CALGARY, Alberta — Piotr Staniaszek normally pays $147 a month for his cell phone. So he was more than a little surprised to learn his November bill had ballooned to $59,000.
And then it got worse.
When he called to inquire about the high figure, he was told that his bill this month was $83,000.
Staniaszek, 22, said he used his cell phone to download music and movies onto a computer, an unwise move in a country where mobile carriers charge expensive fees for data.
Staniaszek said his mobile carrier, Bell Mobility, should have alerted him and not have allowed his bill to rise to a "ridiculously huge" amount in six weeks.
"They should have let me know when my phone bill started going up," he said. "I thought it was the same thing when I plugged it into the computer and used it as a modem _ I guess not."
Staniaszek, an oil field worker, said he signed up with Bell Mobility to pay $10 a month to use a mobile browser on his cell phone.
But Bell Canada official Jeffrey Meerman said Staniaszek's cell phone plan is not intended for downloading files to a computer, and that is in his contract.
Meerman says the plan is meant for Internet surfing, e-mail access and file downloads to the phone itself.
He said Staniaszek had been using the phone as a modem to download high-resolution movies onto a computer.
Bell and Staniaszek have since negotiated the bill to $3,195.
Consumers have complained for years about the high cost of operating a cell phone in Canada, but the criticism has increased as data-intensive devices like the BlackBerry have become commonplace in the market.
A lack of economical data plans in Canada has helped keep Apple's iPhone device from entering the Canadian market, even though carriers in the United States, France, Germany and the United Kingdom already support the device.
The Canadian government just recently announced that other companies will be able to sell mobile phone plans and compete with Bell, Rogers and Telus.