Grampa Gibson’s grandchildren stream 3 movies while on vacation, racks up $10,668.38 roaming bill


  • jonny

    Even $1000 is way too much!

    • Alex Perrier

      True that! Over $333 for each movie is an expensive movie rental! At least he took the lowest compression setting, otherwise his bill would have TRIPLED! Next time, it’s best to avoid $3/MB fees by taking a plan like T-Mobile’s $30 for 5 GB (not sure if tetherable).

    • cman

      No its not. Its a different country and carrier. why are all you people wanting regulations or prepaid. as a consumer YOU should be aware of how the product you are purchasing operates. There is ample information out there to tell you what happens when you use another carrier’s service. Everyone on here thinks everything should be free or regulated.

      Lets start by regulating things like parking tickets when the violation is $60 on a $2 parking spot. Or gasoline where I am paying more than 50% in government tax.

      Get real people.

  • monkeysweat

    roaming data rates are ridiculous,, i thought 3 per MB was insane,, but 6??? must be rogers!!

    even 0.10 per MB is too much,, — maybe .02 to .05 per MB would be a reasonable number,, it would still mean 20 dollars to stream 1 movie – but you know what, I would be more apt to use my roaming data if the rates were that low,, the companies may actually make more money as I’m sure most people shut off their roaming data to avoid insane fees

    • monkeysweat

      was sasktel, sorry, missed that — i’m sure MTS would do the same thing!

  • Alpha

    So, it looks like common sense AND personal responsibility can be negotiated for a price. That price is a 90% discount.

  • Craig

    For God’s sake, SaskTel could have done the right thing and just waived ALL the charges. I mean, it’s a poor grandpa and his grandchildren. Would it kill phone companies to just show some goodwill?

  • 0defaced

    how about we all stop being little corporate bit*hes and start realizing that this is not the way data should be……

    get some balls people.

  • Jay

    Sasktel doesn’t need $1000… The goodwill they would get from waiving all charges would well exceed their actual data expenses.

    Poor guy, and shame on Sasktel, unless this was a repeated incident there is no reason to stick this old man with a thousand dollar invoice.

    • armdrivein

      yes they should have him pay for some of it, he doesnt deny streaming does he? ignorance is not an excuse neither is OLD AGE. if you dont know what your plan includes maybe this ‘grandpa’ and the rest of canadians who are shocked to receive high roaming bills should educate themselves before leaving the country. all the information is easily accessible online or even picking up the phone and getting information from your carrier. people do not like to take responsibility for their actions and blame carriers for their stupidity.

    • MG

      It’s not about the $1000. As much as I find disturbing the roaming rates (and data & voice rates for that matter), I get that the service providers cannot waive all of the charges in these circumstances. If they do, they’d be setting a precedent and next thing you know, everybody would roam and ask for the charges to be waived.

      The issue is none other than abusive roaming rates. They should not be like that to begin with, and until THAT doesn’t happen, we will always hear about unaware customers being dinged in absurd ways, and still having to say thank you for “only” charging them $1000…

      Assuming there really is not much that can be done about it, grampa will have to fork over $1000, the CRTC should force the companies to donate the money to charity. This way at least they don’t get to keep it (although they’d get a tax credit).

  • droidacolyte

    The industry should consider moving towards a pre-paid business model. People can buy a phone outright with a credit card (it’s the same as a cell phone contract. You’re taking out a loan either way. The credit card has a 20% interest rate. But a Robellus or WIND Pay After cell phone bill can turn out to be a much bigger nightmare than 20% interest..) You only have to pay the $10 minimum every month on your credit card. Or the manufacturers (like Apple, Samsung, HTC, etc.) and stores (like Best Buy, Futureshop, etc.) can sell the phones with an installment payment plan that you pay for separately as opposed to integrating it with your cell phone plan.

  • Jeeverz

    I usually am unsimpethetic to i****s that do this, but however I do feel bad for Granpa Gibson.. It is hard for me to point fingers and say he should have kept tabs on what his laptop is getting used for and such..

    $1000 is still a heavy price to pay, I know it was reduced but I am saying its a tough lesson for poor grandpa.

  • staytrue

    Exactly. Unless this was a recurring problem, ALL the fees should have been waived. A brief and thorough guide about usage, roaming, and handset use should also have been provided to prevent any further mishaps.

  • Mike

    Not that I agree with what carriers charge for roaming, but…it amazes me how it’s 2012 and people still don’t know roaming is stupid expensive and should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.

    • MG

      Yes, indeed. I wonder why kids are not taught that in grade school? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? That’s like telling rape victims they should have known better than walk the through the dark alley.
      Mike, you obviously don’t have kids, and surely must be a freaking genius…

  • Tom

    SaskTel shouldn’t really be the target of the rage here – they already forgave most of the bill. The remaining portion will likely cover the bill that SaskTel is going to get from their roaming partner.

    • KV

      So it costs SaskTel 1,000 with their roaming partners and they charge 10,000 to their customers making a tidy profit of 9,000 for not doing anything. This seems like an example of corporate greed and is by no means acceptable.

      Where the f*ck is the CRTC on this? That’s right, too busy enjoying their kickbacks from the telecommunication industry to care about consumer protection.

    • Adam

      consumer protection? When you sign a contract, part of it explicitly states you will be charged for roaming. When you sign up for a netstick, they explicitly tell you about roaming. Obviously $10K is rediculous, and good on sasktel (anyone really will do the same) on reducing it, but no reason to waive it all.

      If i go into the US and get $100 bill for roaming, they won’t do anything. If a guy gets a $10K bill, it’s supposed to magically disappear? Hell no!

  • Dave

    Roaming charges are too damn high!

  • Big 3

    Wow even the Crown Corporation is no different than the Big 3. I mean if the gov’t is doing this then I don’t know what to say

    Now I have some doubts on the upcoming spectrum auction that would support new entrants

  • g-money

    I don’t know you guys are saying: poor grandpa.
    The guy owns a Oil and Gas business.

  • I’m going to say a dirty word

    I’m going to say a dirty word: Regulate. Regulate the rates, or at least threaten to. Watch what happens next, and smile 🙂

  • paul

    The CRTC should mandate a roaming limit (e.g., $100) that the Telecoms have to enforce. If you exceed your limit, you are automatically cut off. Of course you can choose to increase your limit, but at least this forces you to understand what you’re doing. The fact that people are accidentally spending $10,000 without realizing it points to a problem in the system that the Telecoms have no incentive to fix. This is where government NEEDS to step up!!

  • dave

    Regulate? Myself I think the ‘people’ should own many necessary things. Communication, fuel, utilities, etc. Private industries can rip people off for donuts and socks.

    • Adam

      Streaming netflix internationally isn’t a “Necessary thing”

  • Terry

    The problem is roaming rates are absurd in every country.

    It’s because there’s no international standardization of rate among countries, so carriers are able to charge crazy amounts to each other letting them all make mad bank and no one can do anything about it.

  • andy c

    The general public are id1ots

    Now that I got that out of the way it should be mandatory that out of network roaming is defaulted to off on all cellular devices.

    • Adam

      How exactly do you do that on a data stick?

      It’s a stick with no screen or buttons. Use common sense.

      it’s already off by default on most smartphones, tough to do on a data stick.

    • Ryan

      Not difficult at all. All of the data sticks I have used easily allow you to toggle roaming on and off in the desktop software. They also usually have it turned off by default.

  • xayoz

    Sasktel takes the loss on some of the roaming charges, customer pays $1000, and everyone walks away happy.

    Roaming charges aren’t 100% determined by your home carrier. Take a look at cruise ships. They charge $7 a minute, and they tell you that they are the ones billing it. Use your phone, look at the bill, and you will see a charge for $7 a minute. No mark up from the carriers.

    And you think our rates are high and unreasonable? Americans coming to Canada pay $15 a MB. Not the $3-6 most of us pay down there.

    Of course, the Big 3, and some of the smaller players, also let you know when you are roaming. Sasktel, not so much. They get the pleasure of being a government agency, so can afford to get away with conduct that the private companies gave up on.

  • AmyR

    I’m always amazed at the number of people that rail against the evil corporations. Regardless of what you may think of the rates let’s look at some of the facts here.

    1. Nowhere in the article does it state that gramps is not financially well off.
    2. Gramps SIGNED a contract agreeing to the T&Cs as well as the rates.
    3. The rates are published and readily available through their call centre staff.
    4. Ignorance does NOT absolve gramps.
    5. Gramps could have easily left the data stick at home.
    6. Gramps needs to learn to tell the grandsons “no” every once in a while. If the only reason they want to be around him is cause she gives them everything they want, then he needs to pay the price.
    7. Gramps is either technically savvy enough to want a data stick.

    Call me a hard butt, or an itch, but the reality is that mobile data is NOT a necessity, especially while visiting a foriegn country.

  • Money is Everything

    Tough but necessary lesson for grandpa. Props to sasktel for the discount.

  • lukeiphone

    and even at $1000, discounting the bill by 90%, sasktel still made a 90% profit.

  • Tiffany Cross

    I work for a telecommunications company in their billing department. This grandpa got off easy. All the charges come from the companies that the person was roaming on. A telecommunications company gets the files and an invoice from them and has to charge the customer what the company gets charged. There is no so called profit to be made.

  • rob

    While I do agree that 10K is ridiculous for a roaming rate, and they should have had some kind of warning system for the customer, similar what I know robelus have(I believe they start warning you around the $500 neighborhood).

    but seriously, with all the stories airing about “crazy roaming bills” how the hell can you NOT know that this is a bad idea these days!!!???

    thankfully we live in a society where it’s ok not to take responsability for your own actions.

  • Plazmic

    Are people really still this dumb?

  • abualjooj

    Roaming in some countries can be as high as $40/mb. Ask me about it, got a bill from Rogers for over 400 in roaming data charges for a 10mb of usage.
    basically my stupid bb downloaded all my emails when I left it to charge overnight…the day before I flew back.
    Really think they need to warn customers who are roaming when they reach a certain amounts.

    • sunhammer

      I can’t remember if Rogers ever sent me notifications when roaming… but now on Telus, i’m roaming on At&t the last few days in Florida and just received an SMS saying i exceeded $10 in data roaming fees (I needed to check Google Maps!!) and to consider a travel plan. Nice.

      btw, turn off data roaming on your BB and stick to wifi. This is how I never get slapped with huge data fees.

  • MattyMattMatt

    I think there is an overlooked issue here. A lot of people are dumb and think that since they already pay for netflix they don’t incur extra fees elsewhere. I sell phones and have come across these tools with large bills on local rates. Calling cards are another good example. The one minute connection is ld so that adds up quickly and you have someone coming in with a for hundred dollar bill…damn fools.

  • tram

    wow . This site is clearly frequented by a lot of forever alone phone geek jerkoffs. “How do people not know this”… shut the f**k up. Most people (especially an old man) don’t know about data roaming charges until they get screwed. If sasktel really wanted to help people they’d disable data abroad by default.

  • sdf

    Bloodsuckers. $1000, someone should get a Sainthood for such mercifulness.

  • Money is Everything

    Of course if the telcos really cared about customers they would disable roaming once a certain amount has been reached. But they want to make money so they don’t. I find it strange that data roaming is $25/mb for every non us country in the world. Clearly they are making profit in the spread.

    • Hum?

      this already exists. You get cut off at $300 on rogers

  • Jer

    These types of rates should be illegal, I don’t care if it’s his fault or not. Those companies are truly raping their own customers and have zero guilt doing it. I’d love to see those abusive companies fall, like the music industry after years of molesting people.

  • Wireless

    In an ideal world maybe one day we could have a global wireless carrier. I don’t think it’s as simple as people may think. Each country has their own jurisdiction and their way of governement. Simular roaming rates apply for when foreigners travel to our county, Canada charges their country for roaming as well. Things are more regulated than you might think; otherwise, if it was that easy, someone would have come up with it already. It’s simple cost to do business; otherwise, we could say the same for taxes. There are many things we don’t appreciate. American carriers charge $40.00 for a small little sim card, we only pay $10, now that’s a rip off!

  • Scazzz

    He should be forced to pay 100% of it. Ignorance is never an excuse…

  • cman

    strange that they did this. when i cross the border i get a text message telling me about roaming. why is the carrier responsible? be a smart consumer and we won’t have this problem.

    We don’t need the CRTC to step in and regulate it. Is is not the USSR.

  • Rylan

    AmyR’s comment is right on. READ your contracts people. This is a business, not a god given right to have a cell phone. Business are in business to make profit. It is nice SaskTel helped him with the bill but by no means does it have to. Get real all you folks making comments saying it is on the telecoms! it is the sum consumers like all of you that need to wake up and read your contracts and terms.

  • aka

    Funny how people suggest that Sasktel covers the full $10k when it’s clearly gramps ignorance that put him into this situation. I am sure those same people wouldn’t be so charitable if it was their $10k “profit” to be refunded.

    And surely gramps should have realized that after 3 movies, no less, while in AZ vacationing for Christmas, that he should have put a stop to it.

    According to Sasktel’s website, the plan that gets charged $6/MB US roaming is the $25/month 500MB plan. Really? He let his grand children watch Netflix with a 500MB plan? I found this info on their website in less than 10-15 seconds.

    In this day and age and all those headlines about ‘worst cell phone bills’, clearly before travelling, do people not find out the rates before travelling? ignorance is not bliss, it’s costly.

    He said his bills are normally $89 a month, assuming optimistically $60 profit a month for Sasktel after operating expense, to pay off the $9k write off, it would take 150 months or 12.5 years!!

  • See?

    See? Telco fanboys don’t like that dirty word. They have a point. Roaming rates are wholesale data blocks in the TB range bilaterally negotiated and resold on a tiered basis. Can’t regulate in another jurisdiction.

  • Rogers CEO

    I think given the number of accidental roaming charges, there needs to be some change. You can’t blame people for not understanding their contract or for not understanding what it means to “roam”. Not everybody can be a phone geek. What needs to happen is all personal plans (business excluded) should have roaming disabled by default. If you want to enable it you would then automatically be put on a limit (say 200$). If you wanted a higher limit you would have to put a deposit (say 1000$). This is the only way people can become aware of the costs associated with roaming. And common, seriously, who in their right mind uses roaming at the current rates? I think the only people who use roaming are the ones who don’t know what roaming means and the ones we hear about on the news. That’s abuse.

  • Ardith


    Bell has a US data roaming plan for personal accounts. It just became available in November. Its call PDA North America. Its $45 for 1gb.

  • L

    6$/MB is just ridiculous. Heck some even charge 10$/MB…

    The base cost of the service to the provider isn’t higher than someone who has a 6GB for 30$ plan.

    Suppose a plan @ 30$ for 2GB, which should be easy to provide given the costs. That’s 1.5cent/MB. If you start charging 10$/MB because you’re “not on a plan”, that’s 666 TIMES the price! How can any company justify that???

    Rework the price model to actually fit the cost model and people won’t be complaining as much.

    Not just that… how can you justify not warning the customer before he racks up a 10k bill?!?? Send him a fkn text, send him an email, give him a call… “Dude, you’re already up 3 times your normal bill, look out!”

    These telecom companies are being protected by the government and the small amount of bandwidth available. This is why we see all these abusive behaviors. They should be forced to justify their pricing model.

  • LJ

    Of course we are all responsible for signed contracts. That said, there is no common sense with respect to Data Rates. I am very tech savy and now have an AT&T sim card so I don’t have to worry now but I have been in the situation of having an $800 bill for using my phone while in the US. No streaming of movies or downloading of any files…just internet usage.

  • ehoustoun

    graciously reducing to $1000? Does anyone honestly believe that sasktel was put out by 1.5GB of data used on a partners network? that’s abismal, that kind of money should give you like 6 months of roaming service.