My Eleven Year Old Charged $192 to My Cell Phone

Remember when Jane turned eleven and got a cell phone? My brother called me and was like, “you should get her an unlimited text plan because our girls ran up huge texting bills, and Mom loves me best.” (that is EXACTLY what he said).

In keeping with my general rule of never listening to my brother, I bought Jane the cell phone with no additional text plan. I figured it would run me a few dollars a month when she texted her friends. The first cell phone bill included $123 in texting. That is not a typo.

Well, thank goodness for AT&T, I called and explained the situation. They assured me that my brother was still a dummy and that Mom still loves me best, and then they switched me to an unlimited text plan and backdated it. I recovered from my shock, both at the cost of texting, and at the speed of Jane’s fingers, and went on my merry way.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday I opened up the cell phone bill and there were $192 in extra fees that made NO SENSE to me whatsoever.

After a 45 minute phone call to AT&T we were able to unwind the charges, and figure out the source of the charges. Twilight. Twilight apps, games and something called the “News Prediction Game” came together $9.99 at a time to reach almost two hundred dollars.

For the record, I did not punish Jane. I did not so much as take her phone away for a day. I did teach her a little bit about how companies try to trick you into entering your phone number on their sites. I’m pretty sure she’ll be savvier next time, but I know a good vampire app is hard for a tween to resist.

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Comments 6

  1. I had the same issue with AT&T for two months in a row….although it was me – the 37 year old mother of 3 – that was texting too much and not my 6 yo. That would be easier to blame her though. :)
    -jen
    @jenharris09

  2. Since I can’t afford such teachable moments, I simply blocked Sylvia’s phone from being able to buy such things! (And we have the unlimited text plan.)

    1. Post
      Author

      Oh please, who CAN afford that? The charges were reversed, but it did eat up 45 minutes of my day.

      I did do the “no data plan” thingie on her line. It’s a thingie, that’s what they call it.

  3. I remember racking up over $200 in 1-900 number calls to a game cheat line when I was a bit younger than Jane. If they had texting and apps when I was that age forget about it!

    Maybe she could earn back some of the money somehow-seems like a very teachable personal finance moment to me. For the record I can’t recall my parents doing anything. I’ll have to call my mom and ask.

  4. My son did something similar so we increased the number of text messages included in the plan. We received another expensive phone bill. I now have unlimited texts and a very high number of minutes but I can sleep at night. My kids rarely make phone calls. They communicate by test with everyone including me.

  5. I have AT&T also and they have a thing you can put on your phone that restricts the user from being able to download/purchase apps, ringtones, etc. So no unauthorized charges can be put on the phone. Purchase restriction is what it’s called I think. The parent gets an authorization code and a code has to be input on the purchase to authorize it.

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