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Could FCC Have Saved Woman From $200,000 Phone Bill?

"I was like my life is over!"

What would you do if your one month cellphone bill showed the number $200,000 -- the cost of a house in some areas of the country? Yell? Cry? Shake?

One Florida woman had these reactions and more when she recently opened her cellphone statement and saw $201,005.44. WSVN-TV reports that Celina Aarons, whose cellphone bill is usually $175 per month, "freaked out" when she got the 43 page statement:

"Yes to 201,000 dollars, over 201,000 dollars. I asked three, four times and I'm like oh my God are you serious and she's like yes."

[...]

"I was freaking out. I was shaking, crying, I couldn't even talk that much on the phone. I was like my life is over!"

This news comes on the heels of a voluntary agreement between the Federal Communications Commission and cellphone service providers to warn subscribers before they get into a "bill shock" situation. Cellphone providers will send free alerts to users when they are getting close to they their monthly limits for calling minutes, text messages and data use. The carriers adopted these "voluntary" guidelines after the FCC threatened regulation that would curb these surprises.

CTIA — The Wireless Association, a trade group representing the major cellphone companies, said they're also promising to warn subscribers that they're paying roaming fees if they travel abroad.

The warnings will arrive as text messages, and subscribers won't need to sign up for them — they'll arrive automatically. CTIA said its member will have warnings in place on at least half their plans in a year and all of them in two years.

Watch the Associated Press report:

Roaming charges are what got Aarons into trouble. Her brother, Shamir who is deaf and can't talk, is on Aarons' cellphone plan and on a trip to Canada did not turn off his the roaming on his cellphone.

WSVN continues:

"So apparently he used it for Internet and I don't know how the charges got so high or whatever."

Since Shamir is on Celina's phone plan, the $201,000 bill is her responsibility. But she says paying that's impossible.

[...] "Well it's never going to get paid cause therefore, I cant pay that. That's like paying a nice house right now based on what houses are going for."

Aarons believes the cellphone company, T-mobile, should have contacted her when her bill began to skyrocket.

WSVN reports that T-mobile did text Shamir he was being billed $10 per megabyte and sent four additional texts to him with this information. After being contacted by WSVN and told Aarons' story, T-mobile graciously lowered the cellphone bill from its more than $200,000 total to $2,500 with a six month timeframe to make the payment.

Shamir signed "thank you."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

[H/T PC World]

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