Woman Shocked with Whopping $45,000 Cellphone Bill from TELUS

When is it safe to sell your smartphone on Craigslist? Probably when you know the device is not longer tied to an account, right?

CTV News Toronto reports how one Toronto woman sold her phone on Craigslist, but ended up getting a nearly $46,000 bill from TELUS three months later.

The problem? The account tied to the phone (and we’re presuming the active SIM card was still inside) was not closed, so the buyer ended up racking major data overages in a three month span.

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CTV News’ Pat Foran explains how Christine Arsenault helped her sister Kelly sign a three year contract for a new cellphone with her business account because of a promo three years ago.

The contract ended last September, so Kelly thought her phone was clear and ready to be sold on Craigslist, assuming since the contract had expired, the phone had been cancelled. Turns out it wasn’t.

Kelly explained “It was just like a, feeling like, you were sick to your stomach, knowing that $45,000 is on your name.”

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Christine, however, was confident the account was closed: “We believed the contract was closed, we believed that we had no further charges.”

TELUS told CTV News it wasn’t usual for business accounts to have large bills, and it sent over a 120 overage notifications—and the person with the phone accepted the amount in charges, while consuming tens of thousands of megabytes of data.

TELUS spokesperson Shawn Hall told CTV News, no matter which provider you’re with—you need to make sure your contract is canceled if you sell your phone.

“If your phone leaves your possession, if you sell it, if it’s stolen, if you pass it to someone else in the household, give your carrier a call. Get that service cancelled, make sure it’s on the right plan as appropriate, so this kind of thing doesn’t happen.”

TELUS says it is actively tracking the buyer who amassed the massive bill—but because the future is friendly—the carrier is waiving the entire $45,585.83 billwhich would have been due today. Hall said “With an investigation, and ongoing in this case—we are forgiving the entire bill.”

In response, Christine told the news station “I’m so relieved, this has been such a stress. Thanks CTV!” Both sisters have since switched away from TELUS to a new carrier since the incident.

That was incredibly nice of TELUS to bail out these sisters. What do you think should have happened in this case?

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

  • JonathanM

    Why on earth would they assume the service is cancelled when the contract is over? It simply goes on as month-to-month.

    Also, if it’s true that they didn’t remove the sim card, then they have no one else to blame but themselves.

  • Z S

    What an idiot. She’s damn lucky Telus waived the bill…

  • Ashley Mann

    Hmmm. Did anyone else notice the Benylin bottle sitting on the microwave? The label is ssuspiciously turned perfectly straight facing the camera. Product placement?

  • FragilityG4

    I thought overages were capped now to avoid bills such as this?

  • Andy

    With new plans overages are capped but enabled again with customer acceptance of these overages.

  • johnnygoodface

    I just love Telus 🙂

  • SV650

    Actually with *user* acceptance of the overages. This is why kids rack up overages on their parent’s devices; no passcode is needed to accept extra charges.

  • SV650

    Also amazing they did not notice charges, even basic monthly charges, for the phone on the monthly bill since September.

  • Marc M.

    This whole “article” is product placement. I’m pretty sure we just read an ad for Telus and CTV.

  • Anthony

    How are ppl supposed to learn if companies keep letting ppl off? This was 100% negligence on the customer part. Stories like this seem to be happening more and more every year. To let her off 100% just isn’t right.

  • Lol

  • Nabeel

    Business accounts aren’t and weren’t included in that overage cap the CRTC mandated.

  • Domino67

    Telus waive the bill and she switches to another carrier…..I would make her pay the whole bill.

  • Anthony ?

    And so, yet another Canadian provides confirmation to the masses that some very stupid people live here. She’s damn lucky Telus let her off the hook, she’s 100% responsible for her own ignorance and frankly I don’t believe her excuse. Complete moron if you ask me.

  • FishTire

    You dummies wanna buy a bridge? TELUS is paying.

  • I hear they’ll also help out with deck renos

  • FishTire

    telus is all over my deck.

  • Share your secrets!

  • **runs to Shoppers**

  • FishTire

    Oh yes, once Telus came over and couldn’t believe how big my deck was. Telus said she’d never seem such a large deck. My deck kept comming up in the conversation. She kept talking to me about it from one end of my deck to the other. Yup, she was all over my deck.

  • FragilityG4

    That’s tight.

  • jf-laferriere

    And the award for “Idiot of the Year” goes to:……

  • Bob Zmuda

    Robbers would have taken 10% off… Then expected your gratitude.

  • Even CTV doesn’t really give the right advice. They keep repeating that you need to call and close the account if you’re selling your phone, but most people wouldn’t want to cancel their account if they’re upgrading their phone and sticking with the same carrier. Why no mention of removing your SIM card? That’s all that’s tied to your monthly account and charges, and something the new owner does not need. Of course if you’re planning on opening a different account with another carrier, obviously you’ll have to call and cancel your account, but most people would just transfer their SIM card over to the new phone and then you’re protected from this happening.

    …and while they’re giving advice on selling phones, they should also mention that you need to wipe your old phone before you sell it to someone… and how that’s completely different from your account that’s linked to your SIM card.

  • ComplacencyKills

    How nice of Telus, but how would they have ever collected this money?
    1) The woman sold her phone, so she did not accept the charges, the other person who bought the phone did. Yes, I understand that the woman would still be held accountable as the account was under her name, but it would be hard to prove because…

    2) The woman would request historical usage, and show that the spike of usage was extremely out of the norm.

    3) No judge would make this one woman liable for this amount, in fact, it would be thrown out, because they would ask Telus WHY they allowed $45,000 of data charges to accrue over 3 months on a single line account?

    And lastly,

    It just shows the SAD STATE of our Telecommunications environment, when something like this happens. While the woman is not blameless, that bill is pure exploitation, just like Uber surge pricing practice. Just because it’s in the terms and conditions, does not make it right.

    And lastly, small business accounts ARE part of the Wireless Code, let’s not spread misinformation here.

  • Moomur

    Some people shouldn’t be allowed to get cellphones.

  • phillymcg76

    Yeah, unless you are living under a rock, you should know that, when your contract expires, your plan keeps going on a month-to-month basis. Was this their first cellphone??

    Also, I’m with TELUS, and I think they’re MUCH better than the other two with customer service (i switched away from BELL years ago, and I’ve never had a problem with TELUS) and, even if it were just because they waived “the entire $45,585.83 bill”, why ON EARTH would they switch away to another provider. The fact that TELUS understood the situation and waived the entire bill is VERY decent of them. They didn’t have to do that at all.

    Good job TELUS. I was actually considering trying another provider next contract, just because, but this story makes me like you even more.

    Lastly, she only thanked CTV, but no mention of TELUS who did such a great thing for he? WOW!

    Well done TELUS, well done!

  • phillymcg76

    no doubt. Ungrateful! Especially after TELUS would’ve been TOTALLY in the right to make her pay the whole bill. haha. WOW!

  • phillymcg76

    haha, yeah!

  • fatiredflyer

    Telus didn’t “waive” the bill.
    They pass the charges on to the rest of their subscribers.