These days, it's not unusual at all for children to entertain themselves with a smartphone or tablet in the backseat during a family drive. That's exactly what Mike Domzalski's 11 year old son was doing during a day trip over spring break last month. While the family drove to visit a new city, the boy watched YouTube videos on an iPad to pass the miles.
But days later, Domzalski got the shock of his life when his cellphone bill arrived to the tune of $17,465.86! "I thought it was a practical joke or something," Domzalski told Detroit TV station, WJBK.
Here's a portion of Domzalski's bill from his cellphone carrier, AT&T.
But just one problem. It wasn't a joke and AT&T was completely serious about collecting the huge bill.
"They want to charge me $17,000," Domzalski told the TV station. "I just think it's insanity. (I'm) more than willing to pay what the actual rate would be. A couple hundred dollars but this is like buying a brand new car for a roaming charge."
Could your tablet or smartphone rang up a huge bill like this?
Here's how it happened to the Domzalski family. The family lives in the Detroit suburb of Macomb Township, Michigan. Macomb is just a few miles from the Canadian border. Also important to this story is that the boy's iPad is wirelessly connected to Domzalski's AT&T cellphone. When the family crossed over the border into Canada, international roaming fees kicked in. According to the bill pictured above, the first hour of data cost nearly $12,000. But the fees kept piling up to about $17,500 until finally AT&T shut down the service 5 hours later.
WXYZ asked AT&T for a comment and an AT&T spokesperson responded with the following statement:
"Because the data was downloaded outside of the U.S., international rates apply. In this case it was more than five hours of continuous data usage. We encourage people to enroll in our international plan." The statement continued, "once a customer crosses into Canada, a third-party carrier takes over and it's out of their hands."
Domzalski replied, "By not making a phone call to set up something on an iPad which I might have missed," he said. "I shouldn't have to pay $17,500."
But this story does have a happy ending. After the TV station broadcast a news report about Domzalski's insane data bill, AT&T reversed its position. The telecom giant says it will waive the charges.
What about you? Have you ever been hit with some unexpected cellphone charges? If so, how was it resolved. Please let me know in the comments below.