Ontario Man Gets $25,000 TELUS Bill After Selling iPad with SIM Inside

Note to self: never sell my cellular iPad without removing an active SIM card. This is probably the message Michael Koonin from Woodbridge, Ontario, should have whispered to himself in the mirror one day.

Koonin, a salesman for Salbro Bottle, had a company cellular iPad that normally would get monthly bills from TELUS between $40 to $50. But last month, the company was shocked to receive a $25,000 bill from roaming charges.

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What happened was Koonin sold his iPad on eBay to someone in Escondido, California, for $200 reports The Star. The problem? He forgot to remove the cellular iPad’s SIM card—which was still connected to TELUS—and also did not inform his employer he was planning to sell the tablet he no longer used.

This meant his American buyer was able to continue to use roaming data on Koonin’s iPad at the company’s expense, racking up costly data overages.

Koonin said “it never occurred to me,” about the SIM card which remained in the iPad, despite resetting the tablet to erase his personal data.

Salbro asked TELUS for relief from the $25,000 bill, which was dropped to $10,000, based on the longstanding business relationship both companies had.

Paul Saltz, vice-president of sales and marketing at Salbro, wanted to know why the company was not alerted immediately of the spike in roaming data charges (similar to how credit card issuers alert of possible fraud), instead of finding out one week later when the bill arrived, adding he still finds at $10,000, the charges to be unfair.

But Emily Hamer, senior communications manager at TELUS, said “Unless the SIM card is cancelled, we would assume the original user is still using services and accepting additional data charges,” noting data overage alerts were sent—but they went to the iPad, not the company.

Unfortunately, the CRTC Wireless Code, which has data overage protections in place, does not apply to business accounts. TELUS says it’s not unusual for business accounts to see a data spike when roaming outside of Canada.

TELUS also recently implemented a system where overage notifications could be sent to email addresses set by administrators, but Hamer said “It appears this particular business has not enabled that function.”

To nobody’s surprise, the California buyer has ignored Koonin’s repeated attempts at making contact. Despite reporting the incident to police and his insurance company, he is now responsible for the entire $10,000 bill, as his employer is not paying for the mistake.

Canadians and data overage stories keep popping up in headlines. A recent report by CBC News noted how minors are able to authorize data overages, since all that is required is replying ‘yes’ to text message alerts on Rogers, TELUS and Bell.

A few years back, this dad was able to negotiate his $22,000 data roaming bill with Fido down to $200, after his son racked up the charges watching YouTube while on vacation in Mexico.

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

  • Rafael

    really haha omg poor guy

  • He at least restored his iPad to factory before selling it. But I can see how a simple thing as removing the SIM card could happen if you are forgetful. Definitely ouch.

  • Matt

    It’s hard to really pick a definitive side here

    On one hand, the stupidity of not removing the sim card or at least calling telus to let them know to cancel service should be a factor
    On the other hand, telus’ ways of letting people know about overages and roaming and such are a bit ridiculous…. No caps? Not realizing the amount creeping up and letting the owner know in a less archaic way then a simple text to the device?

  • Bafoon

    wait what? how does one blame Telus here?

    – Company didn’t have email alerts setup
    – Company didn’t keep track of their inventory being sold off
    – Seller has a brain fart and doesn’t remove SIM

    What exactly did you want Telus doing here? Sending alerts to which device? The device that was sold and is now sitting in the states?

  • Bafoon

    theoretically all stupid mistakes are really because one small/tiny/inconsequential moment of miscalculation/misjudgement – there should be absolutely no reason why this guy shouldn’t be wearing a dunce hat throughout this ordeal

  • Tim

    The guy was an idiot. However, many providers outside of Canada use SIM pins. Perhaps that’s something that should be adopted up here by the cell companies. That way if you wipe your device, the pin needs to be entered.

    Secondly, this dude’s $25,000 bill probably represented a gigabyte or two of data transfer; something that you can get for $100 or so if you plan for the roaming. With that in mind, I fully believe that the markup in these situations is is at least 95% above the actual cost to the provider. The CRTC should ban these ‘gotcha’ scenarios by at least mandating the provider cut off access when a much lower bill has been incurred.