$23,000 in roaming charges ‘insane,’ says Edmonton woman

Memories of her Mexican vacation turned sour just two days after Sarah Farrell returned home to Edmonton.

Her phone beeped with a text from Rogers, warning that her roaming charges were “excessively high.”

Farrell told Go Public she thought she might be facing a bill for $500.

“I had no idea I was going to get a $23,000 cell phone bill,” she said. “Which is just insane.

“It just blew my mind that they would let my cell phone bill get that high,” Farrell said. “My heart rate was just pounding and I felt almost sick to my stomach, because I was, like ‘that’s half a year’s salary.’”

Farrell turned her iPhone to airplane mode as soon as she left Edmonton, though during a stopover in Houston she turned airplane mode off so she could send a text to her mother.

She then got one text from Rogers inviting her to check out their USA data plans, but heard nothing from the company while she was in Mexico, she said.

She used the phone for about an hour every day in her hotel room to post pictures on Facebook and to send texts thinking her phone was using the hotel’s free WiFi.

The next time she heard from Rogers was back in Edmonton 15 days later, when received the text telling her to call them, she said.

Rogers immediately offered to sign her up for a data plan that reduced the bill from $23,000 to $2,200, plus $225 to enrol.

Farrell’s experience with Rogers is almost identical to what happened to Matt Buie with Fido, a Rogers subsidiary.

In a March 2013 Go Public story, Buie described getting a $22,000 roaming charge after his son streamed videos in Mexico. In that case Fido also offered to reduce the bill to $2,200.

Buie’s story prompted her to fight for a better deal. But she’s suspicious as to why the cases are so similar, Farrell said.

“Maybe it is just a generic number, I don’t really know. There is no paperwork showing me the charges were that high. Maybe it was only $2,500.”

Rogers now says its customer service agent gave Farrell incorrect information when she first called.

Rogers spokeswoman Jennifer Kett said the correct amount was closer to $10,000, and that the company has taken steps to make sure customers get the correct information.

Rogers recently lowered its pay-per-use rate for Mexico, from $30 per megabyte of data to $15.

Raj Doshi, Rogers’s Senior Vice President for Products, insists Farrell and its other customers would never see a bill for over $20,000.