11-Year-Old Racks Up $22,000 Cellphone Bill on Family Vacation

Jeanne Sager Say What!?

kid on cellphoneAnother day, another kid running up an outrageous cellphone bill. This time, it's an 11-year-old who is costing dear old dad some $22,000! And parents, this one could happen to you ... even if you don't have a texter at home.

Ah, gotcha, didn't I? We've heard more than our fair share of stories about teens racking up mega bills by texting, but Matt Buie's tween wasn't sending messages to anyone. He was using data. And to make matters worse, he was using that data out of the country.

Hello roaming charges!

Buie, who is Canadian, was on vacation with his family in Mexico when his son suffered a serious sunburn. The 11-year-old was given permission to hang out in their hotel room and play games. Unfortunately, the kid switched Dad's phone off of "airplane mode" and went on the web while he was at it, spending hours on YouTube.

Dad admits he was in the wrong here for not keeping better track of his kid, although he's still fighting with his carrier over price gouging.

Regardless of who was wrong here, it caught me off-guard. Part of the reason I love my cellphone so much is precisely because the data plan gives me a way to amuse my kid when necessary (vacations especially). And I know for a fact that my 7-year-old would not know a darn thing about roaming ... even though I'm a stickler about her handing over the phone any time a warning pops up on there.

I'll admit it: I depend on the phone to feed us warnings. And I depend on our family's code of honor for her to let me know about said warnings.

Heck, we took our daughter out of the country (to Canada) last summer. I know I should have been pro-active and read up on our carrier's rules before I left the country, but I was so busy with work and trying to prep our family vacation that I admit it just slipped my mind. So I ended up depending on the phone to tell me when I could access my data and when I couldn't.

Imperfect, I know. I got lucky I didn't end up in the same situation as Matt Buie. But you better believe I'm never putting myself in that situation again.

Do you track roaming charges when your kids are using your phone?


Image via davity dave/Flickr

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