An investigation by CBC Marketplace reveals that wireless companies allow anyone on cellphone plans — including children — to authorize data overage charges that could add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars, despite government rules designed to keep data charges in check.

Rosemary Pick

“How could that happen? I had never approved that," says Rosemary Pick about $1,700 in data overage charges incurred after her children unblocked the data cap. (CBC Marketplace)

When Rosemary Pick saw her cellphone bill had more than $1,700 in data charges, she thought it must be a mistake.

When she complained, Bell told her a family member on her plan must have approved the overage charges and that she was on the hook.

Do you have a cellphone data overage horror story? Here's how the conversation went: 

(Please note that usernames are not necessarily the names of commenters. Some comments have been altered to correct spelling and to conform to CBC style. Click on the username to see the complete comment in the blog format.)

"I had a bill from my teenager in September from Bell for over $750 for data charges. When I asked them why it was so much when there was supposed to be a cap on it, all they said it was allowed by that phone. When I asked if they could cut the internet service after it reaches a certain point they told me they won't do that. Needless to say I wasn't happy." — me 

"First ever data phone. BB Tour with Telus. Was so excited. Got my first bill and it was over $700. This was due to rep error as they didn't properly put on the data plan. Telus was really good about it and credited all the $700. Horror story to good story." — K P 

"Years ago I had a phone that data couldn't be turned off (to my knowledge) and I started the internet accidentally in my purse while in Italy. Realized the error two hours later and I got out with only $174 of roaming data fees!" — Sarah 

"On a trip to Thailand back in 2011, I had my iPhone with me and had only wifi turned on. Turning my phone on to use wifi the iPhone ignored "airplane mode" and connected to a local network before I could turn airplane mode back on. About 15 seconds of connecting to a cell network in Thailand cost me $589 dollars in a surprise bill when I got back to Canada and Bell demanded immediate payment or they were going to disconnect my phone and send me to collections. Ridiculous." — Tom 

"Went on vacation to Japan in 2013. I had informed my carrier that I was going and added on 'travel packs' so I could text, call and use a bit of data (ie gps/maps). The awesome representative who I spoke with didn't add the package onto my account so was using data for maps and iMessage for texts back home. I came home and got a call from a special department stating that my bill had racked up to $3,000. Of course, I didn't pay for it and told them I did my due diligence and called them before. I ended up only paying $250 after everything was said and done. Whew!" by Usman khan 

"Traveling in Italy and Spain last spring and was only using data at open wifi spots. I had my phone on for business calls but didn't realize that without knowing I had set up Flickr to upload every photo I took. $1,500 bill arrived. Yikes!" — Alex C 

Can't see the chat? Use the mobile-friendly version of CBC Forum