Phoenix teen racks up $2,000 text message bill

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PHOENIX -- Thinking of getting your teenager a cell phone? Be careful.

Cost is no error

Cell phones can be cool for a teenager to have, but they can also be expensive.

I'm not talking about cell phone minutes. Instead, I'm talking about cell phone texting. And it seems like teenagers may be the worse offenders when it comes to tappin' those buttons.

Paul Stockford admits he does a lot of e-mailing to communicate with co-workers, but one thing he won't do is text message on his cell phone.

"Among teenagers, it's beyond just a fad," Stockford said. "It's kind of a way of life now."

So, Stockford got his 16-year-old daughter a cell phone and put her on a texting plan.

"They'll text each other a hundred times rather than pick up the phone and get it over with in two minutes," he said.

A month later, though, Stockford got his daughter's cell phone bill from T-Mobile.

"Well, I was thinking, they sent me a catalog," he said.

But, it wasn't a catalog. It was page after page listing his daughter's text messages. The grand total was almost $2,000.

"My heart jumped," Stockford said.

It turns out Stockford's daughter, like a lot of teens, came across magazine advertisements for all kinds of services.

All kids had to do was push those cell phone buttons and a teenager's world would open up.

"You know, text this number and find out your dating horoscope and text this number to meet new friends," Stockford explained.

But what many kids failed to see at the bottom of the advertisement was a tiny disclaimer saying every text was $1.99.

Some cost even more while others were just 99 cents. But over time, Stockford says that tiny amount really adds up.

"On those conversations, there was a 99-cent charge being racked up literally every minute," Stockford said.

He says it's been an incredibly expensive lesson, but one he wants every parent to learn before they find out the hard way.

"I would say, just be aware of everything your teen is looking at even those innocent teen magazines," Stockford said.

Now, Stockford's cell phone company had nothing to do with this because they weren't the one charging. Still, they were nice enough to reduce his bill to $800 after hearing about his situation.

I say if your kid has cell phone capability, monitor their texting, but more importantly talk with them and let them know not all texting is free and they have to be careful.