Years ago, I wrote a short story about a young woman who got into trouble with her long distance phone company by racking up a huge phone bill. In that story, in the days before ubiquitous cell phone usage, her “astronomical phone bill” was in the whopping amount of $853.52, which many of my Writing workshop peers found to be somewhat unbelievable. Well… better believe it, ‘cuz, as they say, “Truth is stranger than Fiction.”

Check out the below story to learn just how much financial trouble technology can get us into:

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2007-12-14 00:00:00.0 Lonely guy shocked to get $83,000 phone bill

By Claire Sibonney

TORONTO (Reuters) – A Canadian oil-field worker, stunned to get a C$85,000 ($83,700) cell phone bill, has had the charges reduced to C$3,400, but is still fighting them.

Piotr Staniaszek, a 22-year-old oil and gas well tester in rural northwest Alberta, became a figure of international media attention this week when his father went to the press to complain about the size of his son’s bill.

Staniaszek’s father, also named Piotr Staniaszek, said his son thought he could use his new phone as a modem for his computer as part of his C$10 unlimited browser plan from Bell Mobility, a division of Bell Canada.

He downloaded movies and other high-resolution files unaware of the charges they would incur.

“He’s working in the field sometimes, alone, in the shack. What to do? Drink vodka or go on the Internet?” Staniaszek senior told Reuters on Thursday from Calgary, Alberta.

“Now it’s $85,000 and nobody told him,” he said.

According to his invoice, the son rang up C$60,000 in charges in November, and they have since climbed to C$85,000.

Staniaszek senior said Bell has agreed to reduce the charges to C$3,400 for “goodwill”.

“It’s still high…Who can afford it?” he said, adding his son can barely make payments on a new truck he bought for work, and will continue to fight the charges.

A Bell spokesman said the plan is not intended for downloading files to a computer, and that’s clear in his contract.

Staniaszek said his son did not want to talk to the press after the interest his story has received and that he is afraid to use his cell phone and incur more long-distance charges.

(Reporting by Claire Sibonney; Editing by Peter Galloway)

Reprinted from Reuters, in the “NEWS” section.

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