Mother Somehow Runs Up $1500 Verizon Bill

Despite not knowing how to use her phone for anything other than making calls, Michelle’s mother somehow racked up a $1500 bill for 2,888 MB worth of “music or video streaming.” It certainly wasn’t the latest Justin Bieber video on loop. Michelle is trying to negotiate with Verizon but all they’ve done so far is offer a 50% discount. That’s still about $600 more than Michelle wants to pay.

Michelle writes:

I’m having problems with Verizon Wireless. I’ve entered into several contracts with them over the years so that my mother and younger sister could each have cell phones. (I have a separate plan with another provider) They couldn’t afford the phones on their own. Their bill has ranged from $100-150 per month consistently for nearly two years.

In August, with only 4 months left on the current contract, the bill shot up to over $1500. I was at first convinced that it was a simple online billing error. I told my mom about it and she agreed it must be an error. She called Verizon customer service. They initially said it may be a problem with the phone, but they would have to investigate it further. Over the next few weeks, they continued to say they were “investigating.”

They now claim that the charges are valid and that they are for data usage (2888 MB), likely “music or video streaming.” The phone where the charges originated is my mother’s; I know for a fact that she doesn’t know how to use the internet on the phone, nor would she stream anything. My sister has her own phone, and an MP3 player for all her music. Moreover, both my mom and my sister tell me they weren’t using the phone for that purpose.

My dad, a longtime Verizon customer, has been calling them the last couple days and trying to negotiate. They have offered a 50% discount… which still puts the bill at over $700. They won’t budge beyond that. I’m a little shell-shocked, which is why I asked my dad to speak with them. I can’t afford to pay a bill this large and don’t know what to do. I’m stunned that they wouldn’t be willing to add unlimited data to the plan and backdate it… Is $700 worth losing me as a customer (and likely my friends and family)?

Do you have suggestions as to who I could turn to, or what I could do? I’ll try the BBB. I’d like to get this resolved as quickly as possible so it doesn’t impact my credit.

Apparently, yes. But even if you leave, Verizon will still want you to pay this bill you believe to be erroneous.

Here is some executive customer service contact info for Verizon Wireless that may help you. Demand an accounting of what exactly the 2888 MB in data is supposed to be from to start getting to the bottom of this.

Comments

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  1. HSVhockey says:

    We need some regulation in place to make these companies actively notify the customer if charges beyond some % their monthly bill average are going to occur. I am tired of seeing these stories.

    • atthec44 says:

      Really? We need more laws to protect people from themselves?

      • swanyway says:

        I know reading is hard, but “themselves” would imply fault here. There is none. It’s protecting people from companies that use predatory billing practices, and when you ask for proof of the downloads (like, what files or sites the mother was on) they refuse to provide it. They easily have the means to warn of data overages; they refuse to do so.

      • GoldVRod says:

        No. We need laws to prevent companies billing a customer any old amount that they damn well feel like.

      • dolemite says:

        Let’s be honest here. That data probably cost the company less than a dollar. For comparison (from another website):

        Cost to transfer 2,560 MP3s via source:
        via my ISP: $1
        via SMS: $61,356,851.20

        • HSVhockey says:

          WOW, that is worse than the numbers I had in my head (which were pretty bad).

        • consumeristjohnny says:

          Why does how much it cost the company matter? Have you taken into account how much it costs to employ the people who man the customer service? the cost of leasing cell towers, the cost of technicians and engineers?
          How much do you think it costs in MATERIALS to build a car? How about the food at a restaurant? OR, how much is purified water from the city water department that both Coke and Pepsi bottle and sell? If you drank a case of the water thinking it should be free, should you say, so sorry it only costs you X?

          • LandruBek says:

            Do you think they leased extra cell towers for that one month? hired extra staff? Ha. The incremental cost of that one outlier month to Verizon was, I bet, just what Dolemite said, or in the neighborhood.

            The extra stuff about materials cost is irrelevant. We are talking about a service, not a good.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Every argument like this ignores the fact that these laws also protect people from unscrupulous or inept companies.

      • Kate says:

        No, not if companies actually wanted to please their customers, but that apparently is a pipe dream, so yes – we need laws to protect people from companies who abuse their customers.

      • atthec44 says:

        I can tell I’m in the minority here. But why?

        If the shoe were on the other foot and it was a billing error, we would certainly expect VZW to credit the overage back to the customers’ account. So why am I considered unreasonable in expecting the customer to pay for the data they used at the rate/mb they previously agreed on?

        • HSVhockey says:

          Partly because the very small percentage in me that is a socialist thinks that a multi-billion dollar company fixing a million dollars worth of billing mistakes a year is being hurt a lot less than Joe/Jane consumer getting hurt for $1000, especially when most of the $1000 is profiteering on the company’s part.

          But at the same time, I have been in this situation and I have sucked it up and paid Verizon the $2000 I owed them on one bill. And I bitched at them the whole time for lack of notification that the charges were going crazy. I just want the safe guards in place. If people trip them and continue to do stupid stuff then of course they should pay.

          • HSVhockey says:

            Actually I should clarify, my charges were a little different, I knew they were entirely possible and could not prove that they did not happen (international roaming issues). That is why I paid. This situation above could be entire fraudulent/erroneous.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          Your statement does not reflect your true belief.

          You’re now stating you think the bill should be paid if the charges are valid. But “law to protect people from themselves” ignored the fact that laws also protect people from other people (and corporations).

          While we all need a level of personal responsibility, so must we demand the same from corporations.

        • RayanneGraff says:

          You’ve obviously never been hit with a bogus charge before, or else you wouldn’t automatically side with the company.

          Sprint did this to me back in 07, I had 3 lines & had just started working at Radio shack. I signed up for a dealer plan, which would have brought my bill down to $20 per line. I instead got a bill for over $600 that month because they had put me on 3 separate $200 plans. I pointed out their mistake, proved my case with written documentation of the promised $20 dealer plans, yet they insisted that the charges were valid & cut me off when I refused to pay.

          F*ck companies that do this kind of abusive shit. It happens all the time. Yes, sometimes the customer is at fault, but the company is at fault an unforgivably high percentage of the time.

      • RayanneGraff says:

        No, we need laws to protect customers from companies who make up obviously erroneous charges like this & refuse to investigate or correct them, and from companies who set up their phones so that accidentally hitting the browser button causes customers without data plans to be charged for data that they never intended to use, and from companies who allow a customer who has never before gone over to rack up a bill in the thousands without alerting them in any way.

        • Max Headroom says:

          Oh. I see. They complain here, so automatically it is assumed that there is NO EFFING WAY the charges are accurate?

          I see. Ok.

          • JHDarkLeg says:

            Yeah, the real purpose of The Consumerist is to tell the Op how much of liar they are.

            • SteveZim1017 says:

              no, but I see alot of posts (like this one) where the OP doesn’t do the research into what caused the problem and just assumes that its the company out to screw them.

              How do you go this far into the billing issue with Verizon, have them claim you downloaded almost 3 Gigs of data and not get a detailed accounting of when it occured and what the data was?

              before you blame the company dont you want to make sure mom didn’t accidentally leave the verizon video service running for 2 days straight?

          • Mom says:

            Verizon dumb phones are set up so that accidentally pushing the wrong button will result in data charges. If you’re like most dumb phone users, you don’t have a data plan, so data charges add up quickly. The charges may be accurate, but really, c’mon….Who’s going to run up $1500 in data charges, except by accident or company error, when they could just get a data plan?

        • Jawaka says:

          I subscribe to House’s philosophy. Everyone lies.

      • IgnoramusEtIgnorabimus says:

        Funny how she has no internet on her plan and yet has 2,888MB of internet usage… its a lot like driving down a tollway and ending up paying for day passes to disneyland because it is next to the highway

        i use the mail policy on this, if it arrived in the mail one day without ordering it, its free, gives verizon an incentive to keep the crapware off the phone

      • crispyduck13 says:

        Normally I’d agree with you, but it is way WAY too goddam easy to accidentally get on the internet on a cell phone, even if you’re not supposed to even have access. With my last 3 phones I’ve done this, discovered 2 of them had a one touch button that would open the browser. I’m not old or dumb, and i still managed to do this, even though on one of the phones my internet access was supposed to have been turned off (at my request after the first time it happened).

        So it’s fine to say people need to be more responsible, but really it’s not a level playing field when companies actively try to trick you like that.

      • Kaniac says:

        Yep, we do.

    • thisusedtobemoreinterestingandhelpful says:

      yeah crazy how those laws in socialist countries work….if my bill goes over 200 kronor (roughly 30 dollars) my phone gets turned off from outgoing calls/sms/data (incoming calls/sms are of course still free) until I contact my carrier to raise the limit for that month or report it as fraud and as a bonus if I don’t like my carrier I can easily change to another one since they all use the same technology…ahh…mobile phones what I don’t miss about the USA.

    • maruawe says:

      To make that happen you will have to pay more to the legislators than Verizon does.. Their lobbyist are real busy with the AT&T &T-mobile merger trying to find ways to end that one to favor
      their priorities ………….

  2. apple420 says:

    Seems like a ripoff. If she had the data plan the bill might be around $40. But she didn’t have a data plan so it is $1500? It’s not like the was roaming internationally, Verizon can cut her a break.

    • longfeltwant says:

      I manage the cell phone bill for my family (five lines), and this is why on the day I signed up, I called AT&T and got a block for ANYTHING THAT COST MONEY: internet data, sex phone lines, international calling, roaming, ringtones, apps — ANYTHING that could increase the bill. My name was on the envelope, so my ass was on the line when the bill came.

      Also, I know my family is full of idiots and bums. But even if it were only idiots (like the mother in this story), I would have still done it.

      If you haven’t done that already, DO IT! Call them up and have them block EVERYTHING but what you know you use (for me, that is voice and text).

      • AustinTXProgrammer says:

        I do the same for the inlaws I have on my phone plans. On the other hand the OP could port the numbers, dump Verizon and never look back. Play hardball with the collectors (dot every T, cross every I, and keep certified mail receipts. When the first notice arrives [ut them on notice it is a disputed debt ASAP and any attempt to collect, including negative tradelines would be a violation of the FDCPA and responded to accordingly) and keep the report clean.

        They would then have no choice to sue for the bill. Think they would? I seriously doubt it but I don’t know.

        I am not a lawyer, and following these steps may get you sued so consult with one if needed.

      • Not Given says:

        Yeah, I TRIED to block all incoming texts, I had never texted before and i was getting midnight, wrong number texts from idiot kids. I asked them to block all the texts to my number, I kept getting them so I figured it didn’t work. One time my son texted me and I wanted to reply, it didn’t work. I called and they said there was a block on it. The block was on outgoing, only, not incoming, like I wanted.

        My mother is on my sister’s family plan. She didn’t even want voice mail on her phone. I shudder to think she might press the wrong button and get data on the thing. Does At&T make it too easy to get on the internet?

        My aunt, at a family reunion, said she had had an envelope icon on her phone for a long time but checking her voice mail didn’t make it go away. We looked at it and found 2 incoming texts on it from 6 months before.

        • human_shield says:

          Yes! There is a big button in the middle of the most used control pad that connects to the Internet. It should be a select or enter button but is there purposely to sock customers with fees. If you press it even for a second it charges you a base $2 and a few kb at least. I call it the scam button.

  3. MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

    At the very least, it seems like Verizon could reduce the bill to $50 – the amount for a 5GB data plan.

    • LandruBek says:

      Maybe in their eyes, to them that means, “They could throw away $1450.”

      I base that on the inflammatory thesis that economics classes make you a bad person, which I don’t really believe but is fun to troll with.

      • Herah says:

        Isn’t this like saying, “My house burnt down, and I lost everything. If I would have had insurance, I’d be out a 500.00 deductible instead of 100,000 bucks. Why can’t they just make my insurance retroactive???”

        Because. That’s not the way business works. If they would just give you everything after the fact, no one would ever subscribe prior to something happening. It sucks, but it’s her responsibility.

        • kujospam says:

          There are these things called restaurants. You see you order food there, and you pay later. They can do this crazy thing where you just order dinner and receive a bill, and then , OMG, you can then order dessert and get your bill changed to reflect that. Crazy Idea. No this is not like the insurance. Data usage is a commodity, a house is not. See they list the price usage for what 5gb of data usage is. And considering a phone company works just like the restaurant idea, unless if you are on a prepaid plan (which they are not), then I see nothing wrong with that idea. Besides of course Verizon wanting to screw over some people.

          • LandruBek says:

            And then one night you’re eating dinner like usual, and the bill shows up and it’s ten times the amount you usually pay, which is a total surprise, and the waiter says it’s because you ordered that barrel of diamond-encrusted caviar that you’ve already forgotten about, so pay up. Oh, you’re unhappy? We’ll knock the bill down by half.

            The analogy elves are having a tough time crafting a good fit for this one.

        • kc2idf says:

          Yes, but they aren’t selling insurance.

  4. Agozyen says:

    There is no way this should ever be allowed to happen. Period. There is no reason they cannot charge their regular data rates when stuff like this happens. I can see maybe charging twice what the normal plan is to get the customer to maybe sign up for it, but this is ridiculous.

  5. Darrone says:

    Sorry to break this to you, but you’re mom loves watching streaming mobile porn. It’s hard to here, but you can’t go blaming Verizon.

  6. Deeya says:

    They don’t need, or want your business, so they will offer to settle for 50%, when you can’t pay they’ll send it to collections and not think twice about it.

    Companies this size could lose you, and every person you have ever known in your entire life as a customer, and it wouldn’t change their bottom line by even a tenth of a percent, maybe even a hundredth or thousandths of a percent.

  7. Costner says:

    I used to work for a company that installed video entertainment systems in hotels. A solid 25% of the customers who ordered movies always claimed they didn’t or that it was an “accident”.

    So who is really at fault if the customer makes a mistake? Maybe his mother didn’t know how to use her phone but inadvertantly started streaming something. Is that the fault of Verizon? Should they be responsible to train customers on how to use their equipment? Does the customer not bear any responsibility here?

    Think of it this way. A father buys a car for his son but keeps it registered in his name for insurance purposes. A month later, the father starts receiving traffic tickets in the mail from red light cameras and speed cameras. Within a month he has received $1500 worth of violations. When he confronts the son, he finds out the son doesn’t even have a drivers license and he had no idea that he couldn’t turn right on red at that particular intersection nor did he realize the speed limit on the road leading to school was only 45 instead of 55.

    So is it the fault of the city/county/state that the son didn’t know how to use the car properly? Is ignorance of how the equipment works a valid defense?

    Sure Verizon could back-date a data plan, but the whole idea of a plan is as the name implies… to PLAN for your needs. Failure to plan properly isn’t really the fault of Verizon, and since the phone is not a pay-as-you-go phone, should Verizon merely adjust their plans on the fly for anyone who fails to properly plan ahead?

    I’d say the OP needs to find out exactly what is going on with Mom’s phone to prevent this from happening. Some training and education are in order, and he may wish to consider putting a block of some sort on data use from that phone. He can try to continue to work with Verizon, but I don’t feel this is an issue that warrants going to the BBB unless the charges aren’t accurate. If the mom did actually use the data (even if she didn’t intend to) then Verizon did nothing wrong here. The fact they are willing to slash the bill in half is rather generous.

    • apupnamedshamus says:

      +1

      To continue your car analogy, how about this one:

      Father buys kid a car and registers it under his name and puts it on his insurance. But he only has the state minimum for liability, figuring that he and his wife are good drivers, and he “trusts” his son to be one too. His son gets into a major accident and causes severe damage (medical, property, etc.). Father gets sued for $300,000 by the victim. Now he could lose his house, cars, savings, etc.

      What do you think would happen if the father called his insurance company and asked them to raise the liability limits to $300k and back date it to before the accident? I mean, it was a simple mistake, right? He didn’t know he needed higher rates, or that his son might cause that much damage. The insurance company should just be nice and do it for him to save him the cost. It’s not his fault, the insurance company never warned him that his son might cause that much damage, or that his son might not be a safe driver.

      • Costner says:

        Exactly. And back to using phones as an example, what about people who don’t pay the extra $5 a month for insurance coverage etc and the phone stops working or the screen gets cracked. Should they be able to call up Verizon and back date the insurance coverage?

        I’ll conceded data pricing on phones is insane. I’ll even concede that in the interests of customer service, Verizon should backdate his plan since we all know their actual costs to provide the data are minimal, but the point is the actual data usage is the fault of the user… not Verizon – and as such they are under no obligation to provide any refunds or credits.

        To be honest what bothered me most was him saying he will try the BBB. For what? What did Verizon do wrong here? Please explain? How about he reports his mother to the Geek Squad for being technologically retarded… that oddly enough seems a little less stupid than contacting the BBB.

        • apupnamedshamus says:

          My post, right below yours, makes that exact point (BBB). That was the first thing that got my attention and pissed me off. This undying sense of entitlement in the US is sickening. No one is willing to accept responsibility for their actions, and they always want someone else to do it for them. And if that doesn’t work, they want the government to step in and “fix” it.

          • Greggen says:

            I dont think that this post is about some entitlement. It is about highly unusual charges an asshat company is demanding the customer pay without proof.

            Well, I take that back, I guess Verizon feels entitled to charge whatever it wants without detailing what the charges are for.

            But thanks for playing ‘trying to turn a legitimate complaint into some request for free stuff.’

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          You concede that the current status quo is ridiculous, but you state clearly that you side with the bunsiness because they are not violating any law and did nothing beyond what they were required to.

          You are not incorrect in your logical assessment.

          However, the complaints here are a communal desire to change the status quo. So confuse “should” with “are obligated to.” Almost unanimously we agree they “should” be doing more customer-friendly actions like backdating her plan, warning users when they rack up data, etc. But that doesn’t mean we don’t understand they are not obligated to.

        • balderdashed says:

          I think I’d trust Michelle’s mom to be my tech guru, but I’d turn any tech problem (or any one) over to the Geek Squad. The odds of somebody’s technologically challenged, elderly mother being able to “accidentally” fix a computer, or figure out a cell phone problem, etc., are probably slightly better than the odds of a Best Buy “Geek” helping you with anything, accidentally or on purpose.

      • Draskuul says:

        Actually, if I was going to use a car analogy for this, I’d say it’s akin to someone being forced to pay a $20k insurance deductible on a plan for wrecking their Lamborghini when they really wrecked their Camry with a $500 deductible.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      I will agree that if the charges are truly valid they need to pay the amount and continue on.

      But I find it very unlikely that a person who doesn’t know how to use the internet on their phone racked up $1500 worth of data. Verizon should be required to provide the evidence that those charges are indeed valid.

      If she downloaded $1500 worth of content, where is it?

      • Costner says:

        Agreed – they should be required to provide evidence or at least some type of proof. Simply taking their word for it isn’t good enough.

        Of course if it was due to streaming there really isn’t anything left on the phone to prove it. This is where things get ugly. I predict in the future people who sign up for cell phone contracts will be required to opt-in to data services rather than being forced to opt-out. These types of scenarios are all too common.

        • kujospam says:

          To prove it they need to take your phone. Or just tell the customer to go to Data phone usage w/e it is stored on their phone. Then that proves that they used it. Now that doesn’t prove if the customer started it or the phone did.

      • Wriz says:

        I agree that Verizon should have to prove that the user did indeed use that much data. It’s a reasonable request and should be easy to do.

        However, I personally don’t find it unlikely that someone who “doesn’t know how to use the internet” couldn’t use that much data. Most Verizon phones come pre-installed with VCAST software. My last two have had them and one wasn’t a smartphone by any stretch of the imagination.

        A lack of knowledge/ignorance could have actually caused this problem. She may have thought she was only using stuff that was already on the phone. She could have easily been streaming music or videos and ended up with none of the content you refer to. (I don’t use the VCAST services, so I’m not entirely sure how they work or if they have a warning about costs associated with using them. Anyone who has used them, feel free to fill me in.)

        Or there is another option. How many times have people made mistakes, been confronted with a bill for their stupidity, and then attempted to lie their way out of it… I see that as a strong possibility in this scenario.

      • kimmie says:

        AT&T actually sells phones with buttons on the outside that will launch the web browser. My dad had one of these for a short time. Even if you dont have a data plan, bumping the button will launch the web browser while the phone is locked and charge you for the data usage (it immediately loads the AT&T mobile page). It’s ridiculous and we took it back to the AT&T store right away. I expect this is done by design.

        • jefeloco says:

          My M.I.L.’s phone was set up that way, with the button linked directly to the browser. Bobbi is old and has bad fingers that aren’t really all that sensitive so she tends to grip phones and remotes really hard and adjusts her grip constantly.

          My B.I.L pays for her phone on his Verizon plan and had a nasty shock when his first bill – after getting her that phone – was over $600. She didn’t have data on her line and every time she pressed that stupid button the phone was dinged for $1.99 access to the service. The B.I.L. ended up having to pay the whole damn thing AND put a $10 dumb phone data plan on her line just to try to prevent that sort of thing in the future.

    • Greggen says:

      While customer mistakes are not the fault of Verizon, stating that the mother ‘musta downloaded music of videos or something’ as justification for a 1.5k bill is Verizon’s fauly. To bill for a service, the company must provide proof that the service was used.

      But good one with the car-joke-thing. It had nothing to do with the OP’s situation, but was a a post.

    • sixsevenco says:

      What if the phone hardware or software is responsible for the data usage? Should the OP plan for that? Here’s one quick example…

      http://www.wpcentral.com/confirmed-yahoo-email-responsible-data-bug-windows-phone

    • P=mv says:

      I would agree if there was some way to disable data usage on a phone with Verizon. But there isn’t. I am not a computer programmer but, I do know perfectly well how to use a phone. On my old, cheap flip phone from Verizon the “internet” button was right next to the “send” button. And the buttons are really tiny. It got hit all the time, with the accompanying data charges, over $1 per hit despite the fact that I backed out as soon as the browser popped up.

      When companies provide a way to disable this feature if a customer doesn’t want it, I’ll agree with your statement.

      • cf27 says:

        p=mv They put the button there ON PURPOSE, knowing that a mis-press will give them a little bit of cash.

    • LandruBek says:

      An inappropriate car analogy — what is this, slashdot? What if the son doesn’t know how use the car keys, and he only uses the car to talk on its CB radio? Yet this still somehow costs a steady $100 to $150 per month in motor vehicle citations. And one month for no apparent reason the monthly citation bill jumps to $1500. Then the magistrate offers to cut it by 50%. What do we usually do in situations like this??


      My head is a pumpkin, your analogy is invalid.

    • longdvsn says:

      FYI…when you get a red-light ticket, speed-camera ticket, etc…

      THEY INCLUDE A PHOTO OF THE VEHICLE/PLATE AS EVIDENCE!!!
      …or at least it is always available if you dispute the ticket.

      Verizon refuses to provide evidence that the phone used the data they claim. They say they’re ‘investigating’…but nothing is happening.

      • bd_ says:

        What kind of evidence do you expect to get? If this is mobile web stuff, all that’s logged would be byte counts – it’s not like there’s some photographic evidence that you used the internet.

    • libwitch says:

      I really do find it sort of…odd that anyone would manage to accidently download this much data. I suppose (maybe. as a longshot) its possible. She um, turned something on and kept it on until the battery ran down and ignore all messages? Or something.

      Just because it is 1.her mom and 2. her mom is in some undefined “older” category does not mean she can not figure out how to use those new-fangled parts of a cell phone that do more then make calls, or at least start poking at them to see what they do. And either way its really not Verizons fault.

    • SOCIALISM MARXISM WELCOME TO OBAMA'S AMERICA *fart* says:

      A pro-corporate, anti-consumer message from Costner, what a surprise!

      Did said adult movies cost over $1,000?

  8. apupnamedshamus says:

    Why would you file a complaint with the BBB? You signed a contract, with overage amounts being stipulated. Whether it was an accident or not, YOU are LIABLE for the bill. Verizon doesn’t have to do anything to help you.

    Now, I agree that that amount is ridiculous. And I agree that Verizon should backdate an unlimited plan to compensate. And I agree that they should have notified you before it got so high. But, all of these things, while being nice, are not mandatory.

    Should you continue to argue your case and try to fight it up the ladder? Absolutely! Will you probably win? I believe so. But filing BBB complaints or threatening law suits (I know you didn’t here, just saying) and other crap like that is why legit complaints get ignored and take forever.

    And in the end, if Verizon doesn’t make it right, you can cancel and move to another carrier. Who would do the exact same thing.

    • Kate says:

      It’s an assumption that it was an accident with no proof from the company. Why would you trust all businesses that all their bills were always accurate no matter what the circumstances?

      • apupnamedshamus says:

        The OP has given no proof that it was a billing mistake. If she could “PROVE” it was, and Verizon wouldn’t budge, that would be fine to file a BBB complaint on. But if Verizon shows active data usage logs tied to the phone, saying “my mom doesn’t use the Internet” doesn’t mean anything. As others have said, maybe someone else used their phones? Maybe she ran an app accidentally that sucked a ton of bandwidth?

        Even in the post, the OP doesn’t indicate she believes it was a billing problem, and simply doesn’t know how her mom/sister’s phone could have done it. Ignorance is no justification.

        Also, as I mentioned in another post reply, it’s very suspicious how the monthly bill fluctuates between $100 and $150 a month normally. That’s a HUGE swing. Unless they are making International calls, which is incredibly stupid on a cell phone, that leaves texting and data. So obviously they are doing other activities on the phone already. If it is texting, then either they don’t have a texting plan (stupid) or they text a LOT over whatever plan they have (stupid).

        If the OP was concerned about bills, she should have gotten them a prepaid phone.

        • AustinTXProgrammer says:

          Verizon is the accuser, they need to provide the proof before the customer hands over the money.

        • Peggee is deeply offended by impetulant, pernicious little snots disrespecting her and violating her personal space at Best Buy. says:

          The OP has given no proof that it was a billing mistake. If she could “PROVE” it was…

          Last month, you stole the stereo from my car. Repairs cost me $4000. Either “PROVE” you didn’t, or pay me the 4K. No, I don’t have an itemized bill for you, or even a picture of the damage. I won’t even tell you what day it was on because you might actually have an alibi for that day. But nice try!

    • conquestofbread says:

      I mean, you know that the BBB is toothless, right?

      Who cares if someone goes to the BBB. All the company has to do is respond to the complaint, and the reliability of their ratings is questionable to begin with (search consumerist for bbb and you can read more).

      Besides, Verizon thinks nothing of sending someone to collections, which hurts the individual’s reputation in a much more significant way than a BBB complaint.

      Just saying…

      • apupnamedshamus says:

        I’m aware of that. But that wasn’t my point. My point was the audacity of bringing in the BBB for an issue of consumer ignorance and stupidity. People need to take responsibility for their own actions (or lack thereof) and not try to involve outside organizations to clean up their messes.

  9. dolemite says:

    Only in cell phone lala land is 2 GB of data worth $1,500.

    Glad I don’t live in that land.

  10. wickdchameleon says:

    No, It’s to protect people from bill shock.

  11. atthec44 says:

    This story makes me wonder a couple of things…

    If mom and sister cannot afford cell phones on their own, why are they on a $150 plan? Why not a $30/month prepaid plan?

    At $150 per month, how does that plan not include at least 1GB of data usage?

    • apupnamedshamus says:

      Exactly. If the OP was intelligent, she would have gotten them prepaid phones and just credited the amount every month. You can get super good prepaid deals nowadays.

      And the story is not complete. They most likely had some type of data plan, but went over it by 2888MB.

      Also, the OP said the bill fluctuates between $100-$150 month. Why is that? If you have the right plan, your bill shouldn’t fluctuate by $50 on a month by month basis. Maybe a couple bucks for changes in taxes/fees, but nothing else.

      Sounds like the mom and sister do a lot of extra stuff with their phone anyway then just “make calls”. Outside of International calls or making purchases with the phone through the carrier, the only two items that could raise the bill that much are texting and Internet usage.

      So she accepted liability for the service knowing full well that her mom and sister were using it for more then just calls. And she opened herself up for risk. In the end, it bit her.

      • atthec44 says:

        I found that huge fluctuation to be a little suspicious too.

        I have 2 HTC EVO’s on the Everything Data Share plan with Sprint. In the 6 months since my wife and I got these phones, our bill has never fluctuated from one month to another by more than 74 cents.

        Not that I don’t believe the OP but I don’t think we have all of the information.

    • Charmander says:

      Yes to this. I’m on a $15 at time top-up plan with Verizon – my entire cell phone bill is $60 per year.

  12. podunkboy says:

    ..and that’s why we carry pre-paid phones only for emergencies, and no data plan. I’m not anti-technology, I just don’t need the internet in my pocket and a potential grand in erroneous phone bills. Those billing “investigations” are generally conducted by a hirsute gentleman named “Peggy” in a shack located in places unknown.

    • Peggee is deeply offended by impetulant, pernicious little snots disrespecting her and violating her personal space at Best Buy. says:

      I happen to be a lady who grooms herself quite regularly. How dare you.

  13. somedaysomehow says:

    If mom wasn’t going to use data ever on her phone, why not turn data capabilities off to start with to prevent accidents like this?

    • halo969 says:

      Is that always possible? I remember back when I was with T-Mobile I didn’t have a texting plan and got sick of people texting me and getting charged for it but when I asked T-Mobile if I could disable it they said it wasn’t possible. If it is possible to disable certain services than I agree with you but I don’t think that’s always the case because that wouldn’t be in the best interest of the company who can make money off the ignorant.

      • Cat says:

        Of course it’s “possible”. They just refuse to do it. Why would they kill their goose that lays golden eggs?

        My tech challenged parents had their texting disabled many years ago. I don’t know who their carrier is, but I bet if you got a new phone and plan with their carrier today, they would refuse to disable texting.

        • joshua70448 says:

          Until a few months ago, I had messaging and data disabled on all of the phones on my AT&T family plan (which was started in 2008). We added 200-message packs to two of the phones, so I turned messaging back on for those phones (but left it disabled on the third phone). Then later, when I added unlimited messaging, I re-enabled messaging and data for all three phones (so we could send MMS messages). It’s not that hard, you just have to ask your provider to do it. Also, I’ve had AT&T disable third-party billing after one of my phones got crammed, so that’s easy to do as well.

    • kimmie says:

      I will say that turning off data turns off MMS/picture mail, which does kind of suck. But it’s worthwhile when getting repeatedly crammed.

    • megafly says:

      Verizon does not allow data to be turned off for mobile users. PERIOD

  14. Murbobby says:

    I turned off all services on my phone except basic phone. No messaging, no text, no web, no nothing.

    I’d buy a cell phone with a rotary dial if they offered it.

  15. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    The OP doesn’t mention any other siblings. I’d be curious to know if the younger sister has a boyfriend…who may have used Mom’s phone and not told anyone.

    That being said – isn’t there some sort of history on phones that shows when the data was accessed, time and date, maybe on a detailed billing statement? I ask because I have a “dumb” phone that only has calling and texting.

  16. dinoterror says:

    Ahh!! This happened to me once! My phone apparently took it upon itself to connect to the internet twice a minute, every minute, for three days straight.

    But! I got completely different treatment: I got myself talking to management, and since my bill hadn’t posted yet, they couldn’t do anything about it, the gentleman I spoke to not only took my name and number and told me he was going to call me at a certain date and time, he gave me his information in case he didn’t call. As well as his work schedule for the week.

    Basically my argument strategy was this: I have never, ever used data on my phone. I am usually well under the minutes allotted me each month. Why would I suddenly go over by a thousand minutes? I also had them shut off my phone’s access to the web.

  17. absherlock says:

    My six-year old doesn’t know how to order pay-per-view (yeah, I know, he probably does!), but that doesn’t mean he can’t do it accidentally. That’s why I either lock or disable those features I don’t want used.

    If you feel treated unfairly and want to take your business elsewhere, so be it. But you’re responsible for the bill and should count yourself lucky that they offered to cut it by half.

  18. Matt da Brat says:

    End data caps. Switch to Sprint. Problem solved.

  19. balderdashed says:

    I agree that some regulations requiring a cell phone company to notify a customer of (extremely) unusual charges would be a good idea. But, that said, if Verizon can show that the charges were made from Michelle’s mother’s phone, why should she expect Verizon to write off any part of it? Michelle might “know for a fact” that her mother doesn’t know how to use the internet or streaming features of her phone (though that claim seems dubious). But she certainly can’t “know for a fact” that her mother (or someone else using her phone with Mom’s permission) didn’t inadvertently use 2,888 MB worth of data. Consider: if her mother had accidentally left a hose running in the back yard and somehow used an extraordinary amount of water, would Michelle expect the public utility to write it off — and essentially pass the cost of her mother’s mistake on to other customers? I have a large swimming pool in my back yard, and one chilly month I accidentally left the pool heater on for several weeks continuously, though I did no swimming. I had a big fat bill — my bad — it was only fair that I had to pay it. What can Michelle do? If she owes the money, pay up and quit whining for sympathy. I’m no fan of cell phone companies as a rule, but Verizon’s offer of a 50% discount seems generous.

    • MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

      Not a good analogy.

      This is more like if her mother had a water well so she didn’t need city water, but the city ran water service to a special spigot at her house, because of building codes. One month she found out that she’d accidentally hooked her hose up to the city spigot instead of her own well supplied spigot, and filled her pool with 5000 gallons of city water.

      Since she wasn’t on a monthly water plan, instead of paying 2 cents/gallon, the city instead charged her 30 cents per gallon.

      Her 5000 gallons of water didn’t cost the city any more than it would have if she’d had a monthly water plan. The city could easily charge her at the less expensive rate and still make its money.

      Similarly, her streaming of 2,888 MB of data costs Verizon the same amount, regardless of what data plan she was or wasn’t on. By reducing the bill from $1500 to $30 or $40, it’s not like Verizon’s taking a loss on the deal. They’re still getting the same amount of money that they would from a ‘normal’ user.

      • apupnamedshamus says:

        And your analogy has flaws.

        Remember the story a while back about the county in some rural area that didn’t have a fire department? If a homeowner wanted fire protection, they needed to pay a couple hundred bucks a year to the neighboring county that had it. If they didn’t, and had a fire, they were f’d.

        Well, some redneck idiot decided to burn some crap in a oil drum next to his house, and low and behold, he set his house on fire. He called 911, but the fire department said that they couldn’t help him. They wound up coming out, but only to watch and make sure the fire didn’t spread. When it did, to his neighbors property who DID pay for fire protection, they put out the spreading flames, but left the house alone.

        The idiot homeowner begged for them to put it out, saying he would pay them for it, but they refused. He admitted on camera that he figured he would never need them, so didn’t pay the bill. He even offered to pay a thousand or two more, but again, they refused. In the end, his house burned to the ground with everyone watching. Oh, his dogs were inside and burned to death.

        The fire department was very clear in it’s press release that under no circumstances, outside of immediate risk to human life, they do not intervene unless the homeowner prepaid for their services. They said that if they allowed people to only pay when services were needed, no one would ever pay their annual dues, and the fire department wouldn’t have the financial resources to function. Since there are thousands of homeowners who pay a year, and only a handful of fires that need to be put out, the pay-per-use surcharge would be like $10k, and they couldn’t guarantee collecting it.

        Now, is this a perfect analogy to the story? No. But it has a ring of similarity.

        How many people pay for “unlimited Internet” and never use more than a couple hundred meg at most? I would say 75% at least. If everybody took advantage of all the bandwidth they paid for, the capacity of the network would fall to it’s knees (even more than it is in some places). The heavier users are subsidized by the infrequent ones. Just like any “unlimited” plan. If you wind up costing them more than they make, they stop providing you the service. Could the OP have paid for an unlimited plan and saved $1560? Yup. Did she? Nope.

        All I can say is I hope wherever she lives, the fire department is paid in county taxes…

        • SOCIALISM MARXISM WELCOME TO OBAMA'S AMERICA *fart* says:

          Just an FYI a lot of people think the actions of that fire dept. were absolutely abhorrent and that the victim was not an “idiot redneck” so your analogy probably won’t have an much pull as you’d like.

  20. Exceptional Vampire Does Not Sparkle says:

    Damn OP… That’s a lot of granny porn.

  21. MedicallyNeedy says:

    A senior I know has been getting billed $90+ a month for DSL and phone service. He no longer uses his computer and only calls locally. HE CAN NOT CANCEL! The phone prompts are incoherent and he has given up. He was also getting billed an extra $1000 a year in car insurance he didn’t need. I curse the corporate cocks who take advantage of our elderly! OCCUPY!!!

    • balderdashed says:

      Some seniors undoubtedly have difficulty with technology, and as society becomes more technology-dependent, some are going to have a hard time figuring things out. But I fail to see how that means corporations are necessarily “taking advantage” of our elderly. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, et al. are not in the social services business; they are in the telecommunications business. If you feel so passionately about this senior who is getting billed $90+ per month and can’t figure out how to cancel (and is also getting billed an extra $1,000 per year for car insurance) why the heck don’t you help this person out? I would, if I knew such an individual.

    • Darury says:

      Yes, that’s exactly right. They probaby even had seniors come in and test the phone tree menus, so they could ensure that none of the were clever enough to slip through the system. I bet all of them left the testing in tears after diabolical corporate bastards were done with them. /s

  22. Woodside Park Bob says:

    She should dump Verizon and get pre-paid phones, like Virgin Mobile, etc. for the mother and sister. The cost would be less and there would be no way for them to run up an outrageous bill.

  23. kimmie says:

    Ugh AT&T did something similar to us, but not as high a price. They claimed my mom downloaded a bunch of games and music, on a phone that’s not even capable of that. She has the stupidest phone we could possible find, no qwerty keyboard, no nothing. I had no other way to prove she didn’t actually download this stuff and sadly, in the end i ate the bill. We got her a new phone shortly thereafter and turned off the internet settings at the provider so they can’t claim this sort of thing anymore.

    I find it hard to believe that the providers can’t control this, and I think they’re just greedy.

  24. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    Cell phone’s without data plans shouldn’t be setup in a way to blow up a bill like this. Carriers should place reasonable restrictions on the amount of data someone not in a plan can use before it is automatically turned off. Some phones won’t allow you to disable data (I Have been known to change APN settings to break data when it couldn’t be turned off) and make it REALLY easy to accidentally use it (and get charged a $2 minimum).

    Getting a data block on the phone sounds like a good first step, and a way to demonstrate to Verizon this was unintentional. If you can’t come to a conclusion port away and refuse to pay. Play hardball with the collectors and force them to sue (they most likely won’t). It may come around to haunt every few years for a while but it will go away. Talk to a lawyer if needed. I am not one but the collectors can’t really do much if you do your homework.

  25. Ilovegnomes says:

    How did they investigate? Did they actually look at the phone? There must be some way to verify if/how the data was used on the phone. And if not, is it possible someone spoofed her phone/account somehow?

    If I were her, I would call customer service again and ask if there is some way that they can physically verify the usage? If she doesn’t and there is a problem with her phone, this problem is going to repeat itself each month.

  26. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    You know, the issue here is the fact that people – mostly seniors – find technology incomprehensible and won’t even try to understand it. You can find endless stories on the internet. I know a guy whose mother got billed $300 for PPV movies at a hotel because she watched the same movie over and over but only 10 minutes at a time. My own parents can’t understand the concept of how email works (goes to a server, waits there until their computer downloads it, gets erased from server) even though they use it every day. I try to explain it but they just don’t listen because they think it’s too complicated to understand. At least once a month they call me asking how to retrieve an email off the server because they deleted it and it must still be out there somewhere.

    If old people have smartphones or any other kind of technology, they must either learn and know what they’re doing or they must be on accounts that have no data plan, roaming, texting, or any other per-use item of any kind. Any other setup is asking for this kind of billing situation to appear.

    • Jane_Gage says:

      AARP advertises a giant cell phone that looks like a toilet seat for seniors and the mentally challenged–think it’s called a jitterbug. All the numbers are huge, there is a CALL and HANG UP button and 0 connects you to a human. It looked pretty cheap too.

  27. consumeristjohnny says:

    I have two phones on a Everything plan that is cheaper than what the OP is paying per phone. Oh by the way, Sprint has TRUE unlimited data. If mom wouldnt know how, or want to use data, why would you get her a phone that has streaming capabilities.
    I am saying there is way more to this story that the OP has neglected to fill in to make the story more favorable in their world. Also, why is mom non on dads plan instead of yours?

  28. samonela says:

    OP should offer to pay Verizon’s actual costs for the data. Considering that a 5GB plan is $50, I am wondering what their actual cost of the data usage would be?

  29. mgchan says:

    I had a similar problem in about 2005, when I didn’t have a smartphone. Somehow, my data connection got activated (not saying that wasn’t my fault) and was left on for a day or so. I didn’t actually turn it off but probably it got shut off when I went to class and lost service.

    Well, my bill that month was something like $200 (it was usually closer to $40). I called and they offered the same thing, 50% off. I was more upset that they make it possible to have a data connection open without it actually doing anything than the bill itself. As such, I cancelled my cell phone and home internet service and went with AT&T. Not that they are really any better.

    However, people need to get over themselves. Everyone has a sense of entitlement and that they are the most important person in the world. Stop saying “is $xxx really worth more than my business” when you are on the most basic service plan and try to pay the least amount possible for everything.

    And I don’t have any issue with Verizon not offering to take payment for the data plan. The whole point of a fixed rate plan is that you pay in advance, possibly for service that you won’t use most of the time, for the flexibility of using the service whenever you want at a lower price. Verizon shouldn’t be obligated to retroactively enroll people in whatever plan suits them best after the fact.

  30. DanKelley98 says:

    BBB doesn’t do crap. Take them to small claims court and make them prove it. Also file a complaint with the FCC: http://www.fcc.gov/complaints

    Just because Verizon says it is doesn’t mean it is. Screw ‘em.

  31. blueneon says:

    First – the BBB really isn’t going to care, nor would Verizon for having been reported. Second – I love this statement, “Moreover, both my mom and my sister tell me they weren’t using the phone for that purpose.” Look, I know everyone (usually) wants to believe that their mom and sister walk on water, but having worked at AT&T I cannot count how many times I heard that same thing. ‘But but (insert family relation or name here) TOLD ME they didn’t do that!!’ Yeah, ok. As others have said, it comes down to this .. you put your name and credit on the line for these phones so you’re responsible. As far as your dad having to call for you? It’s not like you’re 12 years old. And not sure what the point of him being a long time verizon customer is unless you’re hoping they’ll give you a bigger discount because of that. No, that can’t be it.

  32. Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

    It’s for reasons like this that I stick to a prepaid plan with my cheapass phone. If I accidentally hit “browser” on it, I will simply get a text saying “You attempted to use data on your phone. You currently don’t have a data plan attached. You may add data for $10/month” (before you say “DO IT DAMMIT!” keep in mind this is a cheapass phone, on an Edge network–really, you jest me doing that!) I like that safeguard, though.

  33. brinks says:

    I’m torn. On one hand, I know that the most dangerous people are the ones that don’t understand the technology they’re using. Who knows what Mom was doing that she didn’t even realize.

    On the other hand, HOLY HELL. How do you rack up those kinds of charges, by accident or not? Verizon’s got to have more info to back up that those charges actually occurred. Dates, times, what the files were… I’d pay if I owed it, but I’d insist I actually knew what I was paying for.

  34. brinks says:

    I’m torn. On one hand, I know that the most dangerous people are the ones that don’t understand the technology they’re using. Who knows what Mom was doing that she didn’t even realize.

    On the other hand, HOLY HELL. How do you rack up those kinds of charges, by accident or not? Verizon’s got to have more info to back up that those charges actually occurred. Dates, times, what the files were… I’d pay if I owed it, but I’d insist I actually knew what I was paying for.

  35. brinks says:

    I’m torn. On one hand, I know that the most dangerous people are the ones that don’t understand the technology they’re using. Who knows what Mom was doing that she didn’t even realize.

    On the other hand, HOLY HELL. How do you rack up those kinds of charges, by accident or not? Verizon’s got to have more info to back up that those charges actually occurred. Dates, times, what the files were… I’d pay if I owed it, but I’d insist I actually knew what I was paying for.

  36. brinks says:

    I’m torn. On one hand, I know that the most dangerous people are the ones that don’t understand the technology they’re using. Who knows what Mom was doing that she didn’t even realize.

    On the other hand, HOLY HELL. How do you rack up those kinds of charges, by accident or not? Verizon’s got to have more info to back up that those charges actually occurred. Dates, times, what the files were… I’d pay if I owed it, but I’d insist I actually knew what I was paying for.

  37. mrscoach says:

    I didn’t go through this, but with two different carriers, several years apart, I got this mysterious monthly charge on my daughter’s line. I called the carrier each time (AT&T then Verizon) and disputed the charges. They both told me she had texted some joke line or movie line and was getting daily jokes or movie updates.

    It just so happened that the first time I saw the bill I had had the phone in MY possession because she was in trouble for something else. I called AT&T and explained to them that she hadn’t done it (after checking with her). They told me it was something she initiated and was getting texts daily from the company. I told them “Oh, really? They prove they are sending them, because I’ve had the phone with me for two days and it has been on and not a SINGLE text came in from them.”

    They checked further in their records and saw that there was NO evidence that the texts were ever sent or received. Money refunded and service stopped. Also had all such services blocked.

    Fast forward a few years. My daughter, now a junior in high school, somehow (in her sleep?) texted a number she had never heard of and in initiated movie updates of some kind. She was rather upset about the bill. “If they’re going to charge us the least they could do is give me what I’m paying for.” I called Verizon and went through the same spiel as I had with AT&T. Same results, too. There were no actual records except within the phantom company that she had ever texted them or that they had sent her anything. Verizon’s own records didn’t know anything. Difference was we couldn’t block paid content like we could with Verizon, but I watch my bill closely online and dispute the occasional slamming that happens.

    For a company to not be able or willing to show the actual use is unconscionable.

  38. Nonbuyer says:

    I used to work for Verizon getting calls all the time regarding bills. If I was OP, I’d check for some of the following:

    2888 MB is about the average size of a 2-3 minute audio song, and for the average YouTube video, that’s probably not even a full minute in length. Possibly check some of the programs on the phone capable of accessing video or audio files online to see if there’s a history of anything having been played on it… a lot of phones you should be able to view that.

    Double check to make sure that nothing was downloaded to the phone recently. Even something as innocuous as a game or a wallpaper can really hurt the bill.

    You may want to look at past bills to see if there were any charges on there previously for MB usage. OP states that the bill would fluctuate by about $50 every month, how much of that is due to MB usage? At least when I worked there, we were allowed to refund the charges first time around and to offer blocks on accessing the data services, which can also affect picture or video messaging if those have ever been used on the phone, or the preferred method, which was to offer Vcast for $15/month. However, if the charges are ongoing, Verizon is going to assume that the person using said phone was aware of the charges and they’ll be less likely to work with someone complaining about such charges.

    Finally, was there a recent shift from America’s Choice to the Nationwide calling plan? The America’s Choice was the old plan Verizon offered– among other things, it allowed people to access Mobile Web by using minutes. However, the plan didn’t cover nearly as much of the country when it came to using the internet, because of network limitations. And as a lot of people have discovered, due to the cell phone makers and cell phone network providers working together, even accidentally bumping a key can cause a charge. It’s one of those things that people never noticed before because before when America’s Choice packages were around it just took from one’s minutes. And it’s not something that every 3rd party vendor, direct store rep, or customer service agent will tell someone when they move to the Nationwide plan, either due to ignorance or willful deceit.

    • homehome says:

      Uh, 2888 MB is over 2 gigabytes. It’s bigger than the size of a blu ray movie. How do you accidentally download that much. 1 question, is the content on her phone, is it showing that it was downloaded on her verizon acct. 2 things that can easily be found out by the customer. That’s alot of info to claim it’s an accident. And honestly, if she doesn’t know how to use the phone, isn’t it much more probable that the woman actually did it, using logic. I know this site is devoid of that sometimes, but really think about that, if you don’t know how to use something, you’re much more likely to make a mistake.

      • Nonbuyer says:

        Yeah, I misread that, it being late at night at the time when I replied. The rest of my post still applies, though, in this case particularly the browsing history of the phone on apps that can stream music or video.

    • DJSeanMac says:

      2.8 MB is a 2-3 minute song, not 2888 MB. I’m reminded of the 0.02¢ math here.

  39. icruise says:

    The thing that annoys me most about stories like this (aside from the fact that it’s possible for someone to inadvertently spend thousands of dollars and receive essentially nothing in return) is that it clearly didn’t cost Verizon anywhere near $1,500 to provide the data in question. It’s not as if their infrastructure costs change depending on whether the customer has a data plan or not. They appear to be using the threat of sky-high bills like this to frighten people into getting plans that they don’t really need. It shouldn’t be necessary to get a plan as an “insurance policy” in case you accidentally use a bunch of data in one month.

  40. Mike dg says:

    Someone would have to stream over 40 hours of music at reasonable quality to hit 2888 megs of data in a month. I can’t imagine that being accidental.

  41. zibby says:

    This is rough. So far I’ve been able to avoid playing Old Person Cel Phone Roulette, but I’ve heard plenty of stories…

  42. XanthorXIII says:

    I wonder if one of them had put the phone in the purse and some object in the purse kept hitting the charge me $1.50 each time I press this button. Or if a small child got a hold of the phone and was having a field day hitting that button.
    Ah Verizon, only you could come up with something so evil. While other companies just stand around day dreaming about some type of button like this, you go ahead and actually do it, staying ahead of the game.
    Stay Classy Verizon.

  43. ogman says:

    This is why I won’t be giving up my media player, in favor of streaming media to my phone, anytime soon.

  44. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    So Verizon can just say this woman used the data and charge her for it without proof of some kind? That’s scary. I was thinking of switching to Verizon to get an iPhone since TMobile just screwed me over on billing. But forget that.

  45. CalicoGal says:

    Some details are missing– is this a smart phone? Did the OP look up the account online and see when the data transfers took place?

  46. kewpie says:

    The main problem here is that Verizon is charging ridiculous overage fees for a service they refuse to turn off on the phone, and then they refuse to notify people when their bills are uncharacteristically climbing dangerously high. It’s fine to charge a higher rate to people who aren’t signed up for the data plan, but their rates are ridiculously high and many of their phones have internet buttons that are easy to hit accidentally.

    The OP shouldn’t bother with the BBB, they aren’t going to be able to do anything particularly helpful. Verizon has lots of BBB complaints, but that doesn’t stop anyone from using them. Instead, the OP should file a complaint with the FTC explaining that Verizon refuses to show them the actual data usage, Verizon refuses to turn off internet access at customers’ request, and Verizon refuses to set up any kind of warning system before charging customers ridiculously high rates for otherwise inexpensive services. https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

    Verizon couldn’t care less if you complain to the BBB, but too many complaints about the same thing to the FTC could result in a future change in law, so they want those complaint resolved so they are removed from the registry.

  47. maruawe says:

    I would ask for a detailed bill for the questionable amount. I have read stories like this a lot more often than I like to think. Probably this was an error in the billing department and they are unwilling to admit that they made a mistake …It would be easy for them to add this to any phone number that they wanted to add it too…..Miss billing from Verizon is very common and they are never willing to negotiate a clear amount. and I have heard that they will piecemeal the rest of the
    negotiated amount over the months on your bill as add on charges…. Watch your bill carefully from now until the contract expires then Run like the devil to a more reputable dealer for your cell phone needs.

  48. failurate says:

    It amazes me how they can sell unlimited data for $30 bucks a month while at the same time bill someone else $1,500.00 for 3 gigs of data.

  49. SmokeyBacon says:

    There is something wonky with Verizon – I have heard stories like this before, and we had a tech here (who knew less than nothing about computers/smart phones/etc) and he had a basic phone through the company that couldn’t even download stuff yet somehow they billed us for data on that phone. For something that was impossible to use. Heck, the don’t even let the techs have text messaging so it couldnt’ have been that even.

    Is it possible for them to give you the information on what the data really was instead of just speculation? I know on my phone I can get a download history for things like songs/games/etc. so if they are claiming it is probably that, shouldn’t they also be able to provide that information for this phone?

  50. Errr... says:

    Did the OP’s mom have a smartphone and switch to a dumb phone by any chance? I had an issue with this recently when I lost my Android phone that had an unlimited data plan. I switched to an old dumb phone that I had until I could find the Android phone I’d misplaced. The phone switch removed the data plan, which wasn’t a huge deal because I was only going to use the phone for calls. Then I got a huge bill.
    After talking to less-than-helpful reps at customer care, I spoke with tech support. The rep there was very helpful and knew right away what the problem was. Apparently, Verizon’s system makes feature changes (like data plans) effective at midnight the day of the change, so if you access the internet between midnight and the time you change your phone (and the data plan), you are charged the per MB rate for any data done that day. The tech support rep noted the account, but he couldn’t do a credit, so he transferred me back to customer care and the rep credited all the erroneous data charges on my account.

  51. mikells43 says:

    prob pushed a wrong button on it, people today just dont want to accept responsibility for what they do, ive never been billed for something i never used and ive been a customer for over 10 years.

  52. chucklesjh says:

    I’m not going to read through all the comments but I’m sure someone mentioned this already:

    You can go into your account on vzw.com and DISABLE mobile internet and other various features. Everyone should do this when older people are on the plan. I’m still on a family plan with my parents and I started to see a few KBs on my mom’s line, you CAN butt-dial the internet and the VCAST crap and not know. Disabled internet and now if there’s a charge, I have a legal leg to stand on that we’re not going to pay for that data.

  53. Jimmy37 says:

    When I got my ATT plan, I was annoyed that the phone button was just below the browser button. Invariably, I’d hit the browser button and get dinged for a few cents every month. I stopped this nonsense by completely shutting off Internet access. I also turned off 900 numbers and texting, since I wasn’t planning on using these features.