Family Still Fighting Verizon's $18,000 Phone Bill, Four Years Later

Everyone's read stories about outrageous cell phone bills, and you might even know someone who's racked one up themselves. But the Boston Globe has an interesting look at where one such instance stands four years down the line: totally unresolved.

The setup here is a familiar one. In 2006, 21-year-old college student Bryan St. Germain was on his family's Verizon plan and thought that their unlimited data plan, which they had previously as an introductory offer, still applied. Over the course of two months, he downloaded about 800 megabytes of data with his computer tethered to his phone. In the months following his activity, the family was slapped with two bills totaling $18,000.

Bob St. Germain, Bryan's father and the account holder, was incensed and refused to pay. He consulted with state utility officials, who agreed with him and even tried to talk Verizon into dropping the charges. They wouldn't, but offered to cut the bill in half to $9,000. St. Germain, as well as his supporters, still thought this was unsatisfactory, especially considering Verizon's failure to make the terms introductory offer clear.

For his part, St. Germain has filed a complaint with the attorney general's office and reached out to two state senators for help resolving the matter. Verizon has handed the reduced $9,000 bill over to a collection agency. Still, neither are showing any sign of backing down.

And it's tough to say who should back down here. Clearly this poor guy shouldn't have to pay $9,000 for a mistake that Verizon left especially easy to make, though I don't necessarily think they can just forget about the whole thing and scrap the charges altogether. The best compromise: Verizon puts Bob St. Germain in their next TV spot about unlimited data plans, recoups the years-old charges from his pay, and everyone calls it a day. He's not an unphotogenic fellow! [Boston Globe]