Cellphone data shock (CBC Marketplace)

Cellphone data shock (CBC Marketplace)

(♪♪)>>It’s okay, go. Your turn.>>It’s my turn? (♪♪)>>We’re hanging out with teens today.>>I got a strike.>>Claire, Naomi and Katelyn are helping us roll out a test involving their favourite accessory, cell phones.>>Text away, snap chat away, tweet your little fingers off.>>Their parents are going to hate us. We’re letting their kids use up all the pricey data on their family share plan.>>Well ladies, start streaming. Let’s get this going.>>We want to know will the cell phone providers let them rack up extra data charges without their parents’ permission?>>Gutter ball again. Okay.>>This mom says Bell sure will. We’re in the Maritimes to hear a cell phone saga.>>I have a shocking story about my Bell bill.>>Rosemary pays for the family cell phone. To keep an eye on the bill she’s sold on a family share plan. She shares voice, text and data with her husband and two kids. When her son goes over the monthly data limit check out how much extra it costs.>>Over $1,700.>>Charlsie: Yeah, you heard that right.>>Over $1,700.>>Charlsie: That’s called a data overage charge.>>I was shocked and asked how could that happen.>>Charlsie: How could it happen? Rosemary thought government rules protected her from bill shock. How? Once you go $50 over your data is blocked. To turn it back on you have to approve, agree to pay the higher fees.>>Who approved it? It wasn’t me.>>Charlsie: Her son approved it. Bell let him consent to those higher fees. She can’t believe it and disputes the $1700 charge.>>They shouldn’t have allowed it to go over the data overages without coming to me first.>>Reporter: Rosemary pays the bill so Bell says pay up.>>I was mad. I was pretty near in tears. I mean you have other bills that are coming in and how I will end up paying for it? Don’t know.>>Charlsie: Bell credits back half the bill but not good enough. Rosemary doesn’t want to pay a dime.>>Hi, Rosemary.>>Hi, Mohammed.>>So we hook her up with cell phone bill buster Mohammed Halibi.>>So at no point were you notified by any kind of message or any kind of warning?>>Not until I got the telephone call and I was like why did you wait until it was 1700 to call me.>>This is so frustrating. Your son, did he advise you that he accepted the charges?>>You know, he is not even quite sure himself. Of course I blamed him too at the time. I said what are you doing. But I still stand by that shouldn’t be able to be done.>>What was their response to you.>>They just said well the other phone must have accepted the charges. I said how is it that they are allowed to accept the charges. I’m the account holder. How can that be?>>That’s what Mohammed wants to know. He can’t believe Bell lets kids rack up big bills.>>It’s absurd. It shouldn’t be allowed.>>Anyone with a family plan you better like gather up your kids’ phones and keep them tight to you.>>Reporter: Not even this pro can help Rosemary. He says this is a case for the CCTS. They help customers settle disputes and oversee the government rules. We asked the CCTS to make a house call. Howard maker is the commissioner for complaints for telecommunications services. He makes sure companies and customers know the rules. The wireless code of conduct says only individuals subscribing to the service can consent.>>When it comes to family share plans who can consent to those data overages?>>So in my view and in the view of CCTS that’s essentially the person who pays the freight. The person whose name is on the account. Pays the bill. The person who is paying the bill needs to be able to control and manage what’s going on on that account.>>To data.>>To data.>>Going over.>>Charlsie: Back with our teen testers who is paying the bills here? The parents of course.>>Yeah, got you.>>Will the cell phone companies ask the parents or the teens for permission to rack up extra charges? It’s tempting.>>Like everything I do on my phone like pretty much involves data. So like, I kind of melt without it.>>It’s a precious commodity they must share with the family and conserve.>>My dad will always get mad when I reach 90% of my data. So it’s just — it’s always the same discussion about getting my phone taken away or controlling how much data I use.>>Charlsie: But no worries tonight, girls. They are dining out on all you can eat data thanks to us.>>Am I stupid for doing this?>>No.>>Charlsie: Who is the first to go over the limit?>>Oh, I got a text.>>What does it say.>>It’s from Bell. So it says to help you manage your mobile costs we have temporarily blocked your data. To unblock and continue to use data open your mobile browser and select accept.>>So what you going to do?>>I’m going to accept to continue to go over my data.>>It was just one click of a button.>>Charlsie: And a teen confession. It’s not the first time she has done this.>>I have done this before. And I would go on the Internet and usually accept. Yeah. The worse that I racked up was $300 over my data. I did get in quite a bit of trouble with my dad. That was a very big argument.>>Charlsie: And friend Kyla also with Bell says she has too.>>Literally every time I go over data, Kyla you are going to lose your phone, Kyla you’ll lose all your privileges.>>Charlsie: Moments later Claire hits her limit too.>>I just got a text from Telus. To unblock data and accept further data charges, reply yes to this message. (♪♪)>>It’s cool, yeah, that you can like keep going if you want to. It’s also like, kind of not right in the sense of like, my mom’s paying it, I can just say yeah let’s keep going, let’s keep charging it up, and no one else has to say anything.>>Reporter: Bell and Telus let the teens keep charging it up. What about Rogers?>>I got a text message from Rogers.>>Yeah, no problem. Rogers sends her mom the same text. But what is the point? Her daughter gets to accept the extra charges anyway. As for the Bell and Telus parents, not even notified. So we are notifying the commissioner.>>Minors were able to consent to these over ages, consent to turning the data back on.>>It’s a problem. I think — It doesn’t impart with our view with what the code requires. In letter or in spirit.>>It does not.>>It does not.>>Is that troubling to see that teens can do this?>>I certainly wouldn’t want my teens doing it and costing folks money that they shouldn’t have to spend.>>Charlsie: What’s the penalty for these cell phone companies that are still doing this?>>What we can do is we can talk to the provider and try and get them to change their practices. You work with them but we don’t have the authority to tell them how to do business.>>What’s the point of the code if they can do what they want then?>>Well, I don’t think they can do what they want because Anybody who has a problem with this should contact us. Should file a complaint with us.>>Oh my mom is calling me.>>Charlsie: This parent might soon be complaining about Telus.>>Claire confesses to going over. Mom had no idea.>>Charlsie: Mom has a message for Telus.>>So they need to change their policy or their process?>>Charlsie: Guess what parents, the big three won’t come on camera. They think their policies are just fine. Believe it or not, even though the CCTS disagrees nothing it can do about it.>>They are interpreting the code in a way that’s different from the way we are interpreting the code. There is nothing that prevents them from doing that.>>Charlsie: So what would it take to change the policy?>>Well the only body that has the authority to tell service providers what to do is the regulator.>>Charlsie: That would be the CRTC. We are tracking them down next.>>Get the real deal. It’s your Marketplace.>>To data.>>To data.>>I’m over $10 now.>>Oh yeah?>>Charlsie: The big three cell phone providers have let these teenagers rack up extra data charges without their parents’ permission.>>Usually I do choose to go over.>>That shouldn’t be allowed says the CCTS. It oversees the government rules.>>It’s a problem. I certainly wouldn’t want my teens doing it.>>But Bell let’s Rosemary’s son go way over the data limit and it costs a lot extra.>>$1,700. I mean that’s crazy. Who approved it? It wasn’t me.>>Charlsie: The CCTS says only the account holder, the parent can agree to extra data charges. Well the cell phone providers disagree. So what does the CRTC say? We’ve been trying repeatedly to get the telecom cops to come on camera but they refused. (♪♪) Hey Siri.>>Hey, Charlsie.>>Can you call the CRTC in Ottawa please.>>Charlsie: We are trying one more time to get some answers.>>Please stay on the line to leave a voice message.>>Charlsie: Some companies do seem to be violating the wireless code of conduct. We would like to know what you’re going to do about it and what action you are going to take to make sure they are following the rules. The CRTC won’t come on camera but it agrees, cell phone companies shouldn’t let kids on family share plans approve extra charges. So far though, hasn’t done a thing about it. (telephone dialling)>>Hello.>>Hello.>>How are you?>>Meanwhile Rosemary can’t afford to wait for the CRTC. She is warning her friends.>>Just be careful with your family share plans. Because you don’t have any control over the other phones.>>Okay.>>So you don’t want it happening to you. You are stuck with it. And even though I didn’t approve it so I think it’s gouging anyway myself. To charge that amount.>>Charlsie: So why does it cost so much more?>>The amount for overages is really ridiculous.>>Charlsie: To find out we go to the university of Waterloo.>>Hello professor. Can you stop.>>Professor Srinivasan Keshav is an expert in wireless technology. We show him Rosemary’s bill. There is $1700 in data overage charges there.>>That’s quite a bit. You consumed a lot of data. About 18 movies worth.>>Charlsie: Yeah, watching 18 movies on your cell phone can cost $1700. Works out to about $100 bucks a movie. That’s the premium price Rosemary pays when her son goes over the data limit. A huge mark up. How big of a price hike is that?>>That’s about 650% hike.>>650%?>>That’s right. One would call this punitive.>>Charlsie: That’s a lot.>>That’s a lot.>>Charlsie: Does it cost that much more for the companies to deliver the data when you do go over your plan?>>No, it doesn’t.>>Charlsie: So the cost is the same.>>The cost is the same to the provider. It’s just what they choose to charge for it.>>Charlsie: And get this, in the last few years those overage prices have been jacked way up from about $30 a movie to $100 a movie. And the question is why.>>Prices are going down for almost everything in the technology world. It’s not clear why these prices should be going up. Why is it that consumers aren’t seeing that reduction in their bills over time?>>That’s what everyone wants to know.>>I wish I could answer that. I’m not an economist. Cell phone companies and any other company are there they are not there for your benefit. They’re there to make a profit. Let’s get that straight.>>Charlsie: We got it, professor. Here’s a fun fact, total revenue for the big three in 2015, more than $20 billion. Another fun fact, we pay some of the highest prices in the world for data.>>There should be much more reasonable cell phone charges in Canada, maybe a little bit more competition. There’s always better pricing when there is competition.>>Charlsie: Rosemary’s found a way to end her bill shock. She left Bell for a cheaper provider who blocks data to her kids’ phones for free. Claire’s mom has another solution to end her daughter’s data damage.>>You know, this time next year you’ll be paying your own bills so maybe you will think about it.>>Okay, well, I mean you know next year I will still be in your house.>>You will. (♪♪)>>Charlsie: Want your money back? Find out how to complain to the CCTS at CBC.CA/marketplace.

Comments (33)

  1. This is a case for a pay as you go account.

  2. Those are some spoiled teens

  3. They are your typical 'AHOLE' Corrupt, GREEDY Corporations!!

  4. i only pay $25 for unlimited talk,text and data every month and i get unlimited calling and data roaming in canada and mexico. canada cell phone companies rip of their customers. GLAD I DON'T LIVE IN CANADA

  5. Where is the consumer protection. You would think the government would protect Canadians from big multinational companies. We need more competition in the cell phone market.

  6. 18 movies = 1700$? that costs them a few pennies…

  7. Call a Congressman and get a bill signed!

  8. I pay $40 a month with 44mbps 7.5 download unlimited. I used to have 75 mbps and I don't notice the difference maybe the reason I don't is the difference in nano seconds and I'm satisfied with $40 a month unlimited download and gigabytes (GB).

  9. Why people slamming these kids as "brats?" They're just ignorant about what clicking YES costs. Hell, the parents barely understand it.
    Oh, and the girls were doing it as part of Charlsie's experiment!

  10. My main question is… Why are these families not on unlimited data plans…?

  11. She says aboot.

  12. If only the American providers went up to Canada, AT&T is probably the best one for what you pay

  13. You can get free data for less than 20 $ in Denmark

  14. Does the pre-paid data / simcard not exist in Canada?… Prepaid sim card is the safest choice for teenager.

  15. just let the son pay its his fault

  16. By law minors can not enter into a contract and therefore a minor can not click accept and it be enforceable. only option is small claims court. All a parent should do is to give them notice that a minor can not enter into contract by and and any accepting of these overages by this number will not be accepted by the actual contract owner.

  17. Get Unlimited family plan, problem solved

    In the US, we don’t get overcharges, that makes no sense

  18. I got my daughter a phone plan from Bell the Bill was supposed to be $35 a month & the plan was supposed to have no data, & i turned the data off on the phone settings. The last 2 months her bill has had $50 each bill for data. went back to the store where I purchased it from and they told me that because she wasn't connected to wifi when she was playing on her phone it just uses data, but how i asked her plan has no data & it is turned off on her phone, they proceeded to tell me if you turn the data off on the phone then it actually allows data because when it is on is lets you select all your data options & set limits but if you turn it off it will default to the basic data rates. WTF are you talking about I asked the guy the plan is supposed to have no data I was even paying for a data blocker to avoid this. My daughter know to stay on wifi & she is limited to her screen time so she's not on it all the time

  19. I have 7 G of data I do get a 100 g if I go over but every 10 dollars. I do get a text when I reach 95%

    But most of the time I am on wifi

  20. CCTS and CRTC are both a Complete Waste Canadian Tax Payers Time and Money. They are all in it with these Big Tele Com Co0mpanies..

  21. Yeah right, let's all contact a commissioner who has no authority and ask them to make a useless call to Bell. Today's views, rules are meant to be broken. For me I pay $55. a month for unlimited talk, text & data & international calls and my phone is streaming almost 24/7

  22. Dont you have prepaid phone in Canada like the United states. The Walmart plan in the United states only costs $55 a month for unlimited data, text, and minutes. And it's high speed LTE+

  23. 650% price increase should be illegal Canada pays the most for data and its time to cut the crap. Thank god unlimited is finally coming out

  24. my son always had either a limited data own account or later a limitless one,which is cheap now

  25. This happened to me 10 years ago from roaming charges…. I got my first phone drove through the usa and got 1300$ in roaming charges

  26. I agree, The Primary Account Holder should be the one that gets The Message Only.

  27. As an adult, I've been charged $1200 for barely using 3 gigs. It happens easier than you think.

  28. Canada is ripped off for their cell phone charges unlike anywhere in the world. Time for our government to step up and stop allowing for Canadians to be abused for the sake of fawning to corporations. As usual.

  29. I can't stop wondering if that bowling alley had free WiFi.

  30. Many cell phone companies rip you off in general. I only pay $27 a month and I have plenty of data, and everything else, I have a very nice smartphone. I do everything on my phone, University studies, work, entertainment, etc. That's right, $27 a month. Republic Wireless.

  31. The CRTC Is most likely receiving bribes from those companies. It wouldn't surprise me whatsoever.

  32. Wherever you have politicians and government increasing taxes a lot everyone is going to pay a lot more money for products. Companies always pass their tax expenses on to their customers. One of the reasons why President Donald Trump created such a powerful economy is because he reduced taxes. That's one of about six of his major accomplishments. And this specific situation those companies are just predators playing after children to get money, yet Canada in general is expensive for just about everything.

  33. Y’all have free healthcare, we have free data

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