situation happens, we have internal processes in place to identify these customers and their usage prior to their bill being sent out and then we proactively work with them towards a resolution.”
Companies do sell roaming packages before travel, but Fido's is described as being as much as 5x competitor rates. Rogers is reportedly not commenting on why it charges so much more than competitors do.
"We sign agreements with individual carriers in countries around the world. We wouldn’t disclose the terms of those agreements," Rogers said in a statement.
Last year, Digital Journal reported of a similar incident after a Canadian family traveled to the U.S. and wound up with a $10,000 bill for watching children's movies on a laptop. Prior to that another family was sent a $62,000 bill after a trip to Mexico, and the customer ended up paying $17,000.
The Globe and Mail asked in its piece on Buei's carrier situation, "Is a customer’s $22,000 cell phone bill the result of negligent parenting or Rogers' price-gouging?"
What do you think?
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