Calgary senior waited months for Fido to refund thousands after accidental bill overpayment

Aylmer Rauckman, who has Stage 4 cancer, paid $7,081 instead of $70.81. She then waited more than three months get her money back.

Aylmer Rauckman, who has Stage 4 cancer, paid $7,081 instead of $70.81 she owed

Aylmer Rauckman, who is battling Stage 4 cancer, walked to her mailbox regularly for more than three months looking for cheque from Fido. (Rosa Marchitelli/CBC)

After accidentally overpaying her cellphone bill by thousands, a Calgary senior who is battling Stage 4 cancer and living on a pension says she waited months for Fido reimburse her money. 

Aylmer Rauckman was shutting down her computer out of frustration in February 2018 when she decided to quickly make a cellphone payment.

In her haste, Rauckman popped the decimal in the wrong place and ended up paying $7,081.00 instead of $70.81 — the amount she actually owed.

"[I] pushed pay and oh my god. Phoned the bank right away — they're closed," she said.

Rauckman said when she called Fido she was told the company would refund her within five to 10 days. But the money didn't come.

She called back and again, was reassured a cheque was coming.

I would just sit here and shake and my heart would pound- Aylmer Rauckman

"They just kept saying, '[the] cheque's in the mail,'" said Rauckman. "And no cheque. So it's very frustrating."

As time went on, family members stepped in to help Rauckman get her money back. After a number of phone calls and emails, there was still nothing.

Rauckman has lung cancer and said her doctor recently stopped her chemotherapy, saying there was nothing else they could do, so the Fido situation did nothing but add to her already stressful life.

"I would just sit here and shake and my heart would pound," she said.

Company apologizes

After CBC News contacted Fido — which is owned by Rogers Communications — Rauckman received all of her money back, plus interest and banking fees. She was also promised a free phone and 12 months free service.

"We are truly sorry for the stress and frustration we have caused Ms. Rauckman and her family during an already difficult time," said Eric Agius, senior vice-president of customer care for Roger's, in an emailed statement.

The company, which apologized both by phone and in writing, said the delay was "unacceptable" and it's reviewing the case in an effort to make improvements.

Rogers said it mailed two cheques to Rauckman. According to the company, one cheque was sent to the wrong address on March 6, two weeks after Rauckman initially made the mistake. Another was sent to the correct mailing address on May 23. The second cheque was mailed after Rauckman's family contacted CBC News.

"In the end it was good," said Rauckman. "They have come through. But I just feel that waiting … months for $7,000 when you're not a healthy person [and] you don't work … it's unbelievable."

Customer complaints

In the first six months of 2018, the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services (CCTS), an independent dispute-resolution body, received over 650 complaints from Canadians who said they hadn't received credits or refunds from various providers.

"I think it's crazy that somebody would be out that amount of money for three months," said Howard Maker, CCTS commissioner and CEO.

According to Maker, billing systems vary from one company to another and can be very complex.

CCTS commissioner and CEO Howard Maker said it's reasonable in most cases for customers to expect a refund be made by the next billing cycle. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

While customers shouldn't expect providers to refund an overpayment within a few days, Maker said in most cases, it's reasonable to expect the refund be made by the next billing cycle.

And he said when a customer overpays by 100 times what they owe, "that should set some alarm bells ringing."

According to Maker, companies should, and often do, have processes in place for escalating serious complaints to a higher level.

"A case like this should trigger some specific responses quite apart from the normal processes," he said.

Maker said customers should be vigilant with their bill payments and be persistent if there is a mistake.

"Get on the phone … and don't take no for an answer," he said.

With files from Rosa Marchitelli