By: Revanche

Phone Bill Travesty

October 17, 2011

I’m /headdesking/ so hard right now. I’ve made a huge mistake.

Back in June, we combined cell phone plans and I took over the financial responsibility for all four phones.  Our family plan share 1000 minutes and unlimited text messages. It’s been a few months, and between having unlimited mobile to mobile minutes, and not using a ton of daytime minutes, we were fine on that plan.  Since 250 daytime minutes isn’t much per person, I normally use Google Voice on my computer during the week for domestic calls to keep my minute use down as well, so that helps.

I let myself get complacent on this last billing cycle and didn’t check in, not even once, on it. And I’m paying dearly for that inattention.

PiC and I went way over our minute allotment.  Shockingly over. I can’t even believe how much.  On top of that, my mom’s phone listed five charges for Premium Services; those junk charges you get hit with because of  any number of spammy services that sink their hooks into you the second you respond to their junk texts or however they do it.  Well, they got my mom.  Five of them, over two days, at $9.99 per.

For my part, I think my transgressions were the worst during two weeks out of the billing cycle,when I was sick at home, working most of the time.  I was taking regular and conference calls on my cell phone instead for no good reason.  !!!!

PiC went double on his allotment as well but I don’t even have the patience to see why. I just told him about the bill and left it at that.

*For the record: my parents were at or under their minute allotment of 250 mins/each.  Only PiC and I went over ours.  And considering we can log in online or check our minute usage via our phones or online???  UGH. Inexcusable carelessness.*

T-Mobile’s complying with my request to remove the Premium Charges and block any incoming charge texts for a month for free via a free trial of the Family Allowance service, but that’s going to take a couple months to remove $50.  The remaining $400 is on me because I noticed too late to change the billing plan to a higher rate/minutes package – you have to do that during the billing cycle.

I can’t even tell you how hard I’m kicking myself.  I haven’t seen a bill this big since the days of idiot brother yore, before I removed all long distance capability and stopped paying any cell phone bills for him back home.

This drives me crazy, not just because of the enormity of the bill itself. It’s also because of the way we’re currently handling our finances.

I’ve been dancing on a tightrope where PiC and I share but don’t share.  We split but don’t split expenses.  We’ve been discussing ways and means of combining but since I won’t do that until we get married, I live in financial purgatory where I’m only partly in control of some things, totally of others, and not at all in still others.  It’s driving me a little crazy and making me careless.  Careless enough for my hands to have slipped off the reins when they shouldn’t have.

There’s a vague sense that I knew this was coming. Not this specific thing but that some sort of financial issue was looming because of our laissez faire compromise style of management.  Because I wasn’t controlling every last detail myself.  And because of that vague sense that something, somewhere, was going to go wrong sometime, I’ve been trying to force all aspects of my life into financial order, still without imposing myself on everything. Like a bit of a manic fool, I’ve been paranoically looking over all the things I do control and trying to not to miss anything but worrying about all the things I can’t fix.  Just like I used to do in the bad old days when I was paying the bills for my family but not actually in charge of them.  Awful, in other words.

There’s an actual solution for this, you know.  We could actually combine finances.  Or set up a real system. This idiot’s excuse for a process was bound to crack, or I was. It was just a matter of time and a fool’s bet which went first.  

10 Responses to “Phone Bill Travesty”

  1. We had an issue like this w/ regular phone service. It is almost impossible to keep up with changes that are only communicated via fine print.

    Maybe you should get your parents a pay-as-you-go plan.

  2. I have had the same problem. It’s very aggravating when you see the bill that high. It was such a problem that I now check constantly maybe even obsess over a little bit.

  3. mOOm says:

    We combined our finances as soon as we lived together. I took control of all financial stuff. That makes life easier. But I don’t think it would solve your phonebill problem you had this month. We tend to now and then go over on our internet bill (yes, limited downloads here…).

  4. Karen says:

    ~Expense some of the calls your company.
    ~Just elope already 🙂

    One or 2 months a long time ago, I went over my minutes. Since then I have kept my 1000 anytime minutes even though I probably don’t use 250.

  5. *patpatpat*
    As my DH says (because I often freak out over similar issues), it’s only money and you make a nice amount of money. What’s important is people.

    $400 is a big mistake, but a mistake you can well withstand. It’s ok, and it could have been worse.

    word verification: fun dh (or fund h, whatever)

  6. I know this doesn’t help you right now, but apparently this happens to a LOT of people. I read somewhere just today (can’t remember where now, though…) that “soon” all the major carriers will notify you when you are approaching your limit for minutes/texts/data and again when you reach it. By “soon”, I think it was going to happen in like 2013 or 2014. I don’t recall reading how they were going to notify you either, but I guess something is better than nothing.

  7. Aw, no need to get all meshugganah. Live and learn. And I’m almost glad this happened to you – I was afraid you weren’t actually human. Now I believe you are!

    Like Insomniac Lab Rat said, there have been some changes put forward in agency regulations that will give folks more notice about this. I heard about it on All Things Considered on NPR tonight.

  8. Shelley says:

    There is a school of thought that ‘control is only an illusion’. People do make mistakes occasionally no matter how hard they try not to, so I think you should cut yourself some slack. $400 is a big ouch, but I’m sure you’ll use this to learn how to do things a bit differently and perhaps better than now.

    I have never been comfortable combining my finances with anyone else. With the first two husbands, the money would have been gone faster than I could use it to pay the bills, spent on toys and gamblings and who knows what. I figured out our monthly bills and demanded half of our living expenses. Bill has an old business debt that he mismanaged years ago which precludes our mixing our accounts, but we share our expenses in a different way. When I was working I made far more money than he did and I pretty much paid for everything and didn’t give it a thought. Then, when I wanted to retire and he had a pension, he agreed to support me until I could draw mine.

    You’ve taught me a new word: headdesking! As my dad would have said, don’t damage the desk while you’re doing it! 🙂

  9. Serendipity says:

    *hugs* and then more *hugs*. It’s hard to not feel bad for making mistakes, especially ones you feel that you should have known better and they end up costing you some money. I completely understand and it hurts. And it’s hard to not let someone else in financially. You want control of everything and it’s really hard. I haven’t been able to combine incomes because of this.

  10. One of the very reasons I’ve never succumbed to a cell phone. What a rip!

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