Fido customer gets $22,000 phone bill for roaming charges

YouTube - iPhone (Pocket-lint image)No one really likes getting those hefty cell phone bills, but a B.C. dad is especially peeved after being charged thousands of dollars in roaming charges while on a family trip to Mexico.

According to the CBC, Matt Buie is a Fido customer, whose parent company is Rogers. The Burnaby father recently took his family of four on a vacation down south, where his 11-year-old son got a sun burn and was forced to entertain himself indoors over the course of three days. He asked to play video games on Buie’s iPhone, and despite his paranoia about roaming charges, Buie relented and lent his son the smartphone.

[ Related: B.C. woman gets charges for cell phone roaming in her own home ]

Before leaving for vacation, Buie turned the iPhone to ‘airplane mode’ in order to prevent any unwanted roaming charges.

“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 told CBC. “I should have taken the SIM card out… or not let him use the phone.” That’s the guilt I have to live with. I clearly should have known better.”

Buie’s son used approximately 700 MB of data, or what equals about 12 hours of streaming YouTube video. Buie got a text message from Fido saying that his phone was going to be shut down for security reasons due to the high data usage, but not before accruing a $22,000 bill in roaming charges.

“When I heard $22,000 and my son happened to hear $22,000, he went into a fetal position and was crying,” Buie said. “It was just mind boggling for him.”

Buie is far from the only person to accrue an outrageous phone bill while on vacation; just last September, Russ Moyer traveled to Israel for a ten-day trip, and received a bill for $9,380 because he didn’t disable data roaming on his iPad.

“This charge is more than the cost of my trip to Israel, car and iPad,” Moyer told The Toronto Star in reference to his bill from Bell Mobility. “What bothers me is that I was never contacted.”

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While consumers should be responsible for knowing what charges they will incur while traveling abroad, Canada is also home to some of the world’s most expensive wireless data roaming charges. When compared to 33 other countries, Canada ranked the fifth most expensive, behind Chile, the U.S., Poland and Japan.

That could soon be remedied, however, depending on the outcome of a series of hearings currently happening at the CRTC seeking to create a wireless code in Canada. One of the changes to the wireless industry being sought by Canadians is a cap on wireless data roaming charges at $50.

Buie says that he wished he had been cut off at a certain limit rather than accrue thousands of dollars of charges. Customers of competitor Telus automatically have their data usage cut once it surpasses the $200 mark. Fido has reduced Buie’s bill down to $2,200, but he hopes that he can reduce that bill even further.

“I would rather be cut off,” Buie said. “If Fido was just reasonable about it, I would pay the amount and that would be the end of it.”

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