Toronto Healthcare Worker Gets $10,147 Cellphone Bill During COVID-19

One Toronto healthcare worker received a cellphone bill of over $10,000, a combination of her May-June billing period from Bell’s Virgin Mobile.

Sue Ellen Parrott is a personal support worker in a long-term care home for COVID-19 patients. She has been social distancing and living apart from her three kids and using her cellphone for calls, texts and video chats with FaceTime and Zoom. She says she hasn’t touched her kids since March.

When she received her bill from Virgin Mobile, she told Global News, “I thought it was some sick joke.”

Parrott says she uses Wi-Fi with her smartphone when possible, but according to Virgin Mobile, she used over 172 gigabytes of data in her May bill, which cost $8,726.34. Her postpaid June 4 bill with taxes was $1,167.32, and combined, she owed Virgin Mobile $10,147.41.

The healthcare worker says “I never go over six gigabytes a month,” as her monthly bill is normally $203.

Virgin Mobile told Global Parrott “reactivated her mobile data after it was blocked at $50 in overage charges and later added more data to her account on a few occasions.”

The CRTC Wireless Code says data overages are suspended once overages reach $50 in a billing cycle. Data can only be resumed after a customer agrees to pay overages.

Parrott says she did agree to pay for more data from Virgin—but says she was not told overages would reach into the thousands of dollars.

A Virgin Mobile spokesperson told Global, “we had reduced Ms. Parrott’s billable data by about half already and will further reduce her total data charges to $500.”

After Global News asked Virgin to consider reducing Parrott’s bill more, the company agreed to waive all remaining data charges.

Parrott said she was “losing sleep” over the massive phone bill, citing exhaustion from her 12-hour shifts at the long-term care home. “That’s amazing news. Still in shock,” she said, after being told her data charges were eliminated.