• This is a political forum that is non-biased/non-partisan and treats every persons position on topics equally. This debate forum is not aligned to any political party. In today's politics, many ideas are split between and even within all the political parties. Often we find ourselves agreeing on one platform but some topics break our mold. We are here to discuss them in a civil political debate. If this is your first visit to our political forums, be sure to check out the RULES. Registering for debate politics is necessary before posting. Register today to participate - it's free!

Shocking phone-bill horror stories motivate regulators

Aunt Spiker

Cheese
DP Veteran
Joined
Oct 20, 2009
Messages
28,431
Reaction score
16,987
Location
Sasnakra
Gender
Female
Political Leaning
Moderate
Shocking phone-bill horror stories motivate regulators | The Upshot Yahoo! News - Yahoo! News
Kerfye Pierre's thanks for helping out victims of Haiti's earthquake? A $35,000 bill from T-Mobile. Pierre tells CNN that she racked up $35,000 while texting family and friends in Haiti with the news that she had just survived the devastating earthquake. T-Mobile offered to waive voice plans for Americans who were volunteering there after the crippling disaster, but Pierre said she didn't realize that the waiver didn't include text messages.
The company has now reduced her bill to $5,000, but Pierre says she still can't pay that.

This isn't the first- or last - story like this we've had.

You know - you should KNOW WHAT YOUR CHARGES are before you USE your phone. It's not *their fault* - they didn't fraudulently present their selves to YOU.
Constant customers use their ignorance to try to wheedle out of things that *they decide to do* and then paint their cellphone company (or bank, water, electric) as if they're the *bad guy.*
 

rivrrat

Goddess of Bacon
DP Veteran
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,988
Reaction score
6,593
Location
Charlottesville, VA
Gender
Female
Political Leaning
Undisclosed
Dear ****ing god. She said, "I would be OK to pay for it if everything was disclosed, and I knew upfront that, if I used this part of the service [data and texts], I would be charged," she told CNN. "But I did not know."

She didn't know?

"T-Mobile offered to waive voice plans for Americans who were volunteering there after the crippling disaster,"

Is texting VOICE? I think not. This is not an example of a big bad company doing something sneaky. They waived costs for VOICE plans. She could have ****ing CALLED all of her friends/family and not paid for it. But no, she chose to text. Which is NOT "voice".

Idiots like her are why we have warning labels like "do no use in shower" on hair dryers.
 

Kandahar

Enemy Combatant
DP Veteran
Joined
Jul 20, 2005
Messages
20,688
Reaction score
7,320
Location
Washington, DC
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Liberal
Shocking phone-bill horror stories motivate regulators | The Upshot Yahoo! News - Yahoo! News


This isn't the first- or last - story like this we've had.

You know - you should KNOW WHAT YOUR CHARGES are before you USE your phone. It's not *their fault* - they didn't fraudulently present their selves to YOU.
Constant customers use their ignorance to try to wheedle out of things that *they decide to do* and then paint their cellphone company (or bank, water, electric) as if they're the *bad guy.*

Actually, the cell phone companies ARE the bad guy. Yes, you should know what your charges are...but that's not always as easy as it sounds. They CONSTANTLY misrepresent their policies, conveniently forgetting to tell their customers about extra charges. I've never had T-Mobile, but I know it's that way with Verizon and AT&T and I'm assuming it's the same here. All four of the telecom companies are generally unconcerned about their customers, and often display questionable ethics. It seems to me that if one of them would start competing on the basis of customer service they could make a lot of money.

Fun fact: The Better Business Bureau receives more complaints about the telecom industry than any other industry in the country.
 
Last edited:

Kandahar

Enemy Combatant
DP Veteran
Joined
Jul 20, 2005
Messages
20,688
Reaction score
7,320
Location
Washington, DC
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Liberal
Dear ****ing god. She said, "I would be OK to pay for it if everything was disclosed, and I knew upfront that, if I used this part of the service [data and texts], I would be charged," she told CNN. "But I did not know."

She didn't know?

"T-Mobile offered to waive voice plans for Americans who were volunteering there after the crippling disaster,"

Is texting VOICE? I think not. This is not an example of a big bad company doing something sneaky. They waived costs for VOICE plans. She could have ****ing CALLED all of her friends/family and not paid for it. But no, she chose to text. Which is NOT "voice".

Idiots like her are why we have warning labels like "do no use in shower" on hair dryers.

T-Mobile should just stop being dicks and wave the text plans anyway. Text messages are the biggest ripoff in the entire industry; they cost the telecom companies literally nothing to send. T-Mobile should have waived the charge when she first complained about it, for no other reason than to placate a pissed off customer. Now that the story has hit the media, they're almost certain to back down.
 

rivrrat

Goddess of Bacon
DP Veteran
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,988
Reaction score
6,593
Location
Charlottesville, VA
Gender
Female
Political Leaning
Undisclosed
T-Mobile should just stop being dicks and wave the text plans anyway. Text messages are the biggest ripoff in the entire industry; they cost the telecom companies literally nothing to send. T-Mobile should have waived the charge when she first complained about it, for no other reason than to placate a pissed off customer. Now that the story has hit the media, they're almost certain to back down.

Yeah, they're "almost certain" to back down because they have an idiot for a customer who doesn't understand the difference between voice and text.

As for it being a ripoff, apparently it's not since so many people text and are willing to pay for the service. If and when everyone stops using the service, then they might drop prices, but as long as we're all willing to pay these companies to provide us with a service we want, they are going to keep charging for it. As well they should. It's simply good business.
 

Kandahar

Enemy Combatant
DP Veteran
Joined
Jul 20, 2005
Messages
20,688
Reaction score
7,320
Location
Washington, DC
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Liberal
Yeah, they're "almost certain" to back down because they have an idiot for a customer who doesn't understand the difference between voice and text.

Actually they're almost certain to back down for not reversing such an exorbitant charge from a frantic customer, when it cost them literally nothing. It might be different for a company that had to spend a lot of money on this customer for all of those services, but that isn't the case here. Furthermore, she was in Haiti helping poor people. How would that play in the media? I guess they'll find out now.

Their customer service people are idiots for not just reversing the charge in the first place. I've received some questionable charges from Verizon before, and usually they've been pretty decent about removing them when I complained even if it was probably my fault (although sometimes I had to escalate it from the CSR to the supervisor...apparently they aren't big on employee empowerment). Blaming the customer is not usually a good business strategy, especially in an industry like telecom where the plans are quite complex, most customers don't bother to read the fine print, and there is little brand loyalty.

rivrrat said:
As for it being a ripoff, apparently it's not since so many people text and are willing to pay for the service. If and when everyone stops using the service, then they might drop prices, but as long as we're all willing to pay these companies to provide us with a service we want, they are going to keep charging for it. As well they should. It's simply good business.

Yeah, while your whole Adam Smith routine is fine if you're talking about economic policy (in most cases), that isn't what we're talking about here. I didn't say they shouldn't charge for it; of course they are going to milk their customers for every dime they can. Doesn't change the fact that it's a ripoff for consumers.
 
Last edited:

rivrrat

Goddess of Bacon
DP Veteran
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,988
Reaction score
6,593
Location
Charlottesville, VA
Gender
Female
Political Leaning
Undisclosed
Their customer service people are idiots for not just reversing the charge in the first place. I've received some questionable charges from Verizon before, and usually they've been pretty decent about removing them when I complained even if it was probably my fault (although sometimes I had to escalate it from the CSR to the supervisor...apparently they aren't big on employee empowerment). Blaming the customer is not usually a good business strategy, especially in an industry like telecom where the plans are quite complex, most customers don't bother to read the fine print, and there is little brand loyalty.
And they dropped the charges from 35,000 to 5000.

Yeah, while your whole Adam Smith routine is fine if you're talking about economic policy (in most cases), it's a horrible business strategy. I didn't say they shouldn't charge for it; of course they are going to milk their customers for every dime they can. Doesn't change the fact that it's a ripoff.

It's not a ripoff as long as people willingly pay for it. A service is worth as much as someone is willing to pay.
 

Kandahar

Enemy Combatant
DP Veteran
Joined
Jul 20, 2005
Messages
20,688
Reaction score
7,320
Location
Washington, DC
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Liberal
And they dropped the charges from 35,000 to 5000.

Doesn't change the fact that they're still charging her a huge amount (much more than she expected) for something that literally costs them nothing. I could understand them not backing down if it was in an industry where providing a service costs the company a lot of money...but that isn't the case here.

rivrrat said:
It's not a ripoff as long as people willingly pay for it. A service is worth as much as someone is willing to pay.

Again, if you want to do the Adam Smith routine when talking about economic policy, that's one thing. But I'm talking about corporate strategy. What's are some great ways to piss off your customer base? 1) Charging them huge, unexpected amounts for services that cost the provider nothing. 2) Refusing to back down when the customer frantically calls customer service. 3) Doing it when the customer has been helping out in Haiti.

Yep, that's bound to piss people off. And I don't think a few boilerplate quotes from Adam Smith are going to make their customers less angry.
 
Last edited:

rivrrat

Goddess of Bacon
DP Veteran
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,988
Reaction score
6,593
Location
Charlottesville, VA
Gender
Female
Political Leaning
Undisclosed
Doesn't change the fact that they're still charging her a huge amount (much more than she expected) for something that literally costs them nothing. I could understand them not backing down if it was in an industry where providing a service costs the company a lot of money...but that isn't the case here.



Again, if you want to do the Adam Smith routine when talking about economic policy, that's one thing. But I'm talking about corporate strategy. What's are some great ways to piss off your customer base? 1) Charging them huge, unexpected amounts for services that cost the provider nothing. 2) Refusing to back down when the customer frantically calls customer service. 3) Doing it when the customer has been helping out in Haiti.

Yep, that's bound to piss people off. And I don't think a few boilerplate quotes from Adam Smith are going to make their customers less angry.
I have no idea who Adam Smith is and why you keep bringing him up or what he even remotely has to do with the facts I've stated.

You said all companies shouldn't be charging for much for texting because it was a ripoff because it didn't cost them much. I'm saying that it's not a ripoff as long as people want the service and are willing to pay for it. I don't know what Adam Smith has to do with that fact. And, I don't know what "economic policy" has to do with that fact since I'm not even remotely referencing economic policy. I'm talking about businesses.
 

Kandahar

Enemy Combatant
DP Veteran
Joined
Jul 20, 2005
Messages
20,688
Reaction score
7,320
Location
Washington, DC
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Liberal
I have no idea who Adam Smith is and why you keep bringing him up or what he even remotely has to do with the facts I've stated.

That's not surprising.

rivrrat said:
You said all companies shouldn't be charging for much for texting because it was a ripoff because it didn't cost them much. I'm saying that it's not a ripoff as long as people want the service and are willing to pay for it. I don't know what Adam Smith has to do with that fact. And, I don't know what "economic policy" has to do with that fact since I'm not even remotely referencing economic policy. I'm talking about businesses.

Right. And from a business perspective, what do you think is a better business strategy?

A) Educating your customers about the economics of text messaging, and explaining to a frantic customer who volunteered in Haiti (and now, to the media as well) why the whole mess is all her fault.
B) Just reversing the damn charge, since it didn't cost the company anything in the first place.
 

FilmFestGuy

DP Veteran
Joined
Dec 13, 2009
Messages
2,120
Reaction score
1,244
Location
Nashville, TN
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Slightly Liberal
And they dropped the charges from 35,000 to 5000.



It's not a ripoff as long as people willingly pay for it. A service is worth as much as someone is willing to pay.

It also doesn't change the fact that it's ****ty customer service to even allow a customer's bill to get that high (unless it's common) without informing them. If I had T-Mobile, I'd probably drop them having heard that story. Not because it's not their right to charge people, but I'd expect a little better customer service for what I'm paying them. I'd cancel my credit card if they let it get up to an exhorbitant amount without confirming with me (because it could have been stolen, just as her phone could have been).

And, honestly, I didn't even know there were pay-per-text plans out there anymore.
 

rivrrat

Goddess of Bacon
DP Veteran
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,988
Reaction score
6,593
Location
Charlottesville, VA
Gender
Female
Political Leaning
Undisclosed
Right. And from a business perspective, what do you think is a better business strategy?
The better business strategy is to charge people what they're willing to pay.

A) Educating your customers about the economics of text messaging, and explaining to a frantic customer who volunteered in Haiti (and now, to the media as well) why the whole mess is all her fault.
B) Just reversing the damn charge, since it didn't cost the company anything in the first place.

None of this has anything to do with the "good business" or "ripoff" stuff I was referring to since it's completely out of context. I said that responding to a statement from you about the GENERAL use and cost of texting for all telecom companies. NOT in relation to any specific incident.
 

rivrrat

Goddess of Bacon
DP Veteran
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,988
Reaction score
6,593
Location
Charlottesville, VA
Gender
Female
Political Leaning
Undisclosed
It also doesn't change the fact that it's ****ty customer service to even allow a customer's bill to get that high (unless it's common) without informing them. If I had T-Mobile, I'd probably drop them having heard that story. Not because it's not their right to charge people, but I'd expect a little better customer service for what I'm paying them. I'd cancel my credit card if they let it get up to an exhorbitant amount without confirming with me (because it could have been stolen, just as her phone could have been).

And, honestly, I didn't even know there were pay-per-text plans out there anymore.

Well, from a business perspective it makes sense just to cut the service off once a bill reaches a certain point.
 

Aunt Spiker

Cheese
DP Veteran
Joined
Oct 20, 2009
Messages
28,431
Reaction score
16,987
Location
Sasnakra
Gender
Female
Political Leaning
Moderate
No, I'm not feeling for her. Sure - companies do lie, mislead and PLOT to get money - of course!

But she thought "Oh - fees are being waved" and texted to her heart's content - out the wazoo. I'd like to know just how many "free" text messages she thought she was sending and receiving. She, in my opinion, was taking advantage of the company's free-offer (she thought she was) - would she *normally* have texted that much? Likely not - she thought she was getting *all this much service for free* - which is the *wrong* mindset.

Just because someone *thinks* something is for free doesn't mean they should ABUSE that freedom. It's like going into a bank and they have a free-candy jar. Someone might take one or two - but some ASSHOLE will take it ALL.

It's ok to be offered something *for free* and take advantage of the nice offer. . . and then RETURN that niceness with *more* niceness by *not taking all the candy out of the candy jar* - or the greedy dude at the buffet piling his plate sky high (if the candy jar doesn't work for you).

I think she deserves the headache - sure, they could have likely informed her *better* or done something more than just send her the mega bill - of course.
BUT - if she wasn't taking advantage of the offer then she wouldn't have been shafted, now would she?

If I was dealing with her (and she's not the only one in this pickle, most likely) then I'd say "let's look at your last 6 months of bills and find the average # of texts in your lifestyle and compare it to this period in question. Anything beyond average during this time in question - we'll charge you for per our agreement, anything at or below - we'll waive the fees for completely."
 
Last edited:

Kandahar

Enemy Combatant
DP Veteran
Joined
Jul 20, 2005
Messages
20,688
Reaction score
7,320
Location
Washington, DC
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Liberal
No, I'm not feeling for her. Sure - companies do lie, mislead and PLOT to get money - of course!

But she thought "Oh - fees are being waved" and texted to her heart's content - out the wazoo. I'd like to know just how many "free" text messages she thought she was sending and receiving. She, in my opinion, was taking advantage of the company's free-offer (she thought she was) - would she *normally* have texted that much? Likely not - she thought she was getting *all this much service for free* - which is the *wrong* mindset.

Just because someone *thinks* something is for free doesn't mean they should ABUSE that freedom. It's like going into a bank and they have a free-candy jar. Someone might take one or two - but some ASSHOLE will take it ALL.

It's ok to be offered something *for free* and take advantage of the nice offer. . . and then RETURN that niceness with *more* niceness by *not taking all the candy out of the candy jar* - or the greedy dude at the buffet piling his plate sky high (if the candy jar doesn't work for you).

There are a couple of problems with that analogy. If some asshole takes all the candy out of the candy jar, there is no candy left for everyone else. On the other hand, the fact that she sent a lot of text messages doesn't mean that there are less text messages available for everyone else. Furthermore, it costs the store money to put those candies in the candy jar. It costs T-Mobile nothing to send a text message.

Aunt Spiker said:
I think she deserves the headache - sure, they could have likely informed her *better* or done something more than just send her the mega bill - of course.
BUT - if she wasn't taking advantage of the offer then she wouldn't have been shafted, now would she?

If she believed that they were free (whether that belief was justified or not), then it would make sense for her to text more. That's "taking advantage of the offer" - but not in a negative way.


Story time: Up until about a year ago, I was on my parents' family cell phone plan with Verizon. We each had a fixed number of minutes; I have no idea how many, because none of us ever came close to exceeding the limit. One month, my firm was replacing our work phones, so I started using my cell phone for work purposes. I was on the phone for at least an hour every day. At the end of the month, I had a huge phone bill (several hundred dollars). Should I have known how many minutes I was entitled to? Yes, of course. But it never even occurred to me that I had a limit, because I had never been close to exceeding it in the past.

When I called Verizon to complain, they were apologetic. They put me on the unlimited-minutes plan going forward, and retroactively applied it to the past month where I had incurred the huge charges. They never once tried to blame me for the situation. After all, it's not like my calls cost them any more money by exceeding my allotted minutes than they would have if I had just been on the unlimited plan from the start.

That was good customer service. T-Mobile should do the same thing here.
 
Last edited:

Deuce

Outer space potato man
DP Veteran
Joined
Feb 6, 2010
Messages
77,026
Reaction score
34,032
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Undisclosed
Text messages cost literally zero dollars to transmit, but somehow the customer is the bad guy here. Jesus Christ is there anything that regressives wont let business get away with?
 

digsbe

Truth will set you free
Moderator
DP Veteran
Joined
May 13, 2009
Messages
20,229
Reaction score
14,235
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Other
The business didn't have to cut the cost of her bill by $30,000. They're businesses and she signed up to the terms of her contract. They specifically said voice plans were waived, yet she chose to text. Yeah I think $5,000 is too expensive, but the company has the right to do that. This lady should have checked with her carrier before sending $35,000 in text messages. She consented to a contract that listed charges for services. Sure I feel sorry for her, but let's not vilify T-mobile.
 

Aunt Spiker

Cheese
DP Veteran
Joined
Oct 20, 2009
Messages
28,431
Reaction score
16,987
Location
Sasnakra
Gender
Female
Political Leaning
Moderate
Text messages cost literally zero dollars to transmit, but somehow the customer is the bad guy here. Jesus Christ is there anything that regressives wont let business get away with?

If someone doesn't approve of the costs of things that are written out in their contract - they shouldn't sign the contract and shouldn't agree to it.

I know for certain I read my cellphone contract - I still have my copy - and know how much internatinoal and all other charges would cost me.

IF I, at any point, was offered a paper-waiver to SIGN - I would read that, too.
I would also ask questions such as "does this cover ONLY mobile to mobile? Cellphone?" . . . cover all your bases so you dont' get screwed.

Not my fault - or the company's fault - that SHE assumed *wrong* and didn't *ask* any questions.
 
Last edited:

tacomancer

Christian Capitalist Social Democrat
Supporting Member
DP Veteran
Joined
Jan 8, 2010
Messages
44,232
Reaction score
24,386
Location
Akron
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Progressive
All of this can be solved by having the phone company send a notification to the user. This would allow the user to make more informed choices. I believe there is already a system in place with most US mobile phone companies to do this.
 
Last edited:

Aunt Spiker

Cheese
DP Veteran
Joined
Oct 20, 2009
Messages
28,431
Reaction score
16,987
Location
Sasnakra
Gender
Female
Political Leaning
Moderate
Yes, now that does seem reasonable. . . it still puts the decision in the hands of the user.

Even my water company calls me to tell me when my bill exceeds the top average.
 

tacomancer

Christian Capitalist Social Democrat
Supporting Member
DP Veteran
Joined
Jan 8, 2010
Messages
44,232
Reaction score
24,386
Location
Akron
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Progressive
Yes, now that does seem reasonable. . . it still puts the decision in the hands of the user.

Even my water company calls me to tell me when my bill exceeds the top average.

I know you can already do it with Iphones and some android ones. Also I know AT&T has a number you can send a text to and it sends you back this information. The next step would be to have it just send you one once a week or so.

The ideal would be to have an option to put it on your phone's wallpaper, but I don't think all phones are capable of that yet. You should be able to do this using a very small amount of bandwidth, which shouldn't burden the network. (update once a day or week or so)
 
Last edited:

MaggieD

Supporting Member
Monthly Subscriber
DP Veteran
Joined
Jul 9, 2010
Messages
43,244
Reaction score
44,661
Location
Chicago Area
Gender
Female
Political Leaning
Moderate
Shocking phone-bill horror stories motivate regulators | The Upshot Yahoo! News - Yahoo! News


This isn't the first- or last - story like this we've had.

You know - you should KNOW WHAT YOUR CHARGES are before you USE your phone. It's not *their fault* - they didn't fraudulently present their selves to YOU.
Constant customers use their ignorance to try to wheedle out of things that *they decide to do* and then paint their cellphone company (or bank, water, electric) as if they're the *bad guy.*

Cellphone companies need more regulation re their fees. They have "profit centers" within their business models that depend upon their customers not understanding or not knowing about their billing policies.

My own experience includes an $850 cellphone bill during a busy month in real estate. My plan called for 3,000 minutes for $60. That's 2-cents-a-minute. Overage useage? 35-cents-per-minute. Holy crap. No warniing that one is over their minutes. Just a large bill.

A text message alert should be required. And should have been required as soon as this woman's over-charges exceeded 200% of her average monthly bill.
 

molten_dragon

Anti-Hypocrite
DP Veteran
Joined
Oct 24, 2009
Messages
10,301
Reaction score
4,920
Location
Southeast Michigan
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Slightly Liberal
All of this can be solved by having the phone company send a notification to the user. This would allow the user to make more informed choices. I believe there is already a system in place with most US mobile phone companies to do this.

This is the perfect solution. Just have a little pop-up box show up before you send the text/make the call/whatever that says. It would warn the user that they were over their monthly texts or minutes or were roaming, or using international service or whatever was about to cost them a ton of money. It would tell them exactly how much they were going to pay per text or per minute and ask them to confirm that they were willing to accept those charges. At that point, users would have absolutely nothing to complain about if they incurred a high bill.
 

tacomancer

Christian Capitalist Social Democrat
Supporting Member
DP Veteran
Joined
Jan 8, 2010
Messages
44,232
Reaction score
24,386
Location
Akron
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Progressive
Cellphone companies need more regulation re their fees. They have "profit centers" within their business models that depend upon their customers not understanding or not knowing about their billing policies.

My own experience includes an $850 cellphone bill during a busy month in real estate. My plan called for 3,000 minutes for $60. That's 2-cents-a-minute. Overage useage? 35-cents-per-minute. Holy crap. No warniing that one is over their minutes. Just a large bill.

A text message alert should be required. And should have been required as soon as this woman's over-charges exceeded 200% of her average monthly bill.

Or a message stating, "you are about to go over your minutes, do you want to upgrade to the next tier of available minutes?"
 
Top Bottom