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Since Koonin was no longer using his iPad, he sold it on eBay to a man in Escondido, Calif., for $ 200. He did not tell his employer or Telus that he was selling the device. Moreover, he did not remove the SIM card — a small circuit board placed in a mobile device to identify the owner as a subscriber and give them access to their carrier’s network.
Paul Saltz, vice-president of sales and marketing at Salbro, thinks that even a reduced $ 10,000 data roaming charge is unfair. He wants to know why Salbro did not learn of the astounding amount of data roaming charges until the bill arrived a week later.
Telus should have an alert system about anything out of the ordinary, as you’d find with credit card issuers, Saltz said. “I feel we should pay only for one day, since we should have been notified immediately of the issue.”
Emily Hamer, senior communications manager at Telus, emphasized the importance of removing the SIM card and contacting your carrier to de-activate your account before selling a device.
In fact, Telus did send a series of text messages to warn about the high data use. Here’s the problem: The text messages went to the device, not to Koonin or his employer in Canada who paid the bills.
This is a cautionary story. As Saltz’s experience shows, companies can’t rely on text messages from their mobile suppliers or automatic cutoffs of data roaming when the charges reach a certain amount.
The CRTC wireless code, which took force in 2012, capped data roaming charges at $ 50 in a single billing cycle unless a customer gave consent to additional charges. “With consumer accounts, we cut off data starting at $ 50 and require customers to text or call us to continue using data,” Hamer said.
The CRTC wireless code does not apply to business accounts, however. As Hamer points out, it’s not unusual to see a spike in data use when an employee takes a business trip outside Canada or works while on vacation.
Telus used bill inserts to inform business clients about the new system. It also reached out to administrators to set up the alerts and determine which email addresses would receive them.
“It appears this particular business has not enabled that function,” she said about Salbro.
“We are always looking at ways to improve how we serve customers, including usage notifications. We will review this specific issue to see if there is anything we can learn from it that would help us make our approach even more customer-friendly.”
In his view, this was clearly an incident of theft. But he’s still left holding the bag, having to pay $ 10,000 for his mistake. His employer has not volunteered to share the cost.
Employers can also look into low-cost cellular data plans for iPad users. AlwaysOnline Wireless offers a global roaming network in 45 countries, with short-term wireless plans in increments as short as one hour.
A $ 25,000 phone bill is a nightmare for the company that receives it and the hapless employee who may be stuck paying for a mistake.