Rogers has slammed a Canadian father with a $1,400 bill after his teenage son unknowingly racked up severe overcharges via a "free" texting app.
Alex Dunsmore, a BC resident, gave his son a cellphone with a plan that includes unlimited texting in Canada. But when his son's girlfriend downloaded a "free" texting app on her iPod Touch from a US company called HeyWire, things went haywire—a long distance text fee was charged every time they texted because each message was routed through America before reaching the other party, despite them living only four blocks away.
As a result, the 1,000-plus text messages the teenage lovebirds exchanged resulted in a $400 bill in one month. After Alex refused to pay, Rogers then forced termination of both cellphone contracts—and charged $800 in cancellation fees to do so.
Alex argues that wireless companies should alert users when spending suddenly spirals out of control. “Why was I not notified, as the legally responsible person in this contract, that there was suddenly this atypical spending?” Alex pondered in an interview with the CBC. “I think it’s a deliberate process on Rogers's part to try to get more money out of their clients,” he said.
A spokesperson for Rogers was less than sympathetic: "I recognize that the customer may find this frustrating," Leigh-Ann Popek wrote. "But the account holder is ultimately responsible for the account. We do not monitor how many texts or calls customers make."
In a CBC poll asking whether the Canadian should have to pay his $1,400 Rogers bill, 59% believe Rogers should "forgive the whole charge" and another 17% believe Rogers should "forgive most of it." 9% believe that at least the cancellation fees should be waived. Only 13% believe he should pay the full bill.
Photo: The Globe and Mail/Reuters