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Old 08-02-2008, 05:23 PM
 
Location: in my mind
2,745 posts, read 13,101,062 times
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Okay, I didn't really know where to put this. As it relates to my stormy relationship with my mom I guessed it best to put it in Relationships but if the mods want to move it they will. It's a bit complicated and I want input as to whether or not I am understanding this the logical and correct way.

History: Two years ago (or so) my mother surprised me on my birthday with a Razr (the original, when they were kinda new) cell phone and service via TMobile.

She had entered a contract for service for her own benefit, and being a new customer they of course offered her another line cheap and the phones free and all that jazz. I think she paid $30 for the activation.

The total monthly bill was around $60 after taxes, for 2 lines, and she acknowledged that this was a gift but also said something along the lines of "Later on when you can help me pay the bill that would be appreciated." I was a bit annoyed by this but at the same time, I DID need a cell phone and after a few months (I was out of a job at the time) I did start paying half of the bill.

I was sharing the phone with my teenage son, since I worked from home, he would take it when he went to a friends house so I could reach him when needed. Fast forward a bit; my mom decided that my son should have his own phone, and added a line, and we also discussed adding another line for my partner, so at this time (when the lines were added) the phones for these lines were free with contract renewal, which would have happened regardless once my mom decided my son "needed" his own phone.

At the same time my partner's sister was ending her TMobile contract so she very generously gave my son a Sidekick phone and my mom decided to add internet service for him since he had the internet-capable phone. We all ended up with new phones (free with contract) and the Razr, which had been problematic for a while, went into a drawer to be a backup phone.

She said she would pay for her and my son's service, and we would pay for ours (me and my partner). Adding a line is $9.99 a month but with internet it is $19.99. Then my mom decided to add unlimited texting which is $20 a month for all of us and she upped the shared minutes on the plan as well, so the total bill was now about $110 a month broken down like this:

Basic family plan w/shared minutes: $60 (two lines included)
Add-line with internet for my son: $20
Add-line for my partner $9.99 (original 2 lines were for me and mom)
Add unlimited texting for everyone: $20, but divided by 3 of us really as the internet plan includes unlimited texting.

So the way I figure it, the logical way to share the bill is like this:

Basic plan divided by 2: $30 my share
Additional line for my partner: $10 more
Split of unlimited text costs: $14 more (figure 20 a month divided by 3 and rounded up to $7 a month)

So the total we'd pay is about $55 and my mom would pay about $60 since she offered from the beginning to pay for my son's phone and the internet service was HER idea.. so if she pays for her and my son's phones:

Basic plan divided by 2: $30 her share
Additional line for son: $19.99 a month
Her share of unlimited text costs: $7 a month

Either way it is almost a 50/50 split with my mom paying a TINY bit more due to my son's internet... but in reality we just called it 50/50 and paid half of every bill. Okay so enough of that.

All fine and dandy until my son screwed up big time and spent 5 hours on the phone with some girl, effectively using up everyone's minutes for the month all in one night. We never ran out of minutes so no one paid any attention, having no idea this had taken place, and we were ALL using the phone from that point forward on PEAK minute rates.. without a clue about it. All of us were guilty on not checking the minute usage. My son confessed to me about this call but he didn't realize that it had put us all into overage at the time either. He said "I don't know what it will cause but I will pay for it, I promise!"

Bottom line: an $800 surprise phone bill!! My mother went into ORBIT as you can imagine. Everyone's individual bill was right around $200 give or take five bucks so no one person was guiltier than the other (WELL, except for my son who used up all the free minutes in the first place)...

My mom didn't get onto my son about this though... she screamed at ME. Then she cut off my partner's phone line! Just hers, no one else's. Certainly not my son's! He's her "baby" and can do no wrong. Don't get me wrong, he is a great kid who did a stupid thing and took responsibility (he has since paid me back)... but my mom thinks his poop doesn't stink.

In the end we (my partner and I) paid $600 of this bill. My mother paid the remainder. So I effectively paid for me, my son, and my partner's portion. I certainly didn't point out to my mom that she agreed to pay my son's bill in the first place. I wanted to pay all of it because regardless, it is my kid who did this... but I didn't have $800 so I paid $600.

Is this the fair way to have handled payment of this bill?

The issue has become a bigger issue because I am now behind on the "regular" bill and couldn't pay it in full for April and May because I was out of work. I've told my mom I will catch up ASAP and I have paid for June and July and we have been very very careful with the usage, basically allowing her almost all of the shared minutes, using only 40 minutes a month out of those minutes (between the THREE of us, me, myself, and my partner)... yet she is harping on it constantly and recently sent my PARTNER a very hateful text message telling her not to use the cell phone for 1-800 numbers as it "uses air time" (it was a 2 minute call and was within the included plan minutes) or she was going to "cut her off"!

When my partner pointed out that we'd only used a total of 40 minutes that month and that the 800 calls are not "toll" or extra or anything my mom told her not to get attitude about a phone she wasn't paying for.

Still, even when she realized we were not going to be able to pay in full and we told her right away (I got laid off a week before my partner did) she still kept my son's internet connection on there even though he TOLD her to cut it off for the time being to save money!

Oh, and she offered to get him a health club membership and then sent me a $50 check for my birthday. I haven't cashed it and am planning on sending it back with a note to use it for the phone bill that is apparently an issue plaguing her NIGHT and DAY.

So anyway she is being really nasty about this bill... and I am tempted to bring up the $800 bill because TECHNICALLY, didn't we pay my son's portion which she said she would pay? So technically didn't we over-pay by about $200, which would certainly cover our normal bill for April and May? See where I'm going with this?

Please understand, I am not trying to get out of paying the darn phone bill... I'm just reacting to my mother's nastiness and her crazy desire to pin EVERYTHING on my partner if something goes wrong while absolving her little darling (my son) of any and all responsibility... so would I be "correct" in pointing out to her that we basically paid in advance for those 2 months by paying my son's portion since she agreed from the get-go to pay HIS bill and hasn't so much as even cut off his internet service during all this, OR said a word to him about the whole issue of using up the minutes??

I know this is a bunch of drama but I wonder what you would do. But to answer that, you need to understand what a crazy you know what my mother is... I curse the day that she brought the stupid phone to me in the first place. I have lots of issues with her and this is just the one at the forefront right now.

Now I am bound by HER contract yet have no control over the phone usage or bill or plan. Oh and she keeps saying that she "paid for all those phones" when every single one was a "free with service" deal and she was going to renew the contract anyway. I had NOTHING to do with her decision to get my son a phone in the first place. I was planning on going POCKET for all of us before she took this on herself.

Prior to the $800 bill there had been no issue with us paying in full and on time but she was STILL acting crazy about it and constantly telling us not to do this or that with the phone (directory assistance call at $1.49 sent her through the roof even though we PAID IT, for example)...or having a fit when my son considered selling the sidekick (that my partner's sister gave him!!) to get a different kind of phone, it's a control issue for her like everything else.


Last edited by fierce_flawless; 08-02-2008 at 05:24 PM.. Reason: OMGosh that is LONG. So sorry.
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Old 08-02-2008, 06:19 PM
 
Location: DFW - Coppell / Las Colinas
31,838 posts, read 36,505,635 times
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Wow that is long. With my ADD, you lost me about the 4th paragraph. Sounds like a mess but whatever it is you should never loan money or do business with family.

Can't you get your own service ?
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Old 08-02-2008, 06:33 PM
 
Location: Charlotte, NC
2,193 posts, read 4,538,662 times
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seriously, first why in the world is ur partner involved in ur drama w/ ur mom. ur partner should have his/her own phone.

just give the phones back to ur mom and be done with it. and if u can't afford the cell phones on ur own, then either live w/o one or deal w/ ur mom being controlling.
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Old 08-02-2008, 07:00 PM
 
Location: USA
1,244 posts, read 2,877,844 times
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I am a TMobile subscriber so I understand how they work. Right now you are bound to the contract because of the renewal when adding the phones and the lines. However, my suggestion would be that once the contract is over, do not renew the lines. Let your mother keep her's and your son's if you so wish. But yours and your partner's, nope, don't renew them. Get your own if necessary and that will eliminate the problem of how much you have to give her or the covering of any overages your son may have in the future. It will be between her and him then.

My mother has a similar arrangement with me with the exception that my being a single mother on a tight budget, and her being able to afford it, she simply covered the bill. Now that I am married, I have taken over the payments for mine and my daughter's, while she continues to cover my son's because it is actually 2 seperate accounts and his phone is on hers. She states she would pay the same with or without him as it is a family plan.

If you are having other issues with your mom, I am sure this is not helping any. Therefore, you need to figure out how to cut back the issues wherever possible. In reading your post, I was unclear as to what is the total amount of the bill right now, every month, for all 4 phones, plan and additional services. Understanding that clearly, I may be able to offer some other suggestions but without being able to clearly make that out, it is a bit difficult.
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Old 08-02-2008, 07:01 PM
 
Location: Beautiful New England
2,412 posts, read 6,458,485 times
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I see multiple things going on here:

1. the creeping expansion of cell phone service -- and corresponding rise in the bill -- that you didn't really want but implicitly agreed to because you didn't put your foot down (no, you didn't agree to the new phones/service but you never put your foot down and said "no," either)

2. your son's irresponsible use of the phone that caused the huge bill and a big problem for the family.

3. your difficult relationship with your mom.

In hindsight, I think its clear that you should have not agreed to the expansion of cell service and new phones, etc. And given your difficult relationship with your mom it may have been only a matter if time until a situation emerged that led to a problem. It some ways this was probably a train wreck waiting to happen.

Still, you should have paid more of the bill: your mom should have simply paid her half of the normal rate (i.e. her regular portion) and you should have picked up the remainder since it was your son who ultimately caused the massive bill. Since she paid $200. it seems to me that she paid more than her fair share. But this is family, after all, and everyone chipping in to get out of the jam seems reasonable to me. Still, you were on the hook for more.

OTOH, her hateful message was way out of line and being nasty about the situation is no good, either. She owes an apology. As for your mom not laying into your son: the bottom line is that you are responsible for him and I don't think her laying into you for what he did was entirely off base.

Your son needs to a pay heavy price here, too. Yes, yes, there's a whole stew of family relations that are simmering here and the phone bill was simply a spark set to a tinderbox. But his irresponsibility is very significant here -- by being behind in your bill this could adversely affect your credit rating which will have major, long term negative economic consequences. He should pay back all of the money and learn a valuable lesson from his very damaging behavior.

And, please, get separate phone bills from now on. Consider the increase in the amount paid for cell service an investment in family harmony.
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Old 08-02-2008, 07:05 PM
 
Location: in my mind
2,745 posts, read 13,101,062 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rakin View Post
Wow that is long. With my ADD, you lost me about the 4th paragraph. Sounds like a mess but whatever it is you should never loan money or do business with family.

Can't you get your own service ?
LOL, I am sorry... it is MY ADD that made it a mess to read. It makes much more sense "in person".

Basically my mom "gifted" me with a cell phone and the obligation of paying the bill, then she gifted my son with a phone line and internet service and said SHE would pay for his phone bill. Son wreaked havoc going way over the allotted minutes, causing a $800 bill. Everyone of us screwed up by not watching the minutes after he did this (not realizing he'd done it) and the bill was huge as a result.

I paid all but my mom's fourth of the big bill so it's my understanding that I basically "overpaid" when I did this by paying my son's portion that she had previously said she'd pay, since she wants to get nasty about the phone bill and take it out on the wrong person (my partner)... because now she's harassing me for 2 months (normal bill amounts) that we didn't pay our share in full even though we're paying now and I am trying to catch up on those 2 months.

So because of the way she is blowing all this up out of proportion I have half a mind to point out that I techniclly paid the portion of the 800 bill that was my son's, even though she had said she's pay my son's bill... and that she should just apply that to what we owe her now.

I would be thrilled to have our own service, we want Pocket unlimited... but since there's a contract we haven't done this. The thing is, since she started all this as a "gift", I feel obligated to finish out the contract, because if I just quit paying and give the phones back then she will be hit with a $250 per-line cancellation fee for three lines. I believe there's another year left on the contract. If I could I would just give her the $800 in cancellation fees to be done with it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sheenie2000 View Post
seriously, first why in the world is ur partner involved in ur drama w/ ur mom. ur partner should have his/her own phone.

just give the phones back to ur mom and be done with it. and if u can't afford the cell phones on ur own, then either live w/o one or deal w/ ur mom being controlling.
Same answer applies here really... and remember, I never asked my mom to go out and get me a phone in her name on her credit and with a contract that she is bound to.... and I never asked her to extend the contract (when she decided to get the phone for my son).... I DID ask her to add the one extra line for my partner at that time so we'd all have phones but we always paid it and like I said, my mom was renewing the contract at that time anyway. It made more sense than starting a whole new account ($10 a month vs. another $30 minimum) OR using pre-paid or some other carrier since all of us being on TMobile means free mobile-to-mobile minutes.

My partner is my girlfriend who is, for all intents and purposes, my spouse but of course not legally... and the point is, every time there is any perceived "problem" my mom wants to blame it on my partner or take her phone away or whatever because she's just THAT WAY and has treated her like that for a while now. She offered this whole phone thing because we were going the prepaid route and this was cheaper...... I should have refused the "gift" from day one I suppose.

So as much as I'd love to be out of this mess I cannot be until I can either pay the cancellation fees in full (not anytime soon) or the contract expires.

The big issue is that my partner hasn't done anything wrong in all of this, just paid the bill along with me but when there is a problem my mom blames her and her only and even cut HER phone off when we had the 800 bill, but left the others on.

My whole question was whether or not I truly paid "in advance" by paying my son's big bill if my mom is going to nitpick and nag... or should I have paid his bill regardless when he went over, because he's my kid, even though my mom got him the phone and told me she'd pay his bill (when I told HER I couldn't afford the phone for him).
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Old 08-02-2008, 07:12 PM
 
Location: Maryland
1,667 posts, read 8,365,544 times
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I read the whole thing, actually. I'd contact the phone company and see about cancelling my service. You're obligation is probably up by now anyway, which would cost nothing to cancel. Or, if it's been awhile, it would benefit to cancel with a small fee. Cell phones and internet are usually non-essential items (lots of people have neither). And, as said previously, friends and business shouldn't mix.
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Old 08-02-2008, 07:25 PM
 
Location: in my mind
2,745 posts, read 13,101,062 times
Reputation: 1605
Quote:
Originally Posted by mari4him View Post
I am a TMobile subscriber so I understand how they work. Right now you are bound to the contract because of the renewal when adding the phones and the lines. However, my suggestion would be that once the contract is over, do not renew the lines. Let your mother keep her's and your son's if you so wish. But yours and your partner's, nope, don't renew them. Get your own if necessary and that will eliminate the problem of how much you have to give her or the covering of any overages your son may have in the future. It will be between her and him then.

My mother has a similar arrangement with me with the exception that my being a single mother on a tight budget, and her being able to afford it, she simply covered the bill. Now that I am married, I have taken over the payments for mine and my daughter's, while she continues to cover my son's because it is actually 2 seperate accounts and his phone is on hers. She states she would pay the same with or without him as it is a family plan.

If you are having other issues with your mom, I am sure this is not helping any. Therefore, you need to figure out how to cut back the issues wherever possible. In reading your post, I was unclear as to what is the total amount of the bill right now, every month, for all 4 phones, plan and additional services. Understanding that clearly, I may be able to offer some other suggestions but without being able to clearly make that out, it is a bit difficult.
Yes, absolutely when the contract is over we are NEVER doing this again.

The total NORMAL phone bill is about $110 a month.

And yes, I have HUGE issues with my mom and have for decades... and she is famous for giving "gifts" with strings. Anything, everything... gives you a gas BBQ pit for Christmas? Be prepared for questions on where you're storing it, how often you clean it, how often you use it, and admonishments if you don't use it "enough". Get a plant from her? Lord help you if it dies. Oh and you can never get rid of anything she's given you, be it to Goodwill, or selling it, or just giving it away. She has "first dibs" and will come over and look around and start the 20 questions on where this or that is.

She used to give my kids animals WITHOUT consulting me first until I put my foot down on that after suffering her wrath when it didn't work out (like when the gerbil turned out to be pregnant and then ate all her babies giving my son emotional trauma, or when the parakeet got out of it's cage and flew out the open front door, or when the goldfish died 3 days after my son brought it home and it was some how my fault, according to her)...

My mom is a huge control freak AND unfairly negative towards my partner of over 5 years who has done nothing but kiss her butt and try and gain her approval.


Quote:
Originally Posted by professorsenator View Post
I see multiple things going on here:

1. the creeping expansion of cell phone service -- and corresponding rise in the bill -- that you didn't really want but implicitly agreed to because you didn't put your foot down (no, you didn't agree to the new phones/service but you never put your foot down and said "no," either)

That's true. Live and learn huh?

2. your son's irresponsible use of the phone that caused the huge bill and a big problem for the family.

3. your difficult relationship with your mom.

In hindsight, I think its clear that you should have not agreed to the expansion of cell service and new phones, etc. And given your difficult relationship with your mom it may have been only a matter if time until a situation emerged that led to a problem. It some ways this was probably a train wreck waiting to happen.


You are right.. hindsight's 20/20 and all that.


Still, you should have paid more of the bill: your mom should have simply paid her half of the normal rate (i.e. her regular portion) and you should have picked up the remainder since it was your son who ultimately caused the massive bill. Since she paid $200. it seems to me that she paid more than her fair share. But this is family, after all, and everyone chipping in to get out of the jam seems reasonable to me. Still, you were on the hook for more.

OTOH, her hateful message was way out of line and being nasty about the situation is no good, either. She owes an apology. As for your mom not laying into your son: the bottom line is that you are responsible for him and I don't think her laying into you for what he did was entirely off base.

Your son needs to a pay heavy price here, too. Yes, yes, there's a whole stew of family relations that are simmering here and the phone bill was simply a spark set to a tinderbox. But his irresponsibility is very significant here -- by being behind in your bill this could adversely affect your credit rating which will have major, long term negative economic consequences. He should pay back all of the money and learn a valuable lesson from his very damaging behavior.

And, please, get separate phone bills from now on. Consider the increase in the amount paid for cell service an investment in family harmony.
Thanks for the input. YES, no more contracts with my mom again ever, verbal or otherwise.

My son paid back every penny... some in physical work, much of it in cash, and I even tried to have him do some work for HER for free as well (lawn care and such that she usually pays him for) but she wouldn't allow it and paid him anyway.

I REALLY think he learned his lesson and he has been apologetic and remorseful ever since, the issue I have is that she would have "laid into" ANYONE else but him. He even sees this and questioned why she was not "chewing him out" for it instead of pointing the finger at my partner primarily for any and all cell phone issues.

I know it sounds very crazy... and I have to say that if this were anyone else I would not even be questioning if I should have paid "his" share of the bill. I guess it's just her annoying attempts at spoiling my son and putting him on a pedestal coupled with her hatefulness towards my partner that have me wanting to say "Okay fine, you wanted to pay HIS bill, here ya go!" which I suppose is very childish but lately she is driving me absolutely bonkers.

She also says things that are blatantly NOT true and it's so frustrating... like the other day she told my son that we would "never" pay the missing $$ for the 2 months we didn't pay in full. That kind of statement makes me crazy, because I try VERY hard to stay away from money issues with her but in the past on the few occasions I HAVE ended up owing her I have always paid her back in full and quickly and she seems to just create stuff in her head to bolster her sense of self-righteous indignation. I do wonder if she is really losing her mind sometimes.

Furthermore and not that it makes it "okay" to owe her money, but from the way she carries on about a $1.50 directory assistance call you'd think she was living in poverty, forced to subsist on cat food like the old ladies in the comic strips... and that is far from the truth. She is financially FINE and no harm will come to her if I owe her half the bill for a couple months until I catch up.

I could go on about what she's spent in comparison on hauling my brother out of jail repeatedly, or paying his past due child support to keep him OUT of jail, or paying for lawyers... but that's another thread entirely I guess.

So yeah, there is a LOT more going on here than a phone bill for sure!
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Old 08-02-2008, 07:29 PM
 
Location: in my mind
2,745 posts, read 13,101,062 times
Reputation: 1605
Quote:
Originally Posted by ESFP View Post
I read the whole thing, actually. I'd contact the phone company and see about cancelling my service. You're obligation is probably up by now anyway, which would cost nothing to cancel. Or, if it's been awhile, it would benefit to cancel with a small fee. Cell phones and internet are usually non-essential items (lots of people have neither). And, as said previously, friends and business shouldn't mix.
Thanks for reading the whole thing! I realize it was jumbled and emotional. The big issue is that the contract is still around a year away from ending though, and it's in my MOM's name, not mine... and to get out of it would be around $250 PER phone line... so $500 if it was just me and my partner's phone and closer to $800 if we cancelled my son's as well.

I am hoping to do that as soon as I can but I can't do it just yet so I am forced to deal with her. I would like to just send the phones back now and continue to pay half the bill, but that would mean no money for another phone (such as a Trac Fone) and unfortunately we DO need at least one for the adults emergency purposes, having older cars and crazy schedules like we do, and my teen son needs some kind of phone as he cares for his younger siblings afterschool and they take the bus home and if anything for peace of mind that he has a phone for emergencies. So if I have to keep paying the half of the bill to my mom I don't have the money to pay for another phone option at this time. It's either/or.
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Old 08-02-2008, 07:33 PM
 
Location: Up above the world so high!
45,270 posts, read 88,403,909 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fierce_flawless View Post
LOL, I am sorry... it is MY ADD that made it a mess to read. It makes much more sense "in person".

Basically my mom "gifted" me with a cell phone and the obligation of paying the bill, then she gifted my son with a phone line and internet service and said SHE would pay for his phone bill. Son wreaked havoc going way over the allotted minutes, causing a $800 bill. Everyone of us screwed up by not watching the minutes after he did this (not realizing he'd done it) and the bill was huge as a result.

I paid all but my mom's fourth of the big bill so it's my understanding that I basically "overpaid" when I did this by paying my son's portion that she had previously said she'd pay, since she wants to get nasty about the phone bill and take it out on the wrong person (my partner)... because now she's harassing me for 2 months (normal bill amounts) that we didn't pay our share in full even though we're paying now and I am trying to catch up on those 2 months.

So because of the way she is blowing all this up out of proportion I have half a mind to point out that I techniclly paid the portion of the 800 bill that was my son's, even though she had said she's pay my son's bill... and that she should just apply that to what we owe her now.

I would be thrilled to have our own service, we want Pocket unlimited... but since there's a contract we haven't done this. The thing is, since she started all this as a "gift", I feel obligated to finish out the contract, because if I just quit paying and give the phones back then she will be hit with a $250 per-line cancellation fee for three lines. I believe there's another year left on the contract. If I could I would just give her the $800 in cancellation fees to be done with it.




Same answer applies here really... and remember, I never asked my mom to go out and get me a phone in her name on her credit and with a contract that she is bound to.... and I never asked her to extend the contract (when she decided to get the phone for my son).... I DID ask her to add the one extra line for my partner at that time so we'd all have phones but we always paid it and like I said, my mom was renewing the contract at that time anyway. It made more sense than starting a whole new account ($10 a month vs. another $30 minimum) OR using pre-paid or some other carrier since all of us being on TMobile means free mobile-to-mobile minutes.

My partner is my girlfriend who is, for all intents and purposes, my spouse but of course not legally... and the point is, every time there is any perceived "problem" my mom wants to blame it on my partner or take her phone away or whatever because she's just THAT WAY and has treated her like that for a while now. She offered this whole phone thing because we were going the prepaid route and this was cheaper...... I should have refused the "gift" from day one I suppose.

So as much as I'd love to be out of this mess I cannot be until I can either pay the cancellation fees in full (not anytime soon) or the contract expires.

The big issue is that my partner hasn't done anything wrong in all of this, just paid the bill along with me but when there is a problem my mom blames her and her only and even cut HER phone off when we had the 800 bill, but left the others on.

My whole question was whether or not I truly paid "in advance" by paying my son's big bill if my mom is going to nitpick and nag... or should I have paid his bill regardless when he went over, because he's my kid, even though my mom got him the phone and told me she'd pay his bill (when I told HER I couldn't afford the phone for him).

Chalk it all up to a lesson well learned (always politely refuse offers of "gifts" from family that involve any money), take a deep breath, let it out and let all this aggravation go with it. EVERYONE involved made a mistake at one point or another - let it go or incur further aggravation, stress and ill-will toward/from your mother - life is too short. And get out of the phone deal ASAP.
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