Canada’s Worst Cellphone Bill Part 2 – “$8000 Please”, says Virgin Mobile

by Gaurav Kheterpal on July 7, 2010

In March, I wrote a story covering the “Canada’s Worst Cellphone Bill” campaign organized by CBC Marketplace team. Nearly four months after, we’ve another candidate for the top slot of Canada’s most horrendous cell phone bill. Meet Jason Boutang, a Calgary resident who visited France for three days and then received the shock of his life when he received a statement of his June bill saying he owed Virgin Mobile a whopping sum of $7,763.70

His fault – he used a translator application, which he thought was free, to help him communicate with the French and streamed a Calgary rock radio station for five hours over three days. The poor fellow says that he did not know that know that both these functions require internet signal. While his argument is ridiculous, I believe that Virgin Mobile should have cautioned him in order to avoid this nasty surprise.

While the use of translation app seems reasonable, more so when the app itself was available as a free download. But five hours of streaming radio station from his hometown in Calgary, you got to be kidding. Whoever said that “Ignorance is bliss” obviously did not Mr. Boutang. Further, I fail to believe that a car salesman wouldn’t know the implications of using his cellphone so heavily on an international roaming network.

Virgin Mobile shut his phone off after three days, presumably due to the escalating charges. However, my point is that should they have waited for three days in order to pull the plug on Mr. Boutang’s phone services? After all, a simple text message from Virgin Mobile with a roaming charges warning could have avoided this horror story. Mr. Boutang further claims that he called Virgin Mobile a couple weeks before he left to inform them he would be taking his iPhone with him to Europe but the carrier’s customer service representatives did not tell him any details about the roaming data plan.

Boutang has filed a complaint with CRTC on Friday & is adamant not to pay till he receives a response from the Commission. Understandably fed up of Virgin Mobile, he has switched loyalties and is now a Rogers customer. On Tuesday, Virgin Mobile said it has decided to reduce Boutang’s bill down to about $2,000, which is nearly the same amount that he would have paid if he had opted for a roaming data plan. It’s not known if Boutang has agreed to the pay the revised bill.

So, who’s at fault? IMO, Boutang’s theory that the charges levied on him are “criminal” is a non-starter argument. A smartphone doesn’t turn a dumb user into a smart user, it leads to a dumb phone bill. At the same time, I really wish that Virgin Mobile should have adopted a more pro-active approach in order to avoid this incident.

What do you think? Is it all Mr. Boutang’s fault? Should Virgin Mobile be let off with a clean slate? Please share your opinion by leaving a comment below this post.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. www.digitcom.ca >. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com > by: RSS>, Twitter >, Identi.ca >, or Friendfeed >

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