A Houston mom opens her kids’ cell phone bill finding nearly $10,000 dollars in charges. How in the world can two kids rack up a $9,530 dollar cell phone bill?
Well, it has to do with Facebook, text messages and vacation. The family just returned from a trip to Israel. “We went to the Dead Sea. We camped out in a bedouin tent. We rode camels. We fell in love with a puppy at a bedouin tent. You fell in love with a puppy at a bedouin tent” says brother and sister Sam and Sarah. As the 13 year old teases his 11 year old sister about a puppy she wanted to bring home to Houston.
In addition to the puppy and the tours, the kids also spent plenty of time using their cell phones. “I played games” says Sarah. “I listened to music” says Sam. So where was Mom when the kids were on Facebook, texting and playing on-line games? Dr. Cindy Ivanhoe was right there. She even snapped a few pictures featuring the kids with their phones. She thought… “Well the bill will be a little higher but I really had no concept of how much higher that bill could be” says Ivanhoe. How much was the bill? More than $9500. It grew to more than $9700 with late fees. Can you imagine opening a bill like that with your name on it? “It was sickening. It was really one of those moments where you just take a breath and feel sick to your stomach” says Ivanhoe.
Dr. Ivanhoe says she has since learned there were alerts sent to her kids’ phones. “It just said like you’re being charged $50 for roaming” says Sarah. Ivanhoe says she never received a warning. “The person paying the bill needs to be the person getting the alerts” says Ivanhoe. Verizon Wireless has agreed to take $4,000 off the bill. Sam and Sarah, in the meantime, have come up with a list of ways to help mom pay. “Could be dog walkers. Me and doubtfully Sam could babysit”.
According to Verizon several automated alerts are sent to every phone on the plan when you travel internationally. A spokesperson for the company says global roaming rates are so expensive because your cell phone company has to use another carrier to connect you. Therefore, the fees depend on what country you’re in and how much that host carrier decides to charge. Verizon suggests you find out international rates before you travel. Cindy Ivanhoe couldn’t agree more