We’ve all heard horror stories of Canadians getting massive wireless phone bills because they used a service they thought was covered by their plan, but their provider disagrees. Fear of this sort of problem makes some people shut off their phones whenever they travel, particularly in foreign countries or even just close enough to the U.S. border to get picked up by a U.S. tower. I think I have a partial solution to this problem.
No doubt there are situations where a wireless phone user knowingly runs up a multi-thousand dollar bill because he or she is doing something just that important. But most of the time, people running up huge bills would stop whatever they were doing if they knew the costs were so high.
What if your phone were to pop up with a message on the screen saying “you have now incurred $50 in extra charges so far this month” and demanded that you type in some password to continue? If you continued to use extra services, you’d get messages at $100, $150, and so on. High rollers might prefer a threshold higher than $50, and other people might prefer something smaller, but $50 seems like a reasonable default value. Allowing users to change their personal threshold would be useful.
Does something like this already exist? Do wireless network providers make it possible to access billing data in real time so that this function could be performed by an app?
This isn’t a perfect solution in the battle between wireless phone users and the providers who try to extract as much money as possible, but it would be helpful for users in Canada’s not very competitive wireless phone market.