Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Phone Bill

I added my son to my phone service early last year. The agreement was that I would buy him the phone and put him on my plan and he would pay the monthly bill of $79. This went as it should for a while. He responsibly put a $20 bill in an envelope every week for that first month.

The second month's bill came, however, and when I opened it, I went into a slow burn when I saw the total of $162, twice what it should have been.

" Hey, um, I think you need to put more cash in for your phone bill."I informed him, keeping my voice at an even pitch.

"Can't" he answered in between bites of a sandwich.

Maybe I heard him wrong, I told myself. It was kind of hard to make out the exact words of a 19 year old guy who has every crevice of his cavernous mouth stuffed with a ham sandwich.

"Huh?" I replied.

"Can't mom. I don't have it."

I stared at my boy before I let him have it:

"Tgioug kfeoe49g fogigtoiffrr hiyr ve#$%$%$#GDF!!" I screamed.

He stared at me as if I were a martian.

"Ma! Calm down!!! I can't understand a word you're saying!!"

Calm down. Calm down?? I will try as soon as I get my head unstuck from the ceiling!

I finally landed.

"I need you to pay this bill."

"Ma," he smiled at me in a condescending manner that made me want to bop his head against the wall. "Peace out. It's all good."

"So you're going to pay it?"

"Can't. Don't have it." And he strolled away with another sandwich in his hand.

I am a believer in tough love. So this is what I did. I phoned the altell people and paid the bill with my card. Then I instructed them to suspend his service until further notice, which they did immediately.

An hour later I saw a blur fly down the stairs. After the dust settled, I recognised it as my son. His eyes bulged out of their sockets. In his fist was his cell phone.

"Don't you think that was a bit radical, mom?"

Obviously he had just discovered he had no service.

I did not look up at him, and focused instead on the book I had been reading.

"Peace out. It's all good." is all I said.

After he pulled HIS head out of the ceiling and landed, I informed him that as soon as he reimbursed me for $162, I would have his service reinstated. He was a very unhappy camper but he knew that God (me) had spoken and would not back down.

It was amazing just how quickly he came up with the cash and his phone was turned back on. This has not occurred again all is good.

Until yesterday.

I pulled the mail out of the box and saw there was a new phone bill. I didn't give it a second thought until I opened it.


That's two hundred and twelve smackaroos.

Am I angry? No.
Am I ready to rip his ears off his head? No.
Am I ready to take the phone, set it behind my rear tires and back over it? No.
Am I ready to take my son, set him behind my rear tires and back over HIM? No.

And here's why:

"HAYWARD, Calif. -- A Hayward man is hoping his cell-phone service provider will work with him after receiving a massive bill for over $21,000 largely made up of charges incurred by his son after the teen was added to the family account, KTVU-TV in San Jose reported.

When he first got the bill in the mail, Ted Estarija couldn't believe his eyes.

Estarija said he thought adding his 13-year-old son to his cell-phone account would cost him an extra $50 a month. Instead, the recently unemployed Hayward father now owes Verizon $21,918.

"I was completely caught off guard," said Estarija. "This is outrageous. It seems like it comes to almost $100 a minute."

Estarija said he asked Verizon to restrict his son's usage to phone calls and texts, but the bill shows his son downloaded about 1.5 million kilobytes of data with his phone.

"This is not completely his fault," said Estarija. "I put more blame on Verizon than anybody. They shouldn't allow this to happen."

A Verizon spokeswoman told KTVU-TV she couldn't comment specifically about the issue while it is being investigated, but said the company planned to work with Estarija to resolve the problem.

Estarija admitted there may be a lesson to be learned here, but at almost $22,000 it comes at too high a cost.

"There's no way I can pay this, so (I'll do) whatever I can to get this resolved," said Estarija.

He said his biggest concern right now is not how to pay the bill, but helping his son. Estarija said his son has become despondent over causing his dad so much financial and emotional distress.

I feel so blessed. So very very blessed! (and as it turns out, my son has the cash to pay his $212 bill..)



  1. I don't understand who everyone talks to on the things. I don't have that many friends, and most of them would be suspicious if I kept calling them up or sending them text messages. Sometimes I see couples walking down the street, each happily talking on the phone to someone else. Worse is the person in the grocery store, seaming talking to him or herself about what veggies to buy. Then I spy the little ear-thingy. Ah. This person isn't crazy, just too dumb to shop without help. There is something way wrong with this whole picture. Neither Tuffy P nor I have personal cell phones. I have to carry one for my work, but I use it the barest minimum. I don't feel like I'm missing anything.

    I'm sure your readers will think this comment is made by a crochety old fart, but geez, I'm not that old, even if it seems as if I'm surfing the edge of crusty old farthood more and more.

  2. Here's the thing hon. It's your job to get kids to adults as best you can. From there they have to make it on their own and the only way for them to do that is to put the load on them.

    No way at that age was I going to put my kids on my things, if they wanted things they had to set up and pay for their own.

    Back then of course it wasn't about cell phone plans and such, more like car payments and insurance. I would help them some but there was no way I was going to be on the loan for the car with them, it's a learned behavior thing, if they learn you will help make the payments they'll get lazy about their share, which is all of it.

    And there wasn't anyway in hell I was putting them on my car insurance, they had to get their own.

    Anyway, where in the hell was I? Oh, a few months ago I bought a cell phone and had my land line number transferred to it and dropped my land line provider.

    It's a pay per minute phone but I seldom use a phone so even though I have to buy more air time every 90 days to keep the minutes I haven't used it costs me about $8.50 a month.

    the monthly bill of $79.


    For that kind of money I hope someone is getting phone sex.

  3. What is it with this cell phone shit anyway? For about forty bucks a month you have unlimited internut access for staying in touch with friends and enemy's and online sex and all that shit.

    Give him a fucking cheap laptop/notebook with wireless in it for christmas and tell him to go find free wireless hot spots and then getting on the internut is free.

    Three hundred bucks for the notebook and it's a done deal, the little pecker head will be at the library all the time for the free wireless internut instead of being in your hair, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

  4. Good mommies kick their kids out of the house and tell them to finish growing up on their own. Just saying.....

  5. Mr. Anchovy, I used to be the same way but I like being able to reach my kids whenever I want. Outside of that, I really don't care about them. (I mean cell phones..not the kids LOL)
    Crusty old farthood???? No way!

    Billy, I know I know..actually he does pay for all of his stuff. But I'll tell you, as soon as I fulfill the time period on the contract, he is on his own with his phone.

    Btw I laughed out loud about your library/laptop statement. Hes had three computers so far and has crashed all of them. I'm not going for four!

  6. If that little pecker head isn't smart enough to keep a computer running for four years that isn't your problem, unless you make it your problem.

    Git right down to it, any contact with the outside world is up to him and it's up to him to pay for it or do without it.

    Or just go visit his friends in person, that's my preference.

  7. All this internut and cell phone stuff is really remote to actually being with someone if you ask me. Is anyone out there having sex anymore? I mean with someone other than themselves.

  8. There I can defend him because when he is not working, he is with his friends. In fact, he just got home.

    But I do think you make a very good point. honest, I really do. In fact I wrote something about that here a while back.

  9. Get the same with Jacqui. My bill is around £30 - £40 per month, Carol's is around £40 - £50 and then there's Jax.


    "How'd you do that?"
    "Well I have to stay in touch with friends now I'm at Uni daddy. And just think. When I graduate and get a well paid job I can look after you"

    Jacqui 1 daddy 0.....not my victory....;-)

  10. Hahaha!!! Oh God, I know that feeling, Four. Right now the boy is doing well. However my daughter has decided it's her turn to be a renegade. I do not know why they cannot seem to get their acts together at the same time. Sometimes I think they plan it that way.

    Both of my kids tell me they will take care of me when I am old and gray but what they can't seem to grasp is that when I become totally submersed in my senior years, i am planning on kicking up my heels and going wild myself. :)

  11. Cool! When my mother got me my first cell phone she paid all the bills herself... :)
    Thanks for dropping by!

  12. AJ Anto! So pleased to see you here! Please stick around and be my friend. :)

  13. Hilarious!

    I love cell phones...they are a wonderful luxury item. I don't have one right now...don't really need it. I love my land line!

    I had a really good cell phone and service for when I was traveling back and forth between countries with international service. Now I don't really need one.

    I think it's always good to check out what we spend money on, what we need and what we like.

    Me, I would barter about the priviledge of the cell phone for a kid. Hopefully your son has a job and can keep paying the bill. I would have cut off his service too if he didn't pay for were right to do so.

  14. Yep he has a job and pays his own bills. I think he was testing the limits with that one he reneged on. He learned. Problem was, he has no credit so couldnt get an account in his own name.

    (Did I tell you he's engaged now, Candy?)

  15. Nice post. Like many of us, I've been hearing about this story again and again and personally, it's so hard to imagine how Estarija felt upon receiving that $21,000-plus Verizon Wireless bill. It's such a nightmare of epic proportions, only augmented by the fact that he is apparently recently out of work. And the human factor continues here with Estarija’s son, who apparently is taking the predicament very hard. But from a practical perspective, I wanted to respond with a strategy for eliminating those large bills before they even happen by effectively "right sizing" your plan. I work in the consumer advocacy division of the Houston-based company Validas, where we electronically audit and subsequently reduce the average cell bill by 22% through our website,

    Check us out in the media, most recently on Fox News at . By ensuring that Americans' wireless plans are optimally compatible with their wireless usage, we can work together to prevent situations like Estarija's from reoccurring.

    Consumer Advocacy,


Go ahead, you can do it! Just whistle if you want me. You know how to whistle, don't you? You just put your lips together and BLOW....

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