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Messy misunderstandings – who is responsible?

I’ve seen some excessive cell phone bills. I’ve done my fair share of complaining about fees, minutes and texts. I’ve felt the urge to haul my phone into a large body of water. I’m generally never content with my cell phone bill, but I’ve never felt like I needed to take out a loan or sell a house to pay the bill.

Such was the luck of some internet happy Canadian who didn’t quite understand his cell phone plan. Under the impression he had unlimited internet and data, he quite literally used his cell phone as a regular modem to connect to the internet and download feature length movies, applications and other random data. Unaware he was being charged per kilobyte, the resulting tab was quite a shock.

Upon receiving a bill for $85,000, the man assumed his wireless carrier had made a mistake. After further examination and with the assistance of customer service, he was informed that no, he did not have unlimited access to the internet and the bill was in fact, accurate.

My thoughts are quite surely along the same lines as his – at what point does the service provider get alerted that they have a customer who is using their service in excess of oh, let’s say $25,000 when an average bill would be closer to $60 a month? Is there truly no one who looks out for such circumstances and misunderstandings? Did they think it would be paid in full? For that price, the man could have flown to speak to, in the flesh, each and every person he spoke to on his cell phone that month.

The company has since lowered the bill to $3,243 (not the highest I’ve heard of). A nice gesture on their part, but it still makes me wonder….is there no one out there looking out for us? If we make a mistake and misunderstand the fine print or smooth words of a salesman, and admittedly screw up, are there companies that look out for you, send you a letter, give you a call (clearly, the have his phone number) when something unheard of happens in the normal course of the relationship?

Being that this story made it’s way to me via Yahoo! News, it’s obviously a moment for the record books. What can this company do to make sure this doesn’t happen again? Such a blatant misunderstanding becomes the responsibility of both parties, if you ask me. This accident is an opportunity for companies to take note, to take care of and educate their customers.

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  1. I would definitely *prefer* a company that would intervene in such an extreme case as this, but I wouldn’t *fault* the company for not reaching out to him.
    I have such a hard time with “dumbing down” so many things like this. A cell phone contract can be daunting to read, but you need to read it. You need to understand it.
    Think about it this way: you start electricity service at your house or apartment. You have to understand the terms of the agreement so that when you get socked with the bill, you understand why 5 million twinkle lights don’t need to be on 24 hours a day. ;-)
    Any time something is “unlimited,” that should be a contract signee’s first warning sign to check the terms.

    Posted by: Christy | December 19, 2007
  2. I think that this post and the MGM grand post have a lot in common.
    I agree with Christy, I don’t fault the company for not constantly looking for something like this. The yearly cost of something like that would probably exceed $85,000.
    However, I do fault them for their lack of goodwill recovery. Because I don’t think it is anyone’s fault, I think the company needs to give a full refund here. Or at least down to the cost of a plan that had unlimited internet coverage.
    And if that’s what $3,243 reflects, then it should be mentioned.
    That would have made this is an overwhelming positive story for the unnamed cell phone company.

    Posted by: Mark | December 19, 2007
  3. Sprint is my cell provider and they actually have my account and maybe everyones set up with a monthly spending limit. (Which I think is brilliant.) If by chance my monthly bill ever hits above my spend limit my service will be cut off and I receive a message that tells me such. Sure it may be inconvenient at times, but it doesn’t happen very often and I’m thankful when it has because I’ve often avoided some pretty hefty phone bills.
    As for this gentleman’s cell phone provider…let’s hope they put some measures in place that notify them of excessive charges. Then just send the phone a text message.

    Posted by: Anonymous | December 20, 2007
  4. I believe any account for a cell phone that reaches $85,000 should have been noticed by someone. I once had a water bill that was out rageous. I didn’t know that the meter was broke for several months. Was I responsible? The city I lived in thought so……it was on my property. Just seems to me that excess dollar amounts should set off warning bells for all companies especially when you have consist dollar amounts from previous bills to compare with.

    Posted by: Jan | December 21, 2007
  5. I can imagine Crystal with this one……..

    Posted by: Matthew LaVaute | January 2, 2008

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018