Prof Racks Up $2800 U.S. Roaming Bill, Fights Telus to Clear Charges

Last week we heard of a Vancouver doctor lose his smartphone in the U.S., then received a surprise $24,000 data bill, when he failed to report his device missing for two weeks.

Now, we have another story of a Telus customer, Kenneth Hart, who received a $2,816.63 data roaming bill, after using 600 MB of data while in the U.S.

Kenneth hart telus cellphone bill

Image via CBC News

A University of Windsor psychology professor, Hart contacted CBC News to help fight his $2,800 bill, which he said was unfair, because he did not approve the roaming charges, while in New England during January.

“I felt unfairly treated and I dug my heels in,” he said. “I was caught by surprise,” Hart explains, saying “I’m racking my brain as to where did the data usage come from?”

While in the U.S. during the Christmas holidays for three days, Hart said he did use roaming data, but he claimed his usage was light, to avoid expensive charges.

He says he never received a text message from Telus asking him to approve extra data charges—but he did get messages his roaming data charges were increasing. Since he didn’t approve any overages, he ignored the messages, suspecting they were bogus or errors on Telus’ part.

“I ignored all of them and I said, ‘This has got to be a mistake,’” he told CBC News.

Hart then contacted Telus asking about the high data bill, with a customer rep taking it down by half to $1,400, but he was unsatisfied, saying “I was insulted by that guy when he gave me a 50 per cent offer. I said, ‘I’m not paying a penny and I’m getting legal advice and I am going to fight this.'”

At that point, the Telus agent removed the 50 per cent offer. From here, Hart looked into hiring a lawyer to fight back, willing to spend money to do so, saying “I’m so angry that I’m willing to spend $1,500 and try and get it down to zero.”

After taking his case to CBC News, Telus dropped all the charges. The carrier retroactively added a U.S. roaming package to Hart’s plan, eliminating the bill entirely (he was credited $2747.88), two hours before responding to CBC News.

Telus spokeswoman Luiza Staniec told CBC News, “When a customer has a concern, we try to work with them positively, often to get them onto a plan that better meets their needs.”

The company explained Hart’s wireless account was a corporate account from the University of Windsor setup with “notify only” for extra charges. This means the CRTC Wireless Code cap of $100 roaming charges and text approvals did not apply to him.

The professor said “I have no memory of that,” when asked about his “notify only” account. The CRTC told CBC News individuals can bypass the data roaming charge cap, only if they “knowingly and expressly” opt out.

Hart only had to end up paying $68.75, happily telling CBC News “I feel wonderful,” adding “I’m very happy that I was my own consumer advocate and reached out to you, and that you went to bat for me.”

What do you think? Was the customer or Telus right in this situation?

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

  • Bleep Bloop

    I’m sorry, but this is silly. When you rack up that much in charges, they keep sending you messages saying “You have used $ worth of data today” at set increments. I’m assuming that over his 3 day trip, and a bill of $2800, he would have received multiple messages per day. Assuming that they were just a mistake and everything would sort itself is just plain negligent on his behalf. One message – OK I can see that. But anything more? That should have raised concern. I hate to defend Telus, but I’m siding with them.

  • It’s Me

    They can warn him all they like, if he never approved the charges then they are bogus.

    Even telus argument isn’t that he ignored the alerts because that doesn’t mean anything. They argued that the wireless code requirement to cap charges at $100 doesn’t apply to him because he’s on a corporate plan. That of course is silly of them to even try to argue, because the CRTC already ruled that regardless of you having a group plan or not, if you are paying the bill then you fall under the protection of the code.

  • Lnetreejim

    That the telcos cave in so fast and so frequently leads me to believe even they are embarrassed over their roaming charges.

  • raslucas

    Man… there’s got to be a middle here where the carriers will still get paid, but people don’t get hit with this ridiculousness… I feel like using data in the US if you don’t have a travel roaming plan should be opt-in, instead of opt-out…

    I think I just solved it… Took me 30 seconds.

  • awkpain

    Hmm Telus has sent me 47 messages and disabled my account twice. I’m assuming that something is wrong on their side. It couldn’t possibly be that I didn’t turn off the data on my phone…

    I do agree that it’s silly it defaults to opt-in but all of those options are available on their website. It’s one of those things I always check before leaving the country. It’s not rocket science.

  • cayaguy

    Oh god! here we go another person not understating how it all works yet complain when they’ve made a costly mistake! Personally I think it’s about time that TELUS defaults all accounts to have “ROAM READY” enabled as a default. I believe this would stop most of these media tattletales! You can’t expect to go to another country without charges this isn’t T-mobile!

  • Duster Dashed

    on one hand there should be personal accountability. On the other, $2800 is quite a lot.

    Maybe auto-convert someone to the roaming plan as soon as he hits the threshold. Then if he chooses to opt out of the roaming plan, automatically cut off his service until he agrees

  • Albertian

    They do now upon activation or renewal.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    They only cave if the media gets involved because they don’t want to look like a slimey company in public. For every case you hear about in the news, there are probably thousands of cases that TELUS insists that the customer pay their crazy made-up fees.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    I’m pretty sure TELUS thought of that – and said, “naw!”

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    Except that there is a reason TELUS made it opt-out. Money money money!

  • Hondanazi

    The dude has “crazy” eyes…….looks a little unbalanced. Oh wait he’s a psychology teacher! That’s it. Look at his other pic on the web. Who doesn’t check their data plan terms….really? In 2017?

  • Riley Freeman

    these stories are getting annoying. He ignored the notification. It has been very clear from day one that corp accounts are very different from personal accounts and a lot of the crtc rules dont apply.

  • Riley Freeman

    corp plans have different rules and nobody complains when it is in their favour. I have a corp plan with unlimited data, i accept all that comes with it like i cant upgrade, so i pay full price for my 256gb iphone 7 plus.

  • Riley Freeman

    most logical response in this thread.

  • Riley Freeman

    second most logic answer in this thread

  • mcfilmmakers

    They don’t have different rules when it comes to the 100$ cap

  • It’s Me

    According to the CRTC, if you are paying the bill, then no, corp plans do not have different rules as far as the wireless code. Only when it is paid for by the company (and even then, only when the number of lines if over 50) are the not covered by the wireless code.

  • Bruce Riddick

    Thank everyone that this came to light so we can take our own appropriate measures when travelling. Agreements and roaming practices are complex. Most often when travelling I simply turn off data roaming altogether and stop in at a free WiFi spot (Starbucks etc) from time to time. Only had trouble once when we had a medical emergency in Bolivia and I bought a roaming package on the spot from my telco. Paid what I had to at the best price available, but still costly.

  • Bill___A

    He ignored the notifications and obviously didn’t do enough to mitigate the risk. I don’t like the roaming rates, but we’ve had mobile phones for 20 years, people need to think when they cross a border.

  • TwitchyPuppy

    Yeah but if he knows he can whine to the media and have his roaming fees waived..

  • TwitchyPuppy

    Him ????

  • TwitchyPuppy

    Not rocket science, indeed, but not everyone is that responsible.

  • TwitchyPuppy

    TELUS did want to meet him halfway but he declined.