Sisters contact ‘Better Call Behnken’ for help with $24,512 phone bill

(WFLA) – If you think your phone bill is high, this may be make you feel better. Imagine getting a bill for $24,512.37. And that’s for 25 hours worth of service.

Joann Dalnoky, of Odessa, was shocked to see this amount, in black and white. Last month’s bill was $230.09.

“This has to be a mistake or some kind of fraud,” Joann said. “I don’t even know how this could happen.”

sisters phone bill

It all started with two vacations. Joann went to Germany, and her sister, Michelle, went to Morocco. Michelle is on Joann’s family plan and called T-Mobile before she left the U.S., she says, to ask how to turn on her roaming. T-Mobile requires customers to contact customer service and turn on roaming, in order to use roaming in a country that is included in its database of countries where roaming is free. Michelle Dalnoky said wanted to occasionally use Google Maps in Morocco and send text messages to her sister in Germany. Michelle said she was warned if she watched a movie on her phone it could cost $15.

Michelle said the Internet never seemed to work. She grew frustrated and put the phone in her purse, not using it. But that phone was roaming. It’s a mystery no one can seem to solve, but the phone was racking up charges. One charge was for $12,002.23 – in just a few minutes. The women didn’t know what was happening until their phones were shut off by T-Mobile after 25 hours. But, by that time, the bill was nearly $25,000.

Joann said T-Mobile did not contact her, the account owner, to warn her that her phone bill was out of control. T-Mobile did, however, send a couple of text messages to Michelle’s phone to warn her about roaming charges. There was a text message sent when the bill reached $50. There was also a text message sent when the bill reached $500, but none after that. Michelle said she did not see any of these text messages until she was back home from Morocco.

Joann said when she got back home last week, she had a conference call with T-Mobile. They told her she was on her own, she said. Apparently, T-Mobile has free roaming with 140 countries, but Morocco is not one of them. She said a customer service representative told her T-Mobile would collect the money for a Moroccan telecom.

“She just kept talking, wouldn’t let me speak,” Joann said. “She just kept saying, ‘You’re gonna have to go on a payment plan.'”

So, with just six days left to pay before the phones would be shut off again, she called 8 On Your Side.

Better Call Behnken went to the top and contacted T-Mobile’s CEO, John Legere. Within hours, a spokesman called to say the fees would be waived.

It’s still unclear how this much data was used and why Joann was not notified of the climbing charges. The spokesman said the case will be reviewed and used as a “learning opportunity.”

Joann and Michelle are thrilled.

“We are so happy,” Joann said. “So relieved.” provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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