Stories of mobile phone subscribers landed with huge bills are the stuff of urban legend but for a Florida woman a $US201,000 monthly bill has turned out to be no billing error.
In a story reported on Miami TV station WSVN-TV, T-Mobile customer Celina Aarons was given a huge shock when a normal August monthly bill for $US175 for her phone and data service turned into a 43-page bill totalling the astonishing six-digit sum.
The $US201,005.44 turned out to have been run up by her son while on a vacation for two weeks in Canada, where he sent over 2,000 texts and downloaded several large video files on a data roaming tariff, which alone explains at least $US5,700 of the charges.
That would be bad enough but the teen inadvertently left the phone connected to the Internet for the whole period as well, which added another $US195,000 in roaming charges.
After Aarons queried the bill with the phone company the unpleasant reality of the bill left her questioning T-Mobile's billing policies.
"Wouldn't you let me know as the primary holder and they are saying 'no we respect your privacy'. What privacy? That is my account," she told the TV station.
"Oh my God, my future is done, that's it. That's all I can think about. My life is over. I can't do nothing, it's done," she said describing her initial feelings.
There is no requirement under Florida law for the company to notify a subscriber that a bill has far exceeded a normal monthly total although the company claimed it had sent texts to the handset that roaming should be turned off.
T-Mobile has since agreed to waive the bulk of the bill if Aarons pays back $US2,500 over the next six months. That still leaves a relieved Aarons with a large bill but a good story.