A lesson in cellphone cost reduction: the $2M phone bill

Kenneth Slusher billEver opened an outrageous bill and thought it was time for some cellphone cost reduction? You aren’t alone. But once and awhile a truly extreme case comes along, and we’d like to introduce you to one of them.

Meet Ken Slusher of Damascus, Ore. Until a few weeks ago, he owed Verizon Wireless over $2 million.

Yes, take a moment to digest that. $2 million.

His saga started late last year, when he and his girlfriend got new phones from the carrier. A short time later, he realized he was being overcharged on his bill – which sadly isn’t unusual – and returned the phones, cancelling the plan.

You’d expect that to be the end of this story. It’s not. The bills kept coming, still littered with errors. Then the collection agencies started ringing.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, Slusher got the news that changed everything: a recorded message from Verizon stating his account now totaled $2,156,593.64.

Ten months later, a frustrated Slusher hit a brick wall when attempting to purchase a new home. Unable to get his mortgage approved due to the phantom debt, he turned to the media for assistance. After coverage by both KPTV Fox 12 Oregon and ABC, Verizon finally admitted a programming error was to blame for the outrageous bill and wiped the slate clean.

We could share a different story about someone hit with a ridiculous bill every day – it’s something we’ve written about before. These big errors are easily spotted and often make the news, but millions of smaller errors go unchecked and unnoticed every month. If one person’s bill can be off $15 each cycle, imagine what goes on at a company who uses 500 cellphones? Unfortunately, we don’t need to: it’s something that our consultants at Schooley Mitchell encounter every day.