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AT&T Slaps Family With a $19,370 Cell Phone Bill 725

Posted by timothy
from the hearts-and-minds dept.
theodp writes "Mama, don't let your babies send e-mail and photos from Vancouver. A Portland family racked up nearly $20,000 in charges on their AT&T bill after their son headed north to Vancouver and used a laptop with an AirCard twenty-one times to send photos and e-mails back home. The family said they wished they would have received some kind of warning before receiving their chock-full-of-international-fees 200-page bill in the mail for $19,370. Guess they didn't read the fine print in that 'Stay connected whether you are traveling across town, the US, or the world' AT&T AirCard pitch. Hey, at least it wasn't $85,000."
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AT&T Slaps Family With a $19,370 Cell Phone Bill

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  • Apple? (Score:5, Informative)

    by dal20402 (895630) <dal20402.mac@com> on Saturday September 06, 2008 @05:41PM (#24904617) Journal

    And this is tagged "apple" why?

    This is not about an iPhone just because it's about AT&T.

  • Oh Noes! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by k_187 (61692) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @05:42PM (#24904625) Journal
    You charged me exactly what it said in the contract I signed said you would! How dare you.

    I would think that in the interests of PR, AT&T might send you a text or something when you go international roaming and pass some threshold of use, just to warn you. But really, if you pay extra to call Canada long distance, don't you think your cell phone/data card would work the same way?
    • Re:Oh Noes! (Score:4, Informative)

      by Twnki (1283800) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @05:47PM (#24904671)
      A high balance warning team that would manually evaluate out of pattern usage would be ideal in this situation. However even with a team in place or software to analyse usage, roaming usage on another provider or in another country may not be reported back in "realtime". There is often a delay in usage reporting when more than one company are involved.
      • Re:Oh Noes! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by zippthorne (748122) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @07:28PM (#24905667) Journal

        How about just a meter on the phone that says "how much this is costing you" and/or "how much you owe so far"

        • In this case the user was using a data card in his laptop. There wasn't any phone involved. I believe that when a user runs up a large bill using data roaming on a cell phone, AT&T does call the user and warn them. When the user has a data card, they don't do this. I'm not sure why.
    • Re:Oh Noes! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Tubal-Cain (1289912) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @05:49PM (#24904701) Journal

      I blame the fine print. They are so verbose that you could be agreeing to anything.

      • Re:Oh Noes! (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 06, 2008 @06:00PM (#24904833)

        You _are_agreeing to anything - and everything. One of the contract terms in almost all contracts is that they can change the terms. Granted, they must notify you and they aren't allowed to charge ETFs if you cancel because of it. But you are not allowed to 'lock-in' services just because they 'lock-in' two years of service. In short, you can't hold them to their own contract so long as they 'notify' you.

      • Re:Oh Noes! (Score:4, Funny)

        by The Creator (4611) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @06:30PM (#24905159) Homepage Journal

        I blame the fine print. They are so verbose that you could be agreeing to anything.

        Yes, but having to sign it in blood should have made them suspicious!

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by squidfood (149212)

        I blame the fine print.

        When I got iphone it had international roaming turned off by default, with a specific warning along the lines of "if you turn this on, you may get fees." It seems pretty straightforward to me and it would take an informed click-through to activate it (I think?).

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Dan541 (1032000)

          I had to call my provider to have international roaming turned on, they do it so idiots don't run up huge bills then fail to pay and leave the carrier owing money to their roaming partners.

          Here in Australia you have to go overseas to use international roaming so its not as important, but in Europe or the United States people should be allot more careful.

    • by weston (16146) <westonsd&canncentral,org> on Saturday September 06, 2008 @05:54PM (#24904749) Homepage

      You charged me exactly what it said in the contract I signed said you would! How dare you.

      I expect that in a world where most either read their contracts in great detail (and are sufficiently educated to understand the ramifications) or refused to sign anything that took them more than a minute to read, this would work out great. I'm not sure which plan you're advocating, though, and I expect either plan would actually impede carrier sales.

      I would think that in the interests of PR, AT&T might send you a text or something when you go international roaming and pass some threshold of use, just to warn you. But really, if you pay extra to call Canada long distance, don't you think your cell phone/data card would work the same way?

      I think the particularly telling piece of information is that if you want a plan where they do limit your charges and notify you when you reach thresholds.... you have to pay extra. They're called prepaid plans, and there are no surprises (well, within limits), but for common use cases, it's guaranteed you'll pay 2-4 times the amount a customer on a given rate plan will.

      Why the cell phone companies can't combine the limits on prepaid plans with conventional rate plans is an interesting question, but I suspect the answer is not a technical limitation.

      • by mabhatter654 (561290) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @06:43PM (#24905277)

        I thought cell phones ran credit checks... don't customers have a credit limit like a credit card would have? Why are the telcos allowing such huge overages over what plan you are credit approved for? They know your credit score and reasonable limit,why are they not following that on these cell plans?

        This is like the old-school days when mechanics would have you sign to "fix" your car, then replace the parts with 10x what they costed and huge labor costs then not let you have your car back... in response we passed law saying they had to tell you charges BEFORE work started and return the used parts. Expecting telcos to honor the credit checks they perform should be expected as ethical behavior.

        • by cortesoft (1150075) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @07:48PM (#24905851)
          It is because it isn't costing them the 20 grand if the customer doesn't pay. They do a credit check because they are giving you the loan of the phone, which is paid off over time. Their marginal costs for the 20k worth of service was minuscule (i am guessing pennies) so it isn't necessary to cut the service to prevent a bigger loss. If they pay, great pure profit; if they don't, they are out a couple pennies.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by todrules (882424)
        Why the cell phone companies can't combine the limits on prepaid plans with conventional rate plans is an interesting question, but I suspect the answer is not a technical limitation.

        Actually, T-Mobile does. It's called Flexpay, and your service gets cut off (at least for the rest of the billing cycle) when you reach your limit. And they have the same plans that normal postpaid accounts do. You can even buy your phone at full retail price and not even have a contract. You can cancel at any time.

        I'm n
      • by neapolitan (1100101) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @07:45PM (#24905821)

        Exactly. It is definitely not a technical limitation, but designed to enhance profits.

        I am always irked when I travel to a new city, spend $60 on my VISA card, and am called 5 minutes later for a "fraud alert" early warning. Or, better yet, dine in a restaurant in another city and have it "declined for my safety" due to unusual activity.

        For any of you guys saying "Oh, this is good," remember this is designed to protect the Credit Card company, not you. Almost all cards limit your responsibility to $50 for fraudulent transactions. You can rest assured if you were responsible for your own well being, as in the case outlined, you would not get an early warning. Similarly, there is no financial incentive to do so in the case of AT&T above, who can now harass the customer to pay a huge amount of money, and then look "generous" to let them off with only a couple of hundred dollars in fees.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Call your card company to let them know of your travels ahead of time and they will not call you. It is there for your protection.

    • Re:Oh Noes! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jabithew (1340853) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @06:09PM (#24904943)

      Roaming is something of a scandal over here in the EU, where we pay astonishing fees to use our phones a couple of hundred miles away with the same company we're signed on to at home. The European Commission has acted against roaming charges before now. [bbc.co.uk]

      In a similar case recently, a woman was charged £4900(c. US$10000 at the time) by Vodafone because she used a 3g internet connection to watch the Apprentice on iPlayer from France. Vodafone waived the charges in the end.

    • Re:Oh Noes! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 06, 2008 @06:17PM (#24905027)

      What planet are are you from? One where it really is OK to charge 6 months wages to send email using a system in use by millions of people.

      Its a sign the markets aren't competitive, the corporations immoral and some individuals so brainwashed that they blame the victim.

      • Re:Oh Noes! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by squidguy (846256) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @07:03PM (#24905451)
        You forget that AT&T has to pay the foreign carriers that you are roaming on ultimately.
        Sure, AT&T (or Verizon, Vodafone, T-Mobile, et al) make $$$ as the "home" carrier, but the real cost in roaming is the fees the home carrier has to pay to the local provider. And for the iPhone (which this case apparently isn't), Apple gets its shill too.
        Unfortunately it isn't cheap, but how does this make the corporation immoral? It costs BILLIONS to build out the telecom systems worldwide. And yet, they are supposed to make a profit for their shareholders and pay a ton of bucks to state, local and federal governments in taxes and fees. They won't give airtime and data bandwidth away for free...nor should they.
        If the user is ignorant enough to not pay attention to legal contracts and published billing tariffs, then they must be a victim of modern day Darwinism.
        • Re:Oh Noes! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by spire3661 (1038968) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @07:13PM (#24905539) Journal
          It does NOT cost $20,000 to send a few megabytes of data on a network in use by millions. No telecomm bill for a single, consumer grade line should be allowed to be billed at that rate.
          • Re:Oh Noes! (Score:5, Interesting)

            by ceoyoyo (59147) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @09:40PM (#24906713)

            The funny thing is that the guy was in Vancouver, so he was using Rogers. Rogers charges Americans roaming in Canada LESS for data than they charge Canadians who are not roaming.

            The bill would have been MUCH higher if he lived in Vancouver.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by geekoid (135745)

            So now we need to tell people what they can charge for their service?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)

          How much would sending the data with a pre-pay sim on this foreign network have cost? $10? Less? Let's assume that this network hates AT&T and charges them an order of magnitude more than it charges random people off the street with no contract, so it's $100. That means the other $19270 is pure AT&T profit. This kind of pricing is why the European regulator is investigating the EU mobile phone companies for price fixing on international roaming charges for data (where the per-MB cost is often m

    • Re:Oh Noes! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by C10H14N2 (640033) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @07:05PM (#24905467)

      Considering I have ATT, I travel internationally, I use data to work using VOIP and RDP over VPN when I do so and have never had a bill from them exceeding $300, yeah, I find this pretty fucking ridiculous.

      It is reasonable to expect charges in Canada to be roughly the same as roaming agreements for many years have included Canada as a basic service. Yeah, it's AT&T's fault if they weren't told they needed that for CANADA when they TOLD THEM THEY WERE GOING THERE.

      I can see charging, double, triple, even ten times as much barring that petty nickle-dime $14 (or whatever the hell it is these days) service fee for included international roaming, but 32,200% more? I'd say that's a tad out of line because you know full well AT&T is buying that airtime in bulk and sure as shit isn't remitting more than about a couple ten bucks of that $19,320 to fucking Rogers.

    • Re:Oh Noes! (Score:4, Informative)

      by dubl-u (51156) * <[ot.atop] [ta] [2107893252]> on Saturday September 06, 2008 @07:14PM (#24905545)

      You charged me exactly what it said in the contract I signed said you would! How dare you.

      That's the wrong way to look at it.

      I spend a good chunk of my time negotiating contracts with clients and vendors. Contract negotiation is a fantastic time sink, and only trained lawyers with years of commercial experience are fully competent to read and interpret contracts. I pay mine $250 an hour, and he's worth every penny. Can you imagine going through that effort for every pack of gum, movie ticket, or car repair?

      To avoid that, we have a number of mechanisms to make it so that people don't really have to understand the deals for common activities. They just trust that thinks work reasonably and in the usual fashion. Those mechanisms include the Uniform Commercial Code [wikipedia.org], a host of regulators, a variety of case law, and a bunch of rules imposed by wholesalers, retailers, credit card processors, and other middlemen.

      That AT&T has set things up so that reasonable behaviors yield unreasonable results is a mistake on their part. Whether or not a regulator can or will beat them up in this case, I dunno, but they'd be fools not to clean this problem up pronto. If people get scared to use new services because of stories like this, it costs them a lot more than $20k; it can cost millions.

      My bet is that AT&T will waive most or all of the charges, and in the long term look at implementing better notifications and limits.

  • Disgusted (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cerberusss (660701) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @05:43PM (#24904635) Homepage Journal

    Some people here will undoubtedly react in this topic, saying that this family "brought it onto themselves" or "should have read this or that".

    I'm saying I'm disgusted, utterly disgusted how these companies treat their customers. Why isn't there a procedure in place that calls the customer upon reaching some limit like $500 or $1000 and warns them?

    Why not? I'll tell you why. Because this is how the world works. But I'm still disgusted.

    • Re:Disgusted (Score:5, Insightful)

      by photomonkey (987563) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @06:02PM (#24904875)

      I'd warn a lot earlier. Like when you're 50% over your plan.

      Contract or not, this isn't a business game, it's a game of gotcha with customers.

      Lure people in with words like "unlimited," "free," "included" and then trickily word an overly verbose contract to make exceptions for everything.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by hairyfeet (841228)

        That is because they hire lawyers like this guy [yahoo.com]. but seriously,the personal responsibility guys can scream bloody murder all they want,but how is this anything other than piss poor service? If I suddenly start using over 100% more than I have ever used I WANT the company to call me to make damned sure i haven't been hacked. We have seen this SSDD over and over again,and it never ceases to amaze me how folks are quick to blame the guy when the simple fact is it is just showing how piss poor these companies a

        • Re:Disgusted (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Rich0 (548339) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @08:01PM (#24905955) Homepage

          It isn't even a matter of clauses buried in fine print. The problem is that this is "standard practice" and it is anti-consumer. Even if the first line in the agreement was 48 point and said "note that when you use your phone internationally you could end up being assessed charges far in excess of normal" it wouldn't be fair. It should simply not be possible to use a phone in a way that could run up that kind of a bill. If nothing else phone providers should be required to allow their customers to set a monthly limit on their spending - if the provider somehow lets the consumer go over the limit without express consent from the account owner they end up eating the cost.

          And I don't want to hear about how roaming billing cycles are too slow to allow that kind of realtime assessment of charges. If they can route a 32kbps digital phone call from my home to a point halfway around the world such that it only takes 2 seconds for the phone to start ringing and there are no gaps in the audio, then they can send a 10-byte estimate of the cost of the call per minute and do a database lookup.

          • Re:Disgusted (Score:4, Interesting)

            by cgenman (325138) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @01:14AM (#24907825) Homepage

            Are there any other parts of living where something that usually costs 60 dollars per month can suddenly balloon out to 20,000 dollars per month without explicit user intervention? Even credit cards call you when usage patterns start looking strange.

            Of course, the real problem is that people are getting *horribly* overcharged for international data roaming. I'm sorry, AT&T charges twenty dollars per MB in Canada. Telus charges just 1.7 dollars, and that's considered ripping off. AT&T charges Thirty dollars per MB in the UK, whereas Vodafone charges between 1c and 2 dollars (depending on plan). I don't care if an AT&T representative is taking a personal flight to London for each customer, setting up their wireless network, getting a few too many pints outside the Tate Modern, and flying back, it shouldn't have a 10,000% markup.

            Personally, I think that by law users should have to opt-in to these ridiculous international rates while being shown what competing costs in that territory are and how to contact those vendors. Rates like these are just abusing the system to make a buck (or 20 thousand).

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ignavus (213578)

            Plus: who is in the best position to know the bill?

            The telecom knows the exact bill at all times, but doesn't inform the customer. The customer may very well not know the bill at all (because of convoluted billing systems) until too late.

            So the onus *should* be on the telecom to keep the customer informed of the bill. For example, my ISP usage is capped (Australia) so my ISP provides a usage meter so I can see exactly how much bandwidth I have used this month. Any time I want, I can check the meter to see i

  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@[ ]u.org ['bea' in gap]> on Saturday September 06, 2008 @05:44PM (#24904641)

    This sort of thing has been going on for decades with cell phones and roaming. It is all too easy to get hosed by unexpected charges. They really should be forced to inform you anytime the fees on a call will exceed 10 times your normal per minute fee BEFORE connecting the call or in this case Internet connection.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by puto (533470)
      As I have posted before as a former ATT employee, who handled escalations. International roaming is a feature you have to call and add to the account, they make you aware of the fees, and try to sell you a package that will reduce themm and when you do not buy it, they note it. People in this case screw themselves.
      • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @06:24PM (#24905093)

        Bullshit. My gf just went to india, germany, and russia and texted and called me without tell AT&T anything.

        This is another customer 'gotcha.'

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hurfy (735314)

        I believe when i looked these plans up a couple days ago (slashdot is a tad slow again) you have to add an '5GB north american data plan'

        That 5GB is still US only however. The 'North American' portion is 100MB of data they add on. This ONLY costs $49 more than the 5GB US plan !! Almost twice as much to be able to send a few emails home. Pretty sad when stamps are cheaper than your email...Burn to CD and overnight your letter and photos home. How long to use up 100MB surfing slashdot i wonder...

        10 to 1 says

      • by hrvatska (790627) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @06:50PM (#24905355)

        International roaming is a feature you have to call and add to the account, they make you aware of the fees, and try to sell you a package that will reduce themm and when you do not buy it, they note it.

        That wasn't my experience with AT&T. I used them from 2001 to 2004. I live in the US, and I was able to freely use my cell phone in Canada, and accrue roaming charges, without having to call and authorize anything. I had one of their national plans, so I was never charged roaming charges in the US, Canada was a different story.

    • by jabithew (1340853) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @06:10PM (#24904963)

      In the European Union, thanks to Commission intervention, mobile firms *have* to text you to inform you of rates whenever you arrive in a new state.

  • Too bad.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @05:49PM (#24904693)

    Too bad that our FCC does NOT require reasonable access and reasonable charges on OUR public airwaves.

    Instead, the FCC whores out our frequencies for billions of dollars, and we then get re-charged for using those frequencies. What a crock of shit.

    Question: How much did the roaming agreement with that "roaming carrier" cost AT&T? 10$? 100$? ... Free (peering agreement)?

  • by Shag (3737) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @05:49PM (#24904699) Homepage

    The iPhone, at least, has a "Disable Data Roaming" option... of course, they probably had that clue shoved down their throats by Apple. :)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 06, 2008 @06:09PM (#24904945)

      The iPhone, at least, has a "Disable Data Roaming" option... of course, they probably had that clue shoved down their throats by Apple. :)

      Ummm, no. The first iphone had international data roaming turned on by default. And since the iphone never really turns off, many suckers ran up large bills when traveling internationally since the iphone doesn't have push email and checks every 5 minutes or so, which results in a large data bill even if you don't send or receive a single email.

      The second iphone has international data roaming disabled by default.

  • Both parties stupid? (Score:3, Informative)

    by OverlordQ (264228) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @05:55PM (#24904757) Journal

    The AirCard allows users to connect to e-mail, the Internet and business applications while traveling, according to AT&T's Web site. On the Terry family's bill, they were charged international fees for the service.

    The Terry family said they asked an AT&T employee about the service before their son left the country. They said they were told nothing about international fees.

    Did they even ask about international fees?

    From the AT&T website about their plan.

    Rate Plan Details
    Included Data 5 GB
    Additional data $0.00048/KB
    Canadian Data $0.015/KB
    International Data $0.0195/KB

    So figure, $20k @ 1.5 cents a KB he transfered about a Gig. Looking at the video some of the sessions were a few hundred megs so I really can't find AT&T all that much at fault here that they didn't check the rates.

    • Unless.... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tmack (593755)
      ..they use Verizon Math [chopstork.com]

      Then at 0.15cents, it should be 10x what you said, or 10G... unless he was doing some heavy torrenting, I doubt that adds up. 1Gb itself is quite a bit of data for an aircard/evdo thing to do, as slow as they are. And with only 21 uses of it, thats a good bit of data: ~51Mb per session avg., which with normal speeds around 200k, ~25KB/s, would be 34Mins of constant full bandwidth usage per session, 12Hrs total, but probably 3-4x or more that time realistically.

      Granted, I do not agr

    • by hurfy (735314) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @06:49PM (#24905341)

      Rate Plan Details
      Included Data 5 GB
      Additional data $0.00048/KB
      Canadian Data $0.015/KB
      International Data $0.0195/KB

      That is probably what they are told.

      BUT...

      Read it closer

      That 5GB is still US only. What is included is a whooping 100MB. For $49 dollars more than 5GB US plan. If they actually explain that do they still sell any?

      I say the rep leaves out this little detail. Afterall i had a sprint rep flatout lie about a package he was selling me when i asked point blank.

  • by Rachel Lucid (964267) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @05:57PM (#24904795) Homepage Journal

    My family was one of the many caught up in the original AT&T / Cingular Merger, and promptly quit them after we found out we couldn't add my little brother onto our current (read: old AT&T) cell plan (which was $20 per phone per month) unless the entire family got whole new phones and went on a new two-year contract.

    Well, we did... with T-mobile.

    Fast forward to now and almost the entire family has upgraded their phones since -- only one person at a time as opposed to en masse -- and my sister and I are happy as clams with Sidekicks, and even when I traveled to Canada, it never got nuts like this. (In fact, the one thing my boyfriend likes about T-mobile is that when he was traipsing all over Europe, you couldn't swing a charge cable around without hitting a T-mobile tower, so be enjoyed as-good-as-home data service!)

    So... yeah, not surprised.

  • by quazee (816569) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @05:59PM (#24904821)
    I guess that about 30% of the carriers' revenue in US are such 'oh shit' charges (on a lesser scale, of course).
  • by hack slash (1064002) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @06:16PM (#24905021)
    Why can't mobile phones (& GPRS modem software for that matter) have the ability to pre-warn you how much the call is going to cost per minute before you press the dial button?

    When you buy a product from a bricks'n'mortar or online store you're told up-front how much it's going to cost before you get out your cash/credit card/PayPal password
    But not with mobile phones, usually you're either told just after the call ends how much credit you have left on your pay-as-you-go account or at the end of the month when your contract bill arrives in the post.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 06, 2008 @06:18PM (#24905041)

    Isn't there a common law rule about contracts that "unconscionable" clauses are not enforceable? There is no way a sane person would agree to purchase services at these prices or anticipate this level of charges. It's like ordering "a bottle of red" at The Olive Garden and getting a rare 1940 barolo priced at $20,000.

  • AT&T is no longer the old AT&T, because the name was sold [att.com] to SBC. My understanding is that the SBC trademark was worse than useless because the company is so abusive. So, the managers decided to use another name.

    Those interested in how that happened can watch Stephen Colbert explain in a 1 minute 14 second video: The New AT&T [google.com].
  • It seems to me ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LaughingCoder (914424) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @06:36PM (#24905209)
    ... that the mobile carriers could save themselves a great deal of grief if they provided a fact sheet to their data subscribers. Sure, the contract said $0.019 per KB, but most people have no idea what that means. Now, if they handed them a sheet like the following:

    Here are some typical charges at $0.019/KB ...
    1 email would cost about $0.02 to send or receive
    1 web page would cost about $0.20 to display
    1 3.2 megapixel picture would cost $6 to send
    1 10 megapixel picture would cost $20 to send
    1 minute of DV video would cost $5200 to send


    In other words, express the charges in terms of something they can understand. I'm sure if this family was given a fee schedule like this they would have suggested that their son not send home the pictures.
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @06:52PM (#24905367) Journal

    If someone slapped me and my family with 200 pages of paper, no matter what is printed on them, I'd be filing assault charges.

    This is the kind of thing that should be covered by a user's bill of rights. Fair play and fair thinking in business is something we all have a right to expect. We have lemon laws for cars, and consequently have the right to think we'll be treated fairly by telephone companies. That we often are not is evidence of cause for legal action.

    We'll get there, and instances of stupidity like this will push the line in the sand. Think about it, my bank calls me to make sure I really want to spend money on my card if it is outside the norms of my usual activity. Why would phone companies not also do this? ..... exactly.

  • by puregen1us (648116) <`moc.namressawxela' `ta' `xela'> on Saturday September 06, 2008 @10:18PM (#24906945)

    Last Xmas we went back to the UK to see family. We live in NYC. My wife has an iPhone and uses it religiously. She hit $1000 pretty easily in the UK, but at that point ATT sent us a text, and cut off the data service, leaving the voice service on.

    That seemed a pretty sensible default to me.

    Similarly, when I had a UK cell phone with Vodafone on vacation I've received messages asking me to call to confirm my high phone usage and charges when I hit 2-3 hundred pounds sterling (~$500 maybe).

    I can't imagine why ATT didn't alert them in this case.

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