Things like unknowingly racking up $2,000 in cell phone charges, or $3,000 in overdraft charges of $50 each for 60 different tiny transactions when you had no idea you were over the limit.
I get that it would be hard to craft a law that worked effectively in all cases, but something as simple as for any recurring billing relationship with a consumer, any time a period's accrued billing reaches double their previous period, the consumer cannot be on the hook for additional charges unless the account holder (not user) authorizes them up to a new amount? (And for the first period, whenever it goes over, say, an average national user's spending.)
It would be up to the utility to suspend service temporarily in the meantime or not... but you could never be stuck with a surprise horrible bill because you didn't understand your iPhone was sucking up data in another country without you realizing.
I've actually used a monthly automatic pre-paid SIM card on my iPhone for years (in NYC), because it's cheaper and I know it's impossible to accrue surprise charges.
It happened about a decade ago when everybody started getting a cellphone. You should have noticed if you had teenagers yourself or in your entourage with a phone.
Bills in the hundreds of dollars after a few hours of phone calls, or using some MB of data. Roaming charges were insane and could bill a thousand euros when traveling within Europe or abroad.
Some regulations came in and prohibited that. They mandated to send notifications and block billing after some ceilings.
Was this predatory, though? Every phone contract I've signed for is pretty explicit about things like text message cost, data costs, etc.
From my perspective it seems more likely the parent's either didn't communicate that info to their daughter, or the daughter just did it anyway - both of which are parenting problems and not phone company problems.
Not to say the phone company handled it well, but the parent's signed the contract, too, so they should've had some idea.
EDIT: Now that I think about it more, I wonder if having the family on a business plan isn't part of the reason the phone company's being so stubborn about it?
Bell Canada is generally pretty bad about explaining the charges in the contract, and anecdotally I have heard many people say they were billed for things that actually didn't happen (and were able to get Bell to erase the charges with enough hours of phonecalls). It puts people under a lot of stress, even middle class people. Unlike the U.S, ordinary people in Canada have a hard time (or believe they will have a hard time) suing companies.
You probably don't try to intuit the price of other products, so why would you in this case?
And none of this applies to a 14-year-old, who no one should expect to read a contract to figure out that normal use of a device will cost thousands of dollars a month.
Regardless of the rightness or wrongness of the actions of the family in question, that seems somewhat perverse.
which I think shows charging $2k for a few weeks worth of texts is pretty unconscionable
Canada to US is $.40 per message sent. US to Canada is $.30 per message received.
So $.70 per two way exchange with her American friends and an $1800 bill means she had around 2600 text exchanges. Over a month that's 86 a day.
There is an error though - the bill was $2000 to begin with and $1800 after Bell gave a discount. So it was actually around 95 messages sent and 95 messages received per day.
It's interesting some people say that's a normal amount of texting for a business. Maybe for some businesses. I doubt his bricklaying business used that many, which is probably why he went for the cheapest plan he could get. They also have things like 500 texts for $5 or $7, in addition to the $12 extra for unlimited. If one doesn't make texts very often, saving the $5 or $12 can make sense. My own mobile plan charges around 11 cents per text since I don't pay for unlimited and that works for me since I do at most a dozen texts a year. I don't think these rates of .35 and such are unreasonable at all for someone who basically never texts and wants to save $12 a month. But it is a rip off that they don't just have a ceiling. Doesn't have to be at $12. Could be $100. Like the "max rate" at parking garages, so you can still get your car back. Bell obviously intentionally doesn't have a max rate coupled with intransigence regarding the contract because they regularly catch people with this scheme. Unfortunately there's no law preventing Bell's scheme at present and the guy signed a contract so he's stuck.
No way I’m giving teenagers a blank check, no matter how reassuring or enticing the vendors make the deals look.
Disclosure: I worked at a place tha did format, print and mail for other companies, including wireless, back in the day. Maybe not everyone is aware how these bills spin up.
There was a large bit of media last year about cost caps and limitations. But, hey, that only covers part of your bill since Texting is a different "service". This is how Bell gets away with it. They may finally back off now that this has hit the national/international news but it shouldn't need to reach that point.
How is the teenager supposed to know her text is going to the US or is being sent from the US? Maybe she knows where her friends are and maybe she doesn't. In any case this can happen to absolutely anybody at any time. I don't know where my friends may be located at every moment of the day (I guess they take vacations sometimes). And with the constant barrage of spam I doubt I would even believe a random message telling me to pay up.
But these people didn't pay for that one. And so here they are.
As a business owner you are expected to be a bit more on top of this stuff.
Is $1800 really worth the negative press and focussing legislators on a part of the business that was not included in prior legislations?
So while this is on the parents, it seems silly to potentially lose a long-term client that will be paying well over that over the course of their contracts.
If the unlimited CA->USA texting is $12, the phone company should ask them to sign up for it, and charge them $100 penalty and be done with it.
But on the other hand why aren't the parents keeping an eye on what their daughter's doing with her phone?
I feel like income is the wrong basis for determining how much independence a child should have.
Whether that’s a good idea or not, it’s hardly something unusual or worth comment on its own.
Until the kid gets their own, its the parent's responsibility to pay the bill and make sure it's being used appropriately.
iMessage, Signal, Telegram, hell even WhatsApp are good because they give carriers what they deserve, aka a middle finger.
While you can make the argument that what Bell is doing is legal, the point of this discussion is to engage with the possibility that maybe it shouldn't be.
All this said their texting charges must be absolutely exorbitant and this company is certainly ripping people off. But I bet their fees are disclosed in the contract, and for a business service that contract should have been read.
Undoubtedly they have internet service also and most of the texts could have been sent for free. There's dozens of services that will send texts for free. Hopefully the teen will learn to use them, or get her friends to use Facetime etc. Expensive lesson but getting off of fee based SMS text asap is going to save them money in the long run.
That’s just awful. You‘re a terrible person.
So, please, leave insulting people out of the thread.
nope, they informed a phone on the plan, not the account holder. the phone happened to be the daughter's, who ignored it.
if I were on a corporate phone plan, and warnings for the $40 and $65 mark, or whatever they were, came through, i'd probably ignore it too.