Woman’s $200,000 phone charge defines ‘bill shock’

If the FCC ever needs another reason to prove that its new “anti-bill shock” initiative is necessary for consumers, it need look no further than Celina Aarons.

Aarons was used to getting her T-Mobile bill every month and paying the ~$175 balance. That’s the cost for her phone as well as her two brothers, both of whom are deaf and mute and are on her plan.

So one can hardly blame her for “freaking out,” as she told local news station WSVN-TV, when she opened her recent bill and found a nice “$201,005.44” in the “Amount Due” box.

Realizing that it was not an error, she said, “I was shaking, crying, I couldn’t even talk that much on the phone. I was like my life is over!”

Yes, the amount was accurate. Her brother had been vacationing in Canada, which requires data and voice roaming – a feature most phones have disabled by default because it is incredibly expensive for international usage.

So, watching a Youtube video here, texting there, making a few calls, all added up to $1,000 and $2,000 charges spread rampant throughout the bill.

T-Mobile said there were no errors with the bill and that it gave warning to Aarons when the charges started racking up, but Aarons said she received no notice until the unbelievable bill came in the mail.

After facing a bevy of negative publicity, the carrier was nice enough to lower the cost to “only” $2,500. Aarons has six months to pay that balance, in addition to continuing to pay her normal monthly charges – or around $600 per month for the next six months.

Given the nature of this story – a woman trying to support her two disabled brothers – it’s surpring T-Mobile didn’t just waive the bill entirely. Nevertheless, it just goes to show that new FCC regulations for preventing this kind of thing for customers is probably a good idea.