Can I throw my cellphone provider out the window?
November 8, 2011 3:06 AM   Subscribe

How do I avoid paying a $2345 cell phone bill on a phone that was stolen?!

So I just opened my Canadian cell phone bill which I thought was put to the lcheapest plan I could (to maintain a Canadian voicemail for my grandparents...long story), and I found a $2345.56 cell phone bill for charges I did not make! I am currently in NORWAY and have been for the last 4 months. I left my phone deactivated without a charger at my parent's place. So its physically impossible for me to have made these charges!!

It appears that somehow it got stolen or there a major error in my bill. I'm freaking out, and planning to call Koodo (my provider) once they open this morning.

I'm in university, broke, and overseas and there is NO possible way I would be able to afford the bill as is. Has anyone dealt with this sucessfully in the past? Or have any advice so I can calm myself the heck down and figure out how to talk to the cell phone people? I've had terrible luck in the past dealing with cell phone companies and dealing with them again is not something I am looking forward to.
posted by snowysoul to Work & Money (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Have you contacted your parents? Is the phone still there?
posted by Ms. Next at 3:23 AM on November 8, 2011

Your first step should be to call your parents. I find it hard to believe that they wouldn't have mentioned it to you if their house had been broken into and your phone had been stolen. Second step would be to confirm that they haven't been using your phone. If the phone is still in their possession and they haven't been using it, the most likely scenario is a computer error at their end. There are other possibilities (such as your phone has been cloned) and those will be more difficult to deal with but first you should find out if your phone has actually been stolen (if it has and you didn't report it to the phone company straight away, you may still be on the hook for those calls, although you could probably negotiate a payment plan or a settlement, getting some money out of you is better for them than getting nothing or having to pursue you through court judgements and debt collectors when you don't pay because you don't have the money)
posted by missmagenta at 3:29 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

It appears that somehow it got stolen or there a major error in my bill. I'm freaking out, and planning to call Koodo (my provider) once they open this morning. If it was stolen or your account hacked, they may require that you fill out a police report. I'm likening this to if you are in the US and have your identity stolen a police report is required.

I would start with calling your provider. Remain calm. Work your way up the food chain, while being polite. Explain your story. Be prepared to repeat said story multiple times. If you loose your temper, you won't win.

Remain calm, you'll think clearer.
posted by 6:1 at 3:30 AM on November 8, 2011 [5 favorites]

You have been out of the country without that phone for 4 months. That means for the last 3 months at least, your bill has been a reasonable amount so this sudden spike is very very unusual, even to the phone company. They will be apt to listen to you.

I would call your parents first, have them check the location of the phone and verify that they still have it and it is still off. This way you will know for sure the situation with the phone.

Does your phone use a SIM card or is it a non-SIM CDMA phone? If it uses a SIM card, verify that the SIM is still in the phone.

Once you know all these facts, write them down. When you are on the phone to the company refer to the facts only. Don't mention how broke you are, it doesn't matter - you should not pay this bill as it is an error or a theft.
posted by like_neon at 3:49 AM on November 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Before calling the company: You may need a way to prove you were in Norway (transcript, utility bill, something) while the phone sat in Canada "doing nothing," if that is the case.
posted by kuanes at 4:27 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

If your phone was deactivated, nobody should have been able to do anything with it. This would have had to change on the phone company's end. This sounds like a major screw up on their end.
posted by DoubleLune at 4:42 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Is that the exact amount because it looks suspiciously like dummy data! 2345.56 is quite natural to type, especially if prefixed with an amount as the keys are right next to each other.
posted by Wysawyg at 5:00 AM on November 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice all, I feel a lot more equipped to deal with this now. I called my parents, they are convinced don't have it. Not sure what happened there. I have an idea of where it may be (though I seriously hope not...). And wysawyg, I seriously wish it was a mistake... I checked my bill and airtime to see what could of possibly been that crazy.. There's over $1000 dollars of long distances minutes alone. Will update when I talk to them later.
posted by snowysoul at 5:06 AM on November 8, 2011

Did you think about a test call to one of the numbers on the bill? It might confirm if you know the person who has the phone.
posted by NoDef at 6:02 AM on November 8, 2011

Are you 100% sure these aren't just data charges and incredibly expensive due to apps working in the background during the period the phone was on?
posted by MuffinMan at 8:58 AM on November 8, 2011

Have tried calling the phone to see if somebody answers?
posted by banshee at 10:23 AM on November 8, 2011

Response by poster: Update! I just spent the last two days (including sending the company a copy of my lease in Norway) convincing them that the cell phone was likely stolen and that it was impossible for me to make those charges. I ended up with a really helpful person today and they got permission to waive most of the charges. Total I had to pay was $225, including paying to end my contract. Thanks for the help!
posted by snowysoul at 11:31 AM on November 10, 2011

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