What would you do with a $54,000 phone bill?!?


Last week, I blogged about my $577 phone bill from Cingular. Of course, it was a mistake…corrected bill was a more manageable $115ish which included the $40 voice plan, $40 data plan, $18 activation fee and the rest were all the fees and taxes.

I had nothing to complain about.

I’m scanning my referrers and I see a lot of traffic from this link: SomethingAwful.com. Now I don’t know about you, but when I see 200 incoming hits over a couple of hours from a domain like that, it makes me a little nervous.

Here’s the gist:

…when I found out that Cingular was offering these laptop cards that would let you connect to their towers and get “broadband” speeds. I order one, and they tell me that for 79.99 I would get an unlimited transfer rate account. Sounds good to me. They even tell me there’s a special and I’ll only have to pay 59.99. Even better. The card comes, I buy a PCMCIA to PCI adapter, and besides a few disconnect errors, it works quite well. People warned me that my ping would suck, but it really hasn’t, and I’ve got decent
speeds, even if they’re not great. I can finally end game raid in WoW.

Now today. I take my dog out for her morning walk to the mailboxes, and my bill is there. It’s $54,006.47. And it’s only for 10 days.

WoW indeed. Someone Googled and found my similar post which explains the referrer traffic.

Later in the thread, the poster got his problem fixed in the exact same manner that I did:

 “So what can I help you with today sir?”
“I have a problem with my bill.”
“Ok let me see here. What seems to be wrong with it?”
“It’s 54 thousand dollars.”

It basically boiled down to them not being able to figure out how it got originally messed up, putting me on the proper plan, and forwarding the rest of the problem to the regional manager’s manager. I’ll receive an e-mail within 24 hours, but I’m assured that it’ll be fixed.

Frankly, I think the FCC or whatever agency investigates these things needs to look into the matter. Is Cingular intentionally offering supposedly “unlimited” access and then hiding the gotchas in small print to rack up the bills? I complained and got my bill down out of the stratosphere quite easily. But if I had only gone over a few dollars, or I was made of money and didn’t check my bill with a fine tooth comb every month I might have paid it and not said a word. It does raise the question as to whether
these are isolated cases or indicative of a serious problem. Do other carriers do this?


One response to “What would you do with a $54,000 phone bill?!?”

  1. Sprint does things like this with voice plans. I think the basic idea is that cell companies screw everyone who doesn’t use the fine toothed comb method you mentioned. The FCC probably should care but given the current political administration I find it unlikely that they will.