17y-o racks up $2605 mobile bill in 39 days
By DAVID BANCROFT
JOE was half way out of his driveway when he opened the bill that stopped him in his tracks.
His 17-year-old son had been on a mobile phone plan for only a month, but had already racked up a bill of $1246.66.
"F... me," he thought.
He immediately approached his son who surrendered the phone without question.
That was eight days into the second billing period and he had already racked up hundreds of dollars in fees and charges.
With early exit fees his second bill amounted to $1358.78.
In 39 days the South Grafton teenager had generated $2605.44 in charges.
Now Joe (not his real name) wants to warn other parents and young adults of the risk of excessive mobile phone use.
Joe said his son had been on pre-paid plans previously, but wasn't content ? they needed topping up too regularly.
So he relented and agreed to put the phone in his name, trusting his son would not go over the $300 limit allowed under the $50 plan.
"I trusted him to be responsible with it," he said.
He said the Optus representative had explained fully that there would be additional charges if he went beyond the amount allowed under the plan, but his son had received no warning he had exceeded the amount.
"It doesn't let you know," he said.
"It just keeps going.
"There needs to be some way of letting people know they are going over the amount."
Joe said he and his wife were not wealthy, and although they had paid their bill, would have to curtail their spending for a while.
And their son, who is now 18 with a part-time job, would be paying off the bill at $50 a week for the next 52 weeks.
"If mobile phones are used correctly they are fine," he said.
"But in the hands of adolescents they can be very expensive.
"I don't really blame him ? if I hadn't given my consent to him having this phone it wouldn't have happened.
"Kids shouldn't be on a plan, they should only have the pre-paid. And there should be some mechanism to stop them if they go over the limit.
"He's normally a sensible kid, but like all kids he has his moments. I think he has learnt his lesson ... well at least I hope so."
The first bill contained 41 pages, 18 of them listing SMS messages worth $204.79.
The second bill, for eight days, listed 13 pages of SMS messages totalling $41.81.
There were no calls to 1900 numbers.