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Telus Customer Loses Smartphone in USA, Gets $24,000 Data Overages Bill

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Vancouver doctor Jesse Janssen recently was shocked to find his Telus bill showing $24,225.80, instead of the usual $67 he pays monthly.

Jesse janssen cellphone telus consent wireless

What happened, according to Janssen to CBC News, is he lost his cellphone while in the U.S. back in August. He says someone stole his phone, managed to crack his passcode, then ran up his roaming data charges. The doctor says the fraudulently user texted “Yes” to data overages, which is how his bill ran up past $24,000 with 8GB of overages.

Janssen did not report his phone as stolen or missing for two weeks, as he though he had lost his phone and it would turn up.

But when his Telus bill arrived, he said “I was shocked and I was in disbelief,” adding “It was so high, it was almost funny.”

So, Janssen called Telus about his mammoth bill in September, hoping the overages would be dropped. “Somebody used my phone fraudulently,” he says. “I was hoping that there would be some degree of protection afforded to me.”

Telus told him it had received proof of consent from his phone, which is how the $24,156.91 bill in data overages got racked up.

Janssen was surprised when Telus informed him that it had received permission, via his cellphone, to run up $24,156.91 in data roaming charges. He argues he did not provide permission as he was back in Canada at the time.

The CRTC Wireless Code protects Canadians from data overages, capping them at $50, while roaming is capped at $100. But customers can agree to overages if they text consent.

Janssen says while Telus asks for a verification PIN over the phone, this is not needed when agreeing to data overages.

“They made me verify who I was constantly, but to charge me $24,000, there was no verification,” says Janssen. “It could be anybody.”

CBC News says Janssen contacted Telus for a week, before the company offered a “goodwill gesture” and lowered the bill down to $1,124. Telus says this offer was made because Janssen did not report his phone missing at the time when data charges occurred.

Despite the discount, Jansen believed the Telus offer was unfair and wanted it to be $500—what it would cost if he had subscribed to a travel data plan. He escalated his complaint to the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS). Telus gave the same offer of $1,124 and said “the offer is more than fair and reasonable,” considering Janssen did not report his phone stolen immediately.

“Paying what the data would cost at a travel plan rate is ample punishment,” says Janssen, who ended up agreeing on the Telus offer and paying the $1,124 bill.

He says his phone was lost in July at a party in Chicago, and he did not report his smartphone as stolen or missing for two weeks. He assumed hotel workers would find his phone. He also says he mistakenly believed if he reported his Samsung phone stolen, it would be deactivated permanently.

Janssen says the CRTC Wireless Code should have a way to verify the user before agreeing to data overages.

“My example illustrates so clearly the flaw in this,” he says. “This idea that whoever is holding the phone can type ‘yes’ with no verification whatsoever who you are is absolutely unbelievable.”

TL;DR: Doctor loses phone in USA with weak passcode (or no passcode at all?), doesn’t report it for two weeks. Gets $24,000 data overage bill. Complains to Telus and CCTS. Gets bill slashed to $1,124 and ends up paying the bill. Contacts CBC News to share his story.

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  • sukisszoze

    From $24k to $1k looks more than fair considering he didn’t report his phone lost for 2 weeks. I would be in a panic if I can’t find my phone after a few hours let alone for 2 weeks from an oversea trip.

  • Mr Dog

    People are so dumb is saddens me

  • McHuman

    “No no no.. it’s everyone’s mistake but me”

  • Agreed. Most people would report their lost/stolen phones immediately, let alone wait two weeks.

  • BLAME MILLENNIALS

  • gtasscarlo

    I’m not one to defend Telus ever. This is more on his part to report it. If his phone gets stolen and he leaves it for 2 weeks, it’s not the carriers responsibility. A lot is left out, how did his phone get stolen. So much fishy parts to the story.

  • Marco

    yeah, something is missing from his story. Being a doctor, he loses his phone and doesn’t report for 2 weeks? give me a break… he’s obviously not telling the truth. $24k dropped down to about $1K, that’s a very fair deal.

  • sukisszoze

    The real story may be..forgot to get roaming package or connect to WiFi, had a hell of a good time at the party, steamed some videos using data..received text messages and just clicked to accept..whatever..I’m on vacation..got bill later.

  • sukisszoze

    If he’s a doctor, aren’t all doctors always on call? How can he not have a cell phone for 2 weeks? So he carries 2 cell phones around with him..hmm.

  • jay

    What was he thinking ? His phone will walk to him? First thing you do is look where the phone is and lock it.

  • cayaguy

    Why didn’t he have a passcode on his phone? TOTALLY HIS OWN FAULT

  • Ian

    If he’s a DOCTOR, please remind me not to be treated professionally by this “brain dead individual”… lol

  • Taxpayer

    Any chance that this is an Alberta MLA we are talking about?

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    So the markup on the data plan is $23,500 ($24,000 – $500) if you don’t buy the data as a travel plan. The very same data. That’s 48X the price!

    Imagine if it worked like that at McDonalds. You could get the Big Mac Combo for $10 – sounds fair enough. But if you forget to order it as a combo, you’re charged $480! Would you say oh geez, my fault for not ordering the combo – here, take my $480 for the Big Mac meal. All my fault.

    If you think that’s fair, you deserve to be a Telus customer.

  • Victorious Secret

    Obviously you didn’t read the story…..
    “He says someone stole his phone, managed to crack his passcode, then ran up his roaming data charges”

  • Wall Man

    So Telus has no Roam like home plan like Rogers? I thought they had something or it could be his Telus plan doesn’t offer it. Yup, Telus Easy Roam $7/day just enroll your phone. Not sure on those details.

    Then as someone else has pointed out, talk about Roaming charges! $$$

    Hey Dr. you can afford the 1K bill. Seriously and you had a basic pattern lock for your Samsung phone. Note they did not mention which model, cause if it was a fingerprint sensor, that would be even worse.

    He only has one point in that a pin should be used to agree to data overages.

  • cayaguy

    Despite the article stating the obvious I highly doubt he had a passcode, or the passcode was cracked.. It sounds like a lie to corroborate his already lame attempt at getting refunded when he’s FULLY at fault, two weeks. phh

  • cayaguy

    Telus has roam ready (like rogers roam like home) but you have to add it to your plan, unless he had a business account which doesn’t have the same roaming capabilities

  • sully54

    2 things:
    – find my iPhone wasn’t activated.
    – he didn’t report his phone as stolen to Telus.

    People need to do their due diligence when it comes to protecting their own interests. In this case, this doctor basically had a “wait and see” approach hoping his phone would eventually turn up. I sure hope that’s not the same advice he gives to his patients.

    He’s lucky to only be paying a fraction of what he rightfully owes for his own negligence.

  • clee666

    Password protects the content in your phone, but doesn’t prevent anyone to take out the SIM card to use in another phone. He should have reported it, I wouldn’t have trusted hotel employees.

  • Salinger

    I think there’s more to this story than we’re hearing. Two weeks?! He waited two weeks to report his phone stolen, and in that time never went online to ensure there was no usage on it? (I can do that on Rogers, I’m assuming you can on TELUS as well). And then lodged a CCTS complaint but dropped it and just paid $1k+ when he felt he was in the right? There is definitely something more going on here.

    I do think he has one valid point though, I think there should be more than just a simple text reply to accept overage data charges, especially when we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars! Even if there was some simple PIN system through 611 or something. It would be a slight inconvenience when you legitimately wanted to allow overages, but still, the safety aspect outweighs that.

  • tHoj101

    It legit sounds like he’s full of shit. Why did he agree to pay the $1000 at the end of it. Not a very decent doctor if he can lose his phone for 2 weeks and not think twice about it. I’m sure it wasn’t a big deal, no one needs to get a hold of him or anything, he’s just a doctor. Like come on.

  • Nick

    I think customer service should try to contact any customer via call/email if a bill that’s normally 70$ ends up being 20k. No company on the planet can justify those kinds of charges, whether the situation is complicated or not.

  • He said it was a $600 Samsung phone.

  • Adrian

    I like how he’s holding an iPhone in the photo… lol

  • Yeah, it confuses the story. Sounds like he got an iPhone to replace his lost Samsung…

  • sully54

    Fair enough. However, Samsung has the same capability as find my iPhone (incidentally called ‘Find my Mobile’. Go figure…) which

  • sully54

    That’s the other thing that gives me pause.

    If I lose my phone, first thing I’d be looking into is to get my account moved onto a new SIM card. This deactivates the one in my lost phone. If I’m travelling and I can’t do that, I report my phone as lost with the carrier. But either way, there are ways to mitigate what happened to him.

  • Bill___A

    When you are carrying around a mobile phone, you need to pay attention. First of all, I suspect he was not on “Easy Roam” which would have made his charges much less. What this tells me is he’s not paying attention. As to losing your phone in another country and not reporting it stolen, or at least suspending service, not being able to track it, not being able to figure out if it was on, and someone “guessing” your code? – yes, Telus should not allow people to just reply to texts to allow overages, and there should be some sort of credit limit for the account, which should not be as high as $24,000, but on the other hand, the end user has a responsibility in this too. When Telus allowed him on their network, allowed him to run up expenses on their roaming partners, etc, there is an inherent responsibility on both sides to protect from losses due to fraud. This customer clearly made absolutely no effort to do so, complaining only when he received a large bill. So the wireless companies should change some things, but customers should act in a responsible manner too…

  • Atomix

    “Managed to crack his passcode” …. I suppose it’s possible… But very unlikely. Maybe no passcode? Or?

  • Atomix

    Also, who would wait for 2 weeks to see if your mislaid phone turned up? I might wait max 24 hours, then I’d call my cell company. Who can lock it until I call back. I’m sorry for this guy, but it’s a very odd sort of story.

  • mcfilmmakers

    Thats not the point. The point is that anyone can consent to overages for your account without any proof that you wee the one that gave the consent.

  • Sam Chiu

    It would be better to say “that is another point” as both are valid. Waiting 2 weeks before reporting was his negligent, Telus not requiring better method of authentication is a “bad on Telus”.

  • TwitchyPuppy

    Or 1234, 0000, 9876. Probably that kind of password.

  • Janker

    No, all doctors are not always on call.

  • CMfly

    You guys are all missing the point… Why wasn’t the TL;DR: at the top of the article?! 🙂

  • Haha…it has greater effect at the bottom! 😛

  • Riley Freeman

    dont feel sorry for the guy at all. He should have reported his phone lost for this exact reason ESPECIALLY since he didnt have a password on it.

    Companies always get stuck looking like the bad guy in silly situations like this when its clearly the customers fault.

  • Riley Freeman

    its your responsibility to have a password on your phone and not share it. So no, not anyone can consent, just you unless you’re careless which he was

  • Andrea Alexander

    He should have reported it lost. His fault and I don’ t think Telus should lower the bill any more than they have.

  • JDoodles

    Should have reported it stolen/lost. This is an adult we are dealing with. When you do not report your phone lost/stolen and you do not have a secure enough pin, you can’t blame the carrier for thinking it’s YOU that’s racking up all those charges.

    As for ALL carriers, maybe having the flexibility to setup spending limits in all accounts will be good as well. I mean, when account is first set up, ask customer if they want to put a block or be notified when balance comes to a specific pre-agreed to price…AND actually have the system capable of doing that, let’s be honest, we know carriers do, that’s why they can set up credit limit monitoring in accounts.

  • mcfilmmakers

    Yes, anyone can consent. What proof exists that you were the one who put in the password yourself? What if it was someone he trusted and betrayed him? These things happen and it isnt on the user when another maliciously exploits his password.

  • Riley Freeman

    everything you said here is ridiculous

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