Windsor

Virgin Mobile shaves more than $12K off Ontario senior's hefty cell bill

An 80-year-old man who is visually impaired and received a $13,000 bill from Virgin Mobile is no longer on the hook for the large sum.

Company says it couldn’t verify if Willie Guerard knew his spending cap was removed

Willie Guerard said he was told to pay the balance after speaking with someone at Virgin Mobile about the expensive bills. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

An 80-year-old man who is visually impaired and received a $13,000 bill from Virgin Mobile is no longer on the hook for the large sum.

"I think right now they could be doing a little better, but I'm satisfied with that," said Willie Guerard, who lives in Amherstburg, Ont. "They're not going to get my best wishes, you know what I mean?"

Guerard and his wife, Yvonne, who by their own admission are not tech-savvy, told the CBC earlier this month that they don't really even use the internet on their phone.

They said it was their understanding that their service would be cut off if their account balance reached $200 in any given month, so they were surprised when they received two bills, for approximately $5,000 and $7,000, respectively.

Virgin Mobile said it had removed spending caps such as those after the pandemic began up until the beginning of July but it continued to charge for any costs for overages people incurred.

Guerard and his wife said they contacted Virgin Mobile after receiving the large bill and were told they had to pay it. It was only after CBC made inquiries published in a web story earlier this month that the company took a second look at the massive bill.

Virgin Mobile said after 800 megabytes in overages, it charges $0.15 per megabyte which equals $150 per gigabyte. The company says Guerard used 104 gigabytes. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

"At least they're paying attention now. Before that I couldn't get nobody [to look into it], I just got the runaround," Guerard said.

Significant reduction

Initially, Virgin Mobile said that Guerard, who was an active data user, had twice requested to increase the amount of data on his account and consented to it. The company was unaware of Guerard's visual impairment and that it would be significantly reducing the outstanding balance in his account.

Last week, they said they'd reduced the amount he owed to what his usual monthly bill would have been.

"We took another look at Willie's account and couldn't verify that he received the notice about removing spending caps during COVID," a written response from the company read.

Guerard said after he called them, he found out the amount he now owes is $281, which he plans to pay. But he said he'll only be doing so once he gets it in writing.

About the Author

Jacob Barker

Videojournalist

Jacob Barker is a videojournalist for CBC Windsor.

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