What's the Worst "Bill Shock" You've Ever Experienced From a Telecom?

Illustration for article titled Whats the Worst Bill Shock Youve Ever Experienced From a Telecom?

Ron Dorff, 83, uses dial-up to connect to the Internet as one of AOL’s 2.2 million remaining customers. In the space of two months, he racked up $24,000 in AT&T charges when his modem erroneously dialed an international number to get online. What’s the most ridiculous bill you’ve received from a telecom provider?


Luckily for Mr. Dorff, after initial insistence that he pay the outrageous bill, AT&T backpedaled, probably realizing that such an obscene demand of an octogenarian who lives off of Social Security checks wouldn’t be worth the PR implosion. The Ars Technica article on the matter doesn’t make clear whether the wrong number selection originated with Mr. Dorff or as a technical error, but at least AT&T did the right thing in this case and waived the bill.

Others haven’t been so lucky. Telecom companies are notorious for issuing crazy bills, often without warning that egregious extra charges have been accumulating. Five years ago, the FCC was interested in imposing regulations so that companies couldn’t induce “bill shock,” which it defines as:

[a] sudden and unexpected increase in monthly bills that is not caused by a change in service plans. Bill shock can occur for a number of reasons including unclear or misunderstood advertising, unanticipated roaming or data charges, and other problems.


While the regulations do not appear to have come to fruition (how shocking), the FFC.gov website has advice for consumers who have experienced bill shock calamity, plus awesomely helpful tips like “If you are an infrequent phone user, consider a pre-paid plan. Because you ‘pre-pay’ for all your minutes, these plans make it impossible to go over your set limit.” Thanks, FCC!

Are you a victim of bill shock? Tell us about the most egregious shit telecoms have tried to pull.

Image via Flickr



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Zorin the Lynx

Considering that the “long distance” calling that this customer did probably didn’t cost AT&T an additional cent, it would have been absurd for them to do anything BUT waive the bill.

The concept of “long distance” calling is obsolete. I can send many gigs of data to a friend in Australia at no additional cost over the Internet. Why the hell should an hour voice call over the same distance cost a fortune when it uses a tiny fraction of that data?

C’mon telcos, kill “long distance”. At the very LEAST, kill *domestic* long distance. I can call anywhere in the US for free with my cellular phone, but someone picking up a land line phone making the same call has to pay. Why exactly? Get rid of this outdated business model.