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Family disputes Verizon's $18,000 bill
CNET News ^ | 4/30/2010 | Chris Matyszczyk

Posted on 05/05/2010 2:34:16 AM PDT by South40

It's hard not to feel the pain of both Bob St. Germain and Verizon in a dispute that has been going on since the Bush administration.

It seems that four years ago, St. Germain's then 22-year-old son, Bryan, picked up his Verizon cell phone, marveled at its ingenuity, and connected to the Web. This is understandable behavior. The Boston Globe does not record how long Bryan surfed the Web on the phone, but it does record the bill of more than $12,000 that Dad received. And the additional bill of almost $6,000 that made his life slightly less amusing.

It seems that Bryan St. Germain had gotten into the habit of tethering his cell phone to his laptop because the connection was a little more speedy than his parents' dial-up. Sadly, on receiving the first bill, Bob St. Germain called Verizon and discovered that the two-year promotional period, which neatly allowed free downloads, had expired. He was now being charged per kilobyte. And Bryan St. Germain had bitten off some 816,000 of those. Oh, and another 375,000, which were to be added to the next bill.

(Excerpt) Read more at news.cnet.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS:
Ouch!
1 posted on 05/05/2010 2:34:16 AM PDT by South40
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To: South40
My turtle. Tippy. Is very smart.
2 posted on 05/05/2010 2:37:57 AM PDT by allmost
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To: South40

Several years ago in Germany...an Army NCO came to discover his newly arrived wife, after only three months in country...had been calling her mom twice a day for two or three hour phone chats. I think the first month’s shock was around $7k, and the second month’s shock was in the $4k range. The phone company was nice about it...and did offer to break it up into twelve payments...but that really didn’t help much when you consider Army pay. The wife I believe...ended up moving back home to Mom’s house.


3 posted on 05/05/2010 2:40:51 AM PDT by pepsionice
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To: pepsionice

Off topic...but I always wondered how a man could stand to be married to a woman who needed to talk to her mom several times a day.


4 posted on 05/05/2010 2:43:00 AM PDT by riri
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To: South40

What is not clear in Verizon’s phone plan info is the limits on data. Unlimited really means about a 5MB cap. You have to research the details in their fine print.


5 posted on 05/05/2010 2:45:54 AM PDT by liberateUS
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To: riri
It's often refered to as “whooped”.
6 posted on 05/05/2010 2:47:13 AM PDT by allmost
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To: South40

Something of this same thing happened to me also, with ATT.

Needless to say, since my contract expired, ATT went off my list and despite all their entreaties I’ve never done business with them again.

Verizon messed my billing up so badly I will never deal with them again either. Now they probably send about $18000 of FIOS ads to my house a month, which would help these people out nicely.


7 posted on 05/05/2010 2:49:54 AM PDT by I still care (I believe in the universality of freedom -George Bush, asked if he regrets going to war.)
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To: South40

It’s hard to believe a 22 year old can be so stupid and easy to believe a phone company can be so predatory.


8 posted on 05/05/2010 2:49:58 AM PDT by samtheman
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To: South40

Ouch indeed. Wonder why dad is still letting his adult son leach off of him.


9 posted on 05/05/2010 2:51:44 AM PDT by Scotsman will be Free (11C - Indirect fire, infantry - High angle hell - We will bring you, FIRE)
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To: liberateUS
Unlimited really means about a 5MB cap

Im thinkin that's more like 5 gigs, at least in my Verizon two year contract...which will happily expire next week...

10 posted on 05/05/2010 2:57:46 AM PDT by OBXWanderer
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To: South40
All the cell phone companies' pricing structure is designed to make easy money for the company through the use of outlandish contracts.

I currently use Hughesnet for internet access precisely because of those policies.

I'd do completely away with cells if my wife and kids would let me.

11 posted on 05/05/2010 3:11:13 AM PDT by sonofagun (Some think my cynicism grows with age. I like to think of it as wisdom!)
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To: South40

1,191,000 kilobytes is nothing.


12 posted on 05/05/2010 3:15:13 AM PDT by UnbelievingScumOnTheOtherSide (NEW TAG ====> **REPEAL OR REBEL!** -- Islam Delenda Est! -- Rumble thee forth)
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To: South40

Seems to me I’ve heard of several similar cases in which the phone company either dropped the charges altogether or drastically reduced them. It’s easy enough to make a mistake, especially with a new account. Last fall when I was replacing my cell phone, the Verizon personnel alerted me that one of our teenage sons had exceeded his texting limit. I made some adjustments to our plan to increase his allowance, and the Verizon rep adjusted the bill. Apparently the local reps have a bit of discretion, and the good sense to value customer satisfaction. Our son wasn’t being outrageous in his usage, but going over the allowance really gets expensive.


13 posted on 05/05/2010 3:38:01 AM PDT by Think free or die
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To: South40

you used the service, you should pay for it. if you have a problem with the fees, get another service, or don’t use it.

i don’t have any sympathy for people who run up huge bills, then whine because they don’t want to pay for what they used.


14 posted on 05/05/2010 3:50:47 AM PDT by camle (keep an open mind and someone will fill it full of something for you)
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To: South40

Verizon sucks. I got a phone for my girlfriend and the first bill was like $400. It was a clone or a billing error, but they didn’t care. So I left them holding the bag of Not My Manure.


15 posted on 05/05/2010 3:56:49 AM PDT by CalvaryJohn (What is keeping that damned asteroid?)
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To: South40

Tethering is great if you set it up in advance as part of your contract. I used it on vacation and a week of it was about $5.00, pro-rated with a 5GB limit.


16 posted on 05/05/2010 3:57:26 AM PDT by TSgt (We will always be prepared, so we may always be free. - Ronald Reagan)
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To: South40

Verizon is too big, and like any bloated bureaucracy it screws up.

Under our Verizon contract, the company must send us a physical paper bill monthly. Haven’t seen a bill since Oct., 2009. Calls to Verizon were futile, as were letters. So we sent them checks monthly.

A bill finally arrived loaded with past due charges and late fees because Verizon had jacked up the service fees without telling us. The checks we sent didn’t cover the increased costs. Now we demanded that they either cancel the charges or we sue. I don’t have time for this crap.

Verizon is run by clods.


17 posted on 05/05/2010 4:03:57 AM PDT by sergeantdave
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To: UnbelievingScumOnTheOtherSide
1,191,000 kilobytes is nothing.

Yeah, and that nothing cost only $11,000.

18 posted on 05/05/2010 4:12:56 AM PDT by Right Wing Assault (The Obama magic is <strike>fading</strike>gone.)
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To: sergeantdave
Verizon is run by clods.

And they just took over my old provider, Alltel, who seemed to be doing OK by me. Prices went up, of course.

19 posted on 05/05/2010 4:15:37 AM PDT by Right Wing Assault (The Obama magic is <strike>fading</strike>gone.)
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To: Right Wing Assault

$11,000 -> $18,000.


20 posted on 05/05/2010 4:16:25 AM PDT by Right Wing Assault (The Obama magic is <strike>fading</strike>gone.)
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To: South40
tethering his cell phone to his laptop

Something doesn't sound right with this story.

Several cellulars are offering unlimited web from about $40 to $80 per month. Of course, there are fine-print restrictions, such as a maximum of 5gb of downloading per month or no downloading of large video files.


21 posted on 05/05/2010 4:21:13 AM PDT by TomGuy
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To: Think free or die
When I finally broke down and got my son a cell he was just short of 16. Having heard the billing horror stories, I did get unlimited family texting.

AT&T has a Parental Control service. I was able to limit his spending to $0.00, and his web browsing to 0 kbs.

But what really made him made was the time limits I was able to put on the phone. The only numbers that could be called or texted during school hours or after 11 pm on school nights were my cell and our land line.

He is finishing up his year of college now, Last summer AT&T came out with a new service where I could track his phone anytime. “Mom that's just creepy.” I thought it was creepy, too. But he didn't need to know that. It's all about the threat. :D

22 posted on 05/05/2010 4:30:27 AM PDT by Protect the Bill of Rights (Just another loony nationalistic egotist.)
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To: TomGuy

You have to remember this happened back in 2005 or 2006.

Wireless internet is much cheaper today.


23 posted on 05/05/2010 4:31:45 AM PDT by library user
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To: Think free or die

ATT will adjust your bill one time, and one time only, they told me. My daughter who was stationed on the Lincoln did this unknowingly at Vancouver, BC. She thought since the Lincoln was anchored at sea and only 1 hour from the US that she was safe to use her internet. Her bill was about $23,000, if I remember correctly. Took months to resolve. Could have ruined her military career.


24 posted on 05/05/2010 4:41:56 AM PDT by My hearts in London - Everett (So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.)
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To: My hearts in London - Everett
"the Lincoln was anchored at sea and only 1 hour from the US that she was safe to use her internet."

She really shouldn't have been using her cell phone while underway, it is a bit of on OPSEC issue. However some ships don't see it that way, and let the sailors call if the phone has service.

I have heard of similar stories where sailors pull into port and the phone works, only to find out later that it is $1.99 a minute. AT&T tries to take care of the military, and will work with someone to resolve issues like that, on a case by case. I think the ship to shore service is a bit high, but it is handy, and nice to be able to call home while deployed.

25 posted on 05/05/2010 5:00:53 AM PDT by DYngbld (I have read the back of the Book and we WIN!!!!)
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To: OBXWanderer

Yep, it’s 5G a month.

I have a rare, precious Alltel grandfathered contract where unlimited is TRULY unlimited. When I signed with Alltel I did the research, pushed their poor reps against the wall and made them print out a contract showing NO overage charges and no limit.

One caveat: I was used to life with caps. I lived with Wildblue for 2 years. It was fine for what it was — satellite is a last resort — but when you’ve got a family that includes two teenagers, a 7.5G monthly cap doesn’t work.

I’m scrambling to find an alternative provider once my contract is up. Clear may be the only one.

And yes, I’m rural. Sprint, AT&T and cable don’t reach me. I really miss Chad!


26 posted on 05/05/2010 5:03:18 AM PDT by Kieri (The Conservatrarian)
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To: DYngbld

Verizon has probably spent 3 times that on legal costs. Sometimes these corporate types really show that they are not the sharpest tools in the shed. Write it off already - uncollectable accounts expense, thusly reducing your income along with tax liability.


27 posted on 05/05/2010 5:06:08 AM PDT by Cyclone59 (I ROCK, Guitar Hero said so........)
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To: DYngbld

She wasn’t using her phone. She was downloading music or movies or some such on her laptop. :~/ In the rate my daughter is in, you can be sure she is quite aware of security do’s and don’ts.


28 posted on 05/05/2010 6:03:16 AM PDT by My hearts in London - Everett (So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.)
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To: My hearts in London - Everett
If she was downloading music with her computer on the phone she was using the phone, or a variation of the service. The RF works the same if you are talking or downloading. If she is using her phone, or cell service on the ship she (the phone) can be tracked.

I am also in a rate that is very aware of the security issues, and have been for twenty years. The biggest security issues on ships is cell phone usage. (data or voice) If she doesn't know that she was improperly trained or doesn't care. I have found that the latter is the case, most of the time.

29 posted on 05/05/2010 6:15:05 AM PDT by DYngbld (I have read the back of the Book and we WIN!!!!)
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To: I still care

On the other side of the coin, my son helped my mother move from Oklahoma to Georgia. On his phone (ATT), it never said roaming and he whiled away the hours talking to his girlfriend. A $750.00 bill came to the house. Turns out we were on a “state” home network and not national. But a friendly call to customer service completely wiped out the roaming charges.

Customer Service personnel frequently get blasted by people right out of the gate. My experience has been nice begets nice. I’ve been with ATT for over 10 years, and never had an issue.


30 posted on 05/05/2010 6:18:27 AM PDT by melissa_in_ga (God Bless Sarah Palin)
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To: Kieri
I have a rare, precious Alltel grandfathered contract where unlimited is TRULY unlimited

somewhat similiar story here, started with Alltel two years ago, used a usb modem plugged into a desktop, near a window, hitting a tower about 4 miles away...worked great, but then anything was an improvement over dialup....6 months after in OUR rural setting, out of the blue, comes Embarq with DSL, they had originally told us five more years...have had dsl for the last 18 months..I guess I could have bought out the Alltel/verizon contract, but it was still nice to have a laptop with HS internet, anywhere, anytime, any weather. So after two years now, switching to prepaid data on a month to month...IMO, time to "squeeze" verizon back, in my own little way...and yes, mine too is unlimited, they came out with that Cap, IIRC, about two months or so after I signed up....I remember going into the Alltel store after I saw that, and the gal said, "Oh you dont have to worry about any cap, we dont stand behind it, it is just a ploy to try to keep usage down..we dont charge anyone for going over".. Yeah right, tell that to the above mentioned Mr. St. Germain...

31 posted on 05/05/2010 6:20:30 AM PDT by OBXWanderer
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To: DYngbld

Thanks for the insult to my daughter who proudly serves her country. I can assure you that my daughter was not doing anything she was not allowed to do during her port call. geesh


32 posted on 05/05/2010 6:38:50 AM PDT by My hearts in London - Everett (So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.)
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To: My hearts in London - Everett

Insult not intended, thank her for service. I suspect we are in the same rate, I retire in a few months and need a good Sailor to replace me.


33 posted on 05/05/2010 7:17:42 AM PDT by DYngbld (I have read the back of the Book and we WIN!!!!)
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To: samtheman
It’s hard to believe a 22 year old can be so stupid ...

Not when he still lives at home!

34 posted on 05/05/2010 7:21:22 AM PDT by lonestar (Better Obama picks his nose than our pockets!)
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To: melissa_in_ga

Oh I wish you were always right on that, because I’m always very nice in dealing with folks on the phone. But I’ve run into my share of little tyrants on there.

The problem I have with big companies is that no one sseems to know what anyone else is doing. (”That’s handled by another dept.”)


35 posted on 05/05/2010 8:39:07 AM PDT by I still care (I believe in the universality of freedom -George Bush, asked if he regrets going to war.)
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To: South40

THis is one advantage of a pay-as-you-go phone. The phone only has so much money, and then it has to “top up”, and while that is “automatic”, it can only happen with a notification to the phone, which means the user knows they are getting hit with charges. So while my kids have accidentally activated services which generated daily charges, we never lost more than $15 or so.

And if I want, I can disable the auto-topups, so we have to take action to recharge the phones.


36 posted on 05/05/2010 11:01:43 AM PDT by CharlesWayneCT
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To: CharlesWayneCT

Cricket offers reasonably priced unlimited plans. This works for both consumer and provider. The consumer gets all the use they want and Cricket eliminates an entire department of people whose jobs would be to deal with unhappy customers who have been charged for exceeding their limits.


37 posted on 05/05/2010 11:41:51 AM PDT by South40 ("Islam has a long tradition of tolerance." ~Hussein Obama, June 4, 2009, Cairo, Egypt)
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