I’ve been with the same cell phone provider for a long time, probably 12 years or more. For the past few years, I’ve had a talk, text and surf plan with a 2G (gigabyte) data package for about $99. However, I noticed my bill creeping up over the last few months and I started receiving text messages telling me that I was about to exceed my monthly quota of data and after that, I would have to pay 30 BDS cents per MB (megabyte), with a recommendation that I should upgrade my plan to avoid extra charges.
Well, I have resisted upgrading because, quite frankly, I did not want to pay any more for my cell phone. To my knowledge, I was not using any more data than before, but maybe I was. Then last month I got a bill for $776.59, most of which is for data. Well you can imagine my horror because, to my knowledge, I did not use any more data than the month before. When people send me large videos on Whatsapp, I don’t download them until I am within range of Wi Fi and I certainly don’t watch movies on my phone. I therefore sent the company an email querying the bill, but I have not heard anything yet.
Last Friday, barely two weeks after paying my bill, I got a message saying I had used 95 per cent of my quota with the same message about the cost per MB being 30 cents if I go over and to upgrade my data plan to avoid paying those charges. But what really shocked me was the message I received three days later advising that I had used all my data and that I would be charged 40 US cents per MB from then on. I cannot imagine how the charge increased from 30 BDS cents to 40 US cents in three days. There must be some error.
In any case, I feel bullied into upgrading my plan by these excessive charges. The problem is that, unlike a phone call where you know the day you called and you can see how long you were on the call, with data we have no way (to my knowledge) of tracking how much we use and what was the source of the usage. As a result, we are left to the mercy of the cell phone provider to bill us for our unknown usage. The bill also just gives a figure. It does not indicate how many megabytes were actually used or show the rate applied to arrive at that figure.
Based on the 30 BDS cents per megabyte, the amount of $550.32 on my bill would suggest I used an extra 1834.4MB. Even if I downloaded all the Whatsapp videos, they probably would not come to more than 400 MB so I am waiting to hear where I used all of that data. First of all, I can’t imagine using 2G of data in the first place so I obviously need to be educated in what constitutes data usage so that I can eliminate or cut back in those areas. The bottom line, though, is that I feel I am being bullied, through my bill, to force me to upgrade my plan.
To move to a 4G plan, I will have to pay $150 a month which, obviously, is more attractive than paying $700 or more. But then, if I will be paying just $51 more for an extra 2G, how on earth can they justify charging me $550 for what amounts to 1834 MB? I find that is unscrupulous and, believe me, it is making me consider changing to the other cell phone provider. How I wish we had more options to choose from. I also hear complaints from pre-paid users. Someone was telling me that she put $50 on her phone and by the next day, it was gone.
Is it Whatsapp using all the data? Is it the Internet? Even when I am away and turn on roaming to make a quick call or something, my bills have never been that much. It seems to me that these companies are ripping off their customers and bullying them into taking more expensive packages to avoid paying excessive charges. I sent my email querying the bill five days ago and have not even got an automated response saying that they have received my email and will be getting back to me in 24 hours or whatever.
You mean with all the technology they are involved with, they cannot even acknowledge receipt of an email? I am so sick of poor customer service and being overcharged for it at that. Half the time my phone is waiting for connection on the supposedly fastest network in Barbados! When that is not happening, my calls are dropping out when I drive through certain areas and, to top it all off, I am being bullied into upgrading my package.
This is the last straw!
(Donna Every is an author, international speaker and trainer. She was Barbados Ambassador for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (2014 – 2016) and is the Barbados Facilitator for the InfoDev WINC Acceleration Programme. Email: email@example.com; Website: www.donnaevery.com; www.facebook.com/DonnaEvery1)