Canadian Wireless Providers Allow Minors to Authorize Data Overage Charges



According to a new report from CBC News, Canadian wireless providers are allowing minors to approve data overage charges without any acknowledgement from the account holder.

Rosemary Pick was surprised when her wireless bill contained over $1,700 in data chargers. Pick thought it was a mistake and called Bell to inquiry. Upon calling the wireless company, she found out that a family member on her plan, which turned out to be her son, approved the wireless charges. In a statement, she said:

“How could that happen? I had never approved that and I really can’t afford to pay for it.”

In an investigation conducted by CBC Marketplace reveals that anyone, including minors, are allowed to authorize data overage charges that could add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Canadian wireless customers continue to pay some of the highest prices in the world. The Wireless Code in 2013 was updated to protect customers from out-of-control bills by requiring wireless providers to cut off data after a customer reaches $50 in overage charges.

In order to exceed the $50 overage charge the carrier must have consent. According to CBC’s Marketplace, Rogers, Bell and Telus will allow anyone on family share plans to exceed the $50 overage charge by simply replying “YES” to an automated text message.

When Pick complained to Bell, the wireless provider offered to refund half of the bill. However, after she spoke with the Commissioner for Complaints For Telecommunication Services (CCTS), the overage charges were completely removed from her bill.

Kelly Sudsbury, who has a shared plan with her teenage daughter, said:

“That is shocking to me. It makes no sense at all. Of course teenagers are going to say yes.”

Rogers, Bell and Telus all declined to speak with Marketplace on camera about the issue. However, they all say that they have plans in place to assist parents in monitoring data usage.


  • ihaydentaylor

    Out of generosity Bell payed half of that bill, no way should they have to pay for someones ignorance. Educate your kids about +50$ in data charges!

  • Jason Reid

    Bell refunded the total amt. after she wrote a letter to the ccts it stated at the end of the show. Ccts helped me before as well in a different situation. Great organization for the most part.

  • I kinda agree. If you say “Of course teenagers are going to say Yes” then you already know your teenager shouldn’t have a phone, or no data at least, just text and voice which is unlimited in most plans these days now.

  • wakeup

    both of you are retarded. These are minors and who knows maybe the parents took away their phone but she still has to pay the invoice. Bell should know that a minor can’t approve the overage and probably working on changing their policy. The main account holder should be the only person to approve anything affecting their account

  • Difference of opinion my friend.
    Just because we all don’t share the same frame of mind, isn’t a very good excuse for childish name calling eh? 😛

  • Tony

    I agree with him, Tom. What makes u think the parent didn’t educate the child. The problem here is Bell and they quickly refunded as they knew it can backfire on them.
    So yes, this is not about a difference of opinion, its common sense.

  • FragilityG4

    At the end of the day the only one(s) that should be allowed to approve overages is the account/credit card holder and any person(s) he or she has designated. Should parents educate? Yes. Do kids always listen? Absolutely not. Should the Pig Three be allowed to exploit children disobeying their parents? Not a chance!

  • I do agree with you, but that’s also why I mentioned in the first place that I don’t agree with that the carriers allowed, but parents need to be responsible too. I’m kinda sitting on a 50/50 blame here. I would point the finger at both parties and say they need to get their game together.

    To me, it’s just like those roaming horror stories where someone get a $12,000 bill for data use in another country. As customers, as parents, I just feel we need to be aware of the risks and take appropriate action to avoid them. Again, I’m at a 50/50 split. 🙂

  • aRhyno

    As much as I hate that anyone can rack up a 1700$ bill for something that probably cost a few bucks to the carrier and that they prey on these things. I still think any parent that gives their kid a phone that’s not prepaid is a little retarded. I won’t give my kid anything other then prepaid. If they use up their data in 3 days hen tough. The parent should of learned a lesson here and paid some portion of that bill.