This is not the usual case of a high cellphone bill charge. Typically we see massive bills from those who stream movies or radio stations on their device while travelling overseas, but this time it’s something a bit more unique. Here’s the scenario:
Kamloops, B.C. resident Alex Dunsmore hooked his 16-year old son Ryan up to the $35/month Unlimited Rogers texting plan. Ryan has a girlfriend and she lives about 4 blocks away. They text a lot. Ryan’s girlfriend downloaded a free texting app called “HeyWire” to her iPod and the text messages went flying. In one month it was about 1,000 loving texts to each other. Apparently the Dunsmore’s were greeted with a $400 bill at the end of the month for text overages. Alex, the father was livid – as pictured above. He connected with Rogers who said that his son is on the unlimited texting plan and wanted an explanation and a bill adjustment. Rogers stated the texts being sent via HeyWire are routed through Arlington, Illinois in the United States, hence getting dinged with text roaming charges.
Dunsmore said that “He was responding to a text.… He thought he was just texting down the street… Obviously it took a long, different path Via: Arlington, Illinois. I think that somebody somewhere has decided not to [notify customers] about this because they don’t have to… I think it’s a deliberate process on Rogers’s part to try to get more money out of their clients.” Dunsmore has refused to pay for the charges and Rogers has since sent his bill to a collection agency and cancelled his account, thus charging $400 each in termination fees. The total bill is now $1,400.
HeyWire makes their dough through in-app advertising. I checked out the iOS app terms and conditions and it states that “YES! Texting & Picture messaging from a real phone number costs us real money so by placing a small ad within the app, we keep your messages flying around the world for FREE. HeyWire does use data, so make sure you have a data plan or use Wifi where available. For your friends who aren’t on HeyWire, standard text and picture messaging rates apply to text a U.S. Phone Number (nothing extra).”
That’s pretty clear, but they probably bank on situations like this one happening. Rogers, for the time being, seems to be sticking to their guns. Spokesperson Leigh-Ann Popek said “I recognize that the customer may find this frustrating. But the account holder is ultimately responsible for the account. We do not monitor how many texts or calls customers make. But we offer the tools to allow our customers to keep a close eye on their usage. Customers are able to see their current usage through our free Rogers MyAccount app on their device or online at www.rogers.com. This is especially helpful for parents.”
A few days ago the CWTA announced that in 2011 Canadians sent 78 billion text messages. Ryan Dunsmore said his girlfriend “feels pretty bad. Not that it’s her fault or anything.”