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Dad Gets $22,000 Data Roaming Bill from Fido After Son Streams YouTube

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The CBC reports another case of Canadian carrier ‘bill shock’ has a Canadian family after a dad received a $22,000 data roaming bill from Fido. The massive bill was accrued after his 11 year old son streamed YouTube videos while roaming on a family vacation in Mexico.

“When I heard $22,000 and my son happened to hear $22,000, he went into a fetal position and was crying. It was just mind boggling for him,” said Matt Buie, who has an account with Fido, which is owned by Rogers.

Buie, a financial planner from Burnaby, took the extra steps to educate himself about roaming charges prior to his trip, with the Apple Store recommending he turn on Airplane Mode to avoid any excess charges. Unfortunately, his son, after getting sunburnt was allowed to play games and watch videos on his iPhone for three days, thus racking up a $22,000 bill from Fido.

“I made a mistake here — as his father — and he made a mistake. He turned off the airplane mode and was watching YouTube videos,” Buie said. “I should have taken the SIM card out… or not let him use the phone. That’s guilt that I have to live with. I clearly should have known better.”

Fido eventually sent a text to Buie, cutting off his data “for security reasons” and “excessively high” data charges. But up next came the actual amount of the bill–$22,000 from Fido for 700MB of data roaming, or what the Rogers website says would equate to 12 hours of YouTube.

Buie said Fido cut the bill to $2,200 but has been negotiating a lower bill. He says “it is gouging” for parent company Rogers to be charging these excessively high data amounts, since it is $20 in Mexico for the same amount and $40 in Canada.

According to research by the CBC, pay per use charges differ among Canadian carriers for 1MB of roaming data:

  • Rogers: $30/MB
  • TELUS: $5/MB
  • Bell: $8/MB

“I don’t think many Canadians would actually escalate this to the degree that I am doing here, but one of the reasons I am doing this is, this is just wrong and unfair business practices,” said Buie.

Buie says if he was with TELUS, his data access would have been cut off when his bill reached $200, which is the equivalent he is willing to pay Fido. The latter has reduced his bill to $500.

“It’s very unfortunate this customer had this experience,” said a statement from Rogers spokesperson Jennifer Kett.

“When this type of situation happens, we have internal processes in place to identify these customers and their usage prior to their bill being sent out and then we proactively work with them towards a resolution.”

Janet Lo from The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) believes carriers use the fear of ‘bill shock’ to sell data roaming packages to consumers prior to their trips, noting “it’s a little unfair to put the burden on the consumer to estimate how much data they are going to use before they go abroad.”

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen cases of roaming data ‘bill shock’ from Canadian carriers. Other cases involving customers from Rogers have included amounts of $6,000$18,000 and $1,400. A TELUS customer also received a $37,000 bill before too.

What should be done to solve the issue of excessive data roaming charges? Anyone with an iPhone knows the Data Roaming setting is turned OFF by default. How do these excessive charges keep on happening? Should customer bills be allowed to skyrocket into the tens of thousands of dollars?

Update: Rogers emailed us with the following clarification:

To be clear, the $22,000 was never billed to the customer. When this type of situation happens, we have internal processes in place to identify these customers and their usage prior to their bill being sent out and then we proactively work with them towards a resolution.

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of iPhoneinCanada.ca. Follow me on Twitter, and @iPhoneinCanada, and on Google+.

  • Acer12345

    Those prices are absolutely ridiculous. No other way to put it.

  • Ksmit

    Yeah these prices are ridiculous, and Rogers/fido should have a cut off point to keep this from happening, but the father should’ve taken the sum card out and told the kid not to take it off airplane mode

  • http://www.facebook.com/coreykirk Corey Kirk

    I just spent 6 weeks in Mexico and through iusacell paid 300 pesos ($24) for 30 days prepaid (1.6GB of data and more voice minutes and texts that I was able to use.) So yeah, our roaming prices are even more ridiculous than our local prices in Canada.

  • Moto

    It’s not as simple as just taking it out of Airplane mode to rack up data roaming charges. You have to go into settings and choose data roaming. Those prices for data roaming are out of this world, but why do people always blame someone else for their mess?

  • jabohn

    The roaming price is indeed ridiculous. Fido should have sent a warning way in advance and then cut the data off soon after. However, I still think the customer is at fault… they should have known better than to leave the phone with the kid unsupervised.

  • Olley

    Who’s this dumbshit hipster Apple employee that recommended Airplane mode rather than Data roaming in the settings?? Dumbfuck.

  • Burger

    Agreed prices are high, and Rogers are ridiculous compared to the other providers but how is this guy getting away with trying to negotiate a lower charge? He did his homework prior to the trip and knew about roaming charges. His son used it, he admitted it was his mistake. It’s not a phantom charge.

  • http://twitter.com/buzzbishop Buzz Bishop

    Yup, suck it up and pay the bill.

  • http://twitter.com/buzzbishop Buzz Bishop

    It is a two step process to make the mobile work abroad. Flip the Airplane mode switch and then ENABLE data roaming.

    Kid knew what he was doing. Sorry, Dad…. but that’s a bill you need to be forced to pay.

  • Djelimon

    What, he’s at a hotel with no wifi? Sounds like fido is charging the going rate for prepaid instead of crushing the guy.

    Of course Fido’s reasons probably have more to do with PR than altruism, and Canadian rates are relatively steep, but he caught a break IMO

  • http://twitter.com/erikkappel Erik Kappel

    Does this iPhone work if the sim card is taken out? I’ve never tried it…

  • http://www.iphoneincanada.ca Gary

    Yes. Use WiFi

  • Warren

    Rogers are gouging again!!!! They just bill for any over usage, There are NO systems in place to warn the user of data/text over limit use. Ridiculous.

  • http://twitter.com/erikkappel Erik Kappel

    Huh, cool. I guess because my old gsm phones would literally not function without a sim card, I just assumed the same for the iphone! Good to know! So I could continue to use it after I get a new phone… Excellent! (I had some ideas of how to repurpose it.)

  • Jason

    Clearly everyone with a cellphone is aware of cases such as this. Someone accidentally uses the phone outside the country, racks up the charges and then goes to the media. How do you solve this? allow a reasonable cellphone unlocking fee. I would gladly buy a sim card from Mexico or USA etc to use my phone on their network at their price point then use the carriers rates for international usage.

  • http://www.iphoneincanada.ca Gary

    The only thing is if you do a fresh restore, it’ll require a SIM to activate.

  • Jon

    Disagreed. Fido should have cut off the service after such excessive use.

  • Eric Lewis

    Another reason why our cell phone plans are so expensive, to pay for people’s bills who ROAM and refuse to pay.

  • Anthony W

    I disagree your disagree. Some people like myself would be using as business phone oversea. These charges are not that huge if you really need it. If $2,200 can let me close a deal or solve an issue while I am oversea, I would pay it happily.

  • http://twitter.com/erikkappel Erik Kappel

    Aha. I knew there had to be a sim-related catch in there somewhere. Again, good to know, thanks. You know this could be a fun article if you or someone on your team felt like writing it. “What you can do and cannot do with your iphone post-sim card” or something of the sort, with all the caveats explained.

  • Anthony W

    There are a few things to this. The dad did his research so he KNEW what had happened. Everyone here knows you need BOTH airplane mode and data roaming mode to be turn on and off in order to get data oversea. This is not one step process and warning always pop up on the iPhone letting you know you are on airplane mode when you are trying to get online. The kid was playing his innocent card to his dad and his dad made the mistake as well. Both guilty.

    I found it hard to believe this guy is sharing this on TV. He should be hiding his embarrassment instead of complaint. I do agree the charge is high but they deserve every penny of it.

  • http://www.iphoneincanada.ca Gary

    Good idea for a story, but the only thing you wouldn’t be able to do is make calls and send texts.

  • NDF

    DUMB IDEA!! BEST WAY TO REPURPOSE IT IS CRAIGSLIST!

  • Boutros

    No doubt it’s their fault for having data roaming on. The problem is the excessive fees – all carries should stop data once it reaches a couple hundred dollars. Better yet, let’s look at why these rates are so high – it’s just data. How can it possibly cost $22,000 for 700mb of data? Did this kid have a satellite dedicated just to him? Seriously…..$22,000 for 700mb?

  • Marc

    You guys are idiots. The question is not if the dad knew. The problem is that the data roaming they charge to us is a fraud. This 22000$ cost fido 20$ ! That’s the REAL problem

  • pure4

    Rogers does not deserve every penny of it. F-YOU it costs them pennies to deliver that service.. that is all

  • pure4

    It costs the cell phone co. penies to deliver that service.. so STFU!

  • pure4

    One again Buzz Bishop STFU! You work for one of the Big 3 why should the dad have to pay something that costs the carrier PENNIES to deliver???

  • pure4

    Marc, THANK YOU! That’s the REAL problem stupid fucks refusing to see that Rogers is in it to make money and they will rob you of your $22,000 if they can.

  • pure4

    Boutros!! LOL Thanks you’re one of the only ones making any sence on here. I’m going to have to use that quote!

  • pure4

    Relativly steep? They’re the worst in the world!!!

  • pure4

    Buzz Bishop, once again FUCK YOU!

  • Chris

    But in the end, Rogers is not a day care, if you can’t control your usage, then you gotta pay. Who cares if the rates are ridiculous, do you shop at all the high end stores, no, you have a choice. Start taking responsibility people.

  • ChrisShield5

    $500 or $200 are reasonable amounts. Anything over $1000 IMO is Fido’s fault. They should cut it off before that.

  • Been hosed by Rogers

    What utter bullshit! 22000 is absolute robbery, and we all know it. What we need is a real way to save ourselves from being taped by Robbers (Rogers) and this issue forces a possible solution. Competition is clearly not working and fair pricing for cellular service does not really exist