5 On Your Side

Sanford woman billed for cell-phone texts never sent

Posted October 30, 2008 5:20 p.m. EDT
Updated October 30, 2008 6:16 p.m. EDT

— Text messaging can add up, but a Lee County woman said she was billed for thousands of text messages that she said were never sent.

Rebecca Johnson, of Sanford, also found that plenty of other people were being billed for text messages to the same number.

When Johnson received the nearly 100-page bill for the cell phone her nephew uses, she said it showed 3,000 text messages, costing $747.

“We were shocked. We were just really shocked,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the bill showed pages of texts to the same Charlotte number.

“We just thought our nephew met someone in Charlotte and he was texting,” she said.

After a closer look, Johnson realized there were multiple texts in the same minute.

“According to the dates and the times on these text messages, I mean he would have to be texting at least 20 hours a day. I mean seven days a week for the past 30 days,” she said.

It was Johnson's first bill as a T-Mobile customer. She was with Suncom until the companies recently merged, so she suspected the texting problem had something to do with that.

Johnson went to a T-Mobile store and called the company repeatedly, but she got nowhere. She even went up the chain to a supervisor.

“She didn't have anyone above her, and her decision was final, and she would not correct my bill and we were responsible for it,” Johnson said.

After doing research online, Johnson found lots of other people from North and South Carolina – even Puerto Rico – with outrageous bills for texts to the same number.

“A lot more people are having this problem than me,” she said.

When 5 on Your Side called T-Mobile, a customer service executive immediately cleared the account. Johnson said an executive told her the charges did, in fact, involve a problem with the merger process.

A T-Mobile spokeswoman refused to acknowledge the text problem is a bigger issue involving more than just Johnson. She also would not say whether they are working to fix the issue for everyone.

She advised people who have a similar issue to call the company's "customer care" line, even though that obviously did not help Johnson.