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DSS's cell phone bill was over $900 - Page 3

post #41 of 78
He's old enough to know why you aren't going on vacation this year. In fact, you shouldn't waste the opportunity for that learning experience: You adults made a careless mistake, providing a cell phone for a teenager and not thinking to check what the impact would be, of him using it outside the US. Now you're handling the problem responsibly, giving up luxuries to cover your debt. You've learned a lesson and he can, too.

But it's not quite fair to be upset with him about it. Again, you adults didn't worry about it until after the fact. You can't expect more from a kid.

But don't fail to call Verizon and see if they'll work with you! We had a similar problem with my husband's then-teenage son, who visited San Diego and wound up with very expensive calls from Mexico on his cell. He swears he didn't go to Mexico and that the calls just got routed through Mexico because he was so close to the border. But at that point, you didn't need a passport to enter Mexico and it was easy to just wander across the border, eat, have a few drinks and cross back. So we suspect he did go to Mexico. However, based on his stringent insistence, we told AT&T (Cingular) there had to be a mistake because he hadn't been in Mexico. They removed ALL the extra fees. I'm not advocating lying to Verizon about your SS being in Mexico. But before you pay the full $900, you might call them and explain it was a minor child using the phone and he did not have your permission to make calls with it while outside the country. They may at least reduce the fees. It's worth a try.
post #42 of 78
Jeannine, depending upon how close he actually was to the border, it's possible your son was telling the truth. Before I switched to Verizon, I had to call ATT several times and make them take charges off my bill for calls made on the US side of the border (I was careful not to use the phone here, so I knew I was in the US). On the other hand, it's possible for me to occasionally use my phone upstairs in my house here in Mexico on US towers. I often get "Welcome to Mexico" texts when I walk downstairs . I'm about 5 miles on the Mexico side of the border - I'd guess it probably happens in San Diego at least that far north.
post #43 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by TanyaS View Post
If the adults did not think about it in advance, then the child cannot be held responsible. He should be made aware of the bill and how to avoid this in the future.
Totally agreed.
post #44 of 78
Whether he should or shouldn't have known about the charges in another country depends on too many variables. We have Everything plans with Sprint, so we have unlimited texting, internet,...well...everything. If we add a line, it's $20/month. Since coverage is so broad, my kids (were they old enough for phones) would have no reason to think about roaming charges even if they paid the phone bill to us every month. If your DSS also doesn't travel internationally often, then I'm not sure it's entirely reasonable to think he knew in advance.

With that said, I certainly wouldn't *not* tell him now. You all messed up, and he needs to know that. I just don't think it's fair to place your anger/frustration at cancelling vacation on him because none of you thought about the phone use beforehand.
post #45 of 78
While I don't think he she be "blamed" or made to take financial responcibility I think a couple things should happen. I think you need to find out if he got a text and ignored it I think he needs to know that the bill was high. If you tell him the amount that is up to you. That's how we all learn from experiences. We find out what didn't work.

FWIW my 16 yo is not well travelled and often pretty naive. I asked her about it and she knew it was more expensive. Now of course she also thought it was more expensive to call CO from her grandparents in AK too
post #46 of 78
I am of the mind set that if someone isn't told something then you can't assume they know it, no matter how old.

I would tell him about the bill and explain that the adults messed up by not telling him it costs more to use his phone from another country. I agree that it's not fair to place everything on his shoulders when he wasn't informed about what might happen, especially if none of the adults involved didn't even think to tell him about it. I would also talk to him about how many cell phone companies tend to be vague about charges like that and it's best for him to assume there will be higher or extra charges for anything other than phone calls unless it is specifically stated in the contract.
post #47 of 78
Haven't read most of the responses, but my personal opinion is that whether or not he was aware that rates were different in Mexico, he should be told about the bill, and be responsible for extra chores (or whatever you come up with) to help cover some of it. Even if he wasn't aware of the difference in fees, he's getting quite close to being an adult (in age at least), and when you're an adult, it doesn't really matter if you knew about something like extra fees...you're still responsible for them. So I think it's a good idea to start preparing him now. You don't have to make him feel bad, but you can help him accept responsiblity even if it was completely unintentional.
post #48 of 78
My jaws literally dropped when I saw the title of this thread! I really hope my dd1' will not hit the phone bill that high when she reaches her teen years!

You and your dh should talk to him about this bill and there has to be a way to reduce the phone usage. I don't have any advices to give but I'm still in shock.
post #49 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by eclipse View Post
it's possible for me to occasionally use my phone upstairs in my house here in Mexico on US towers. I often get "Welcome to Mexico" texts when I walk downstairs .
That's really funny! And also a relief. I mean, it was years ago, but it's nice to think he wasn't lying. We didn't treat him as though he was, we just suspected it.
post #50 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by VroomieMama View Post

You and your dh should talk to him about this bill and there has to be a way to reduce the phone usage.
Why? You don't know what the charges were per minute? My mother used a hotel phone a couple of years ago, knowing that they now price high to discourage use, but her cell battery was dead. When she went to check out, they charged $10/minute, so her 6-minute call was $60. She refused to pay that and ended up paying only $1/minute. I don't think it's fair to go assuming the OP's ss did something malicious, or even reckless.
post #51 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by caedmyn View Post
he should be... responsible for extra chores (or whatever you come up with) to help cover some of it.
Absoutely! Again, you don't have to be angry with him - since it was a mistake on everyone's part. But certainly, he should be given a sense of the work that goes into earning the money, in addition to learning that if you're careless with your cell phone bill it may cost you a fun vacation.

Bottom line: You can't teach teenagers to be responsible for themselves in a few years, if you shelter them from the consequences of their own actions, for fear of upsetting them. And letting them learn from mistakes doesn't have to involve anger and "punishment".
post #52 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by NiteNicole View Post
I just think it's weird that everyone wants to punish the kid for not knowing, but no one questions the adults who didn't seem to think about it either...till they got the bill. If grown ups can space on that one, why not a kid?
I don't think anyone wants to see him punished. I think the general consensus is that he needs to be informed of what happened because this is a huge learning lesson for someone about to be an adult. In a couple years, he won't have the safety of parents who also goofed ignorantly. He will have to pay the bill no matter what he did or didn't know. If he has the knowledge ahead of time to double check contracts for international use, this shouldn't happen again.

He does need to understand what happened. Not to feel guilty, not to be punished... but because if he doesn't understand then he won't learn and it might happen again. I think the parents would be doing a huge disservice to him to allow that to happen again. Whether they decide he needs to pick up some extra chores or HE decides he wants to help out a bit because he feels bad for the mistake is a separate issue from his knowing about the situation at all.
post #53 of 78
Thread Starter 
Updated in OP.
post #54 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by caedmyn View Post
Even if he wasn't aware of the difference in fees, he's getting quite close to being an adult (in age at least), and when you're an adult, it doesn't really matter if you knew about something like extra fees...you're still responsible for them. .
Yep.

You still have to pay, even though you didn't know. He should help pay, even if its just $100 or something. It isn't unfair, it is how the world works. 16 is not a child.

And if there was a text sent by Verizon, he needs to pay more!
post #55 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinksprklybarefoot View Post
I agree with this exactly. I just can't picture a 16 yo having any clue that cell rates are different in a foreign country.
My 16 and 13 year olds are very well aware indeed that cell rates are different in foreign countries. Of course, they pay their own cell phone bills, so they actually care about it.
post #56 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by emelsea View Post
I also made a bad judgement call because I assumed that he would know not to use the phone in a foreign country. His mom and dad both travel internationally and he knows that he should not call them on their cell phones when they are out of the country. And last year when he was on vacation in the Bahamas with his mom, she took his cell phone away from him (he was still on her plan at that time) and told him he couldn't use it because it would cost more money. I know this because he complained about it at the time.

My DH and I did not call him or text him in Mexico. First, because that is special time for him and his mom and we don't usually talk with him when they are on vacation. Also, because we didn't think the phone would work. And he did not call or text us, because if he did, we would have told him to STOP using the phone immediately.

Finally, out of $900 in fees, $11.99 was voice charges and the rest were text messages/roaming. Every text message sent and rec'd cost $.50, and he sent and rec'd almost 2000 (according to Verizon, I didn't count all of them).
To me, the above information changes everything! He knew better than to call his parents when they travel internationally because he knew the rates would change. He remembered complaining when his mom took away his phone the last time HE traveled internationally in order to avoid extra charges. And he knew better than to contact you. And he sent 2000 texts (!!!!!). All of that means he knew enough to know better. He may not have known it was $900 worth of extra, but he knew it was extra and he knew all his parents had a history of working to avoid that extra. And he did it anyway.

Regardless of whether or not you could/should have reminded him of all this (and maybe you should have), he clearly had experience with how the phone situation worked.

Does that mean he should be punished? I don't see why the word "punish" is even part of the conversation. You have acknowledged your own part in the situation - you aren't heaping all of it on him. He needs to acknowledge his responsibility and the natural consequences of his own actions, and he should take an active part in remedying said consequences along with you. That's part of learning to be a successful adult. It's not about shaming/guilting/punishing/(insert other non-PC term here) him - it's about acknowledging the impact that his actions have on the people around him.
post #57 of 78
That's really crappy that they wouldn't take off the fees. 9 years ago i got slammed with a huge bill from them for the home phone because I was using a calling card and I didnt know there was a $7 connection charge whenever I called internationally. thankfully they took off all the connection fees, I had no idea. sometimes I would call my friend just to leave a voice mail for crying out loud.
post #58 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinksprklybarefoot View Post
How many years ago was that? When I had my first cell phone at 18, I knew these things, too, but roaming charges were more common. At this point in time, most people are on pretty big networks and pay no roaming/long distance. Ten years ago? Different story.

Kids today also use their phones more during daily life - it is more integrated. When I was that young, having a cell phone was a big deal, each minute was expensive and we were very conscious of making quick calls. Nowadays, the culture is different. The concept of using your phone too much is probably a little foreign.

Also, I paid the bill, so I knew all of the charges involved. If my parents had been paying the bill and did not take the time to explain to me how everything worked, I would not have had a clue.

Exactly my thoughts.
post #59 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by dancindoula View Post
To me, the above information changes everything! He knew better than to call his parents when they travel internationally because he knew the rates would change. He remembered complaining when his mom took away his phone the last time HE traveled internationally in order to avoid extra charges. And he knew better than to contact you. And he sent 2000 texts (!!!!!). All of that means he knew enough to know better. He may not have known it was $900 worth of extra, but he knew it was extra and he knew all his parents had a history of working to avoid that extra. And he did it anyway.

Regardless of whether or not you could/should have reminded him of all this (and maybe you should have), he clearly had experience with how the phone situation worked.

Does that mean he should be punished? I don't see why the word "punish" is even part of the conversation. You have acknowledged your own part in the situation - you aren't heaping all of it on him. He needs to acknowledge his responsibility and the natural consequences of his own actions, and he should take an active part in remedying said consequences along with you. That's part of learning to be a successful adult. It's not about shaming/guilting/punishing/(insert other non-PC term here) him - it's about acknowledging the impact that his actions have on the people around him.
ITA.

and neither do i see a reason why the phone company should take off the charges when its a family that travels internationally regularly AND he sent 2000 texts. poor guy. wonder if he was bored.
post #60 of 78
If he knew there would be crazy fees, as per the OP update, he should be made to pay the bill.

If he didn't know, yes I would share the information, but more in a 'whoa this is a surprise, I should have told you, we need to never let this happen again' kind of way.
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