Dad smashes cell phone after teen racks up $5,000 bill

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Every month I get my cell phone bill I feel a sharp pang of panic. What hidden fees are inside this time? But I can't begin to comprehend how Gregg Christoffersen felt when he opened up his monthly statement and saw that his 13-year old daughter had racked up $4,756.25 in a month. "It just hit us like a rock, like you're stepping into a bus," the Cheyenne, Wyoming dad told 9News.com.

Dena Christoffersen sent and received about 20,000 texts in one month. Their family's Verizon contract did not include a texting plan, meaning they were charged for every single text. Dena's parents thought texting had been disabled on their plan. Meanwhile she was launching over 300 texts every day, mostly at school.
I'm part of an SMS generation. My peers and I no longer hold conversations on the phone. I remember when texting was a strictly "Euro-Fad." Now it's become the primary means of communication after e-mail. When I call up a friend, the first thing they say is, "why didn't you just text me?" And the Millennial Generation, Dena's younger generation, never knew anything else. It's not surprising she managed to rack up so many texts.

But what is surprising is that Dena managed to get away with so much texting during the school day. Here in New York, all public schools have banned the use of cell phones. I can imagine that no text, no matter how important a discussion of Zac Efron's styling or Robert Pattinson's hair is to a 13-year old, is worth $5,000. Dena's grades sank in class from A's and B's down to F's. How she managed to get away with living on her cell phone, away from the unwatchful eyes of her teachers is unfathomable.

Shortly after opening the bill, father Christoffersen took a hammer to Dena's phone, smashing it to bits. Her grades are slowly going up, and her family is lobbying the Johnson Junior High School to crack down on its cell phone policy. And fortunately, after much deliberation, Verizon agreed to knock the bill down to a reasonable amount.

I made the mistake of going without a texting plan a couple of years ago. When I racked up over a thousand texts in a month, and my texting bill was more than my actual service bill, I realized I needed to sign up for a plan. The $19.99 added onto my monthly bill is well worth the added savings of paying per text. If you're even close to going over your texting allowances, make sure to add a plan, and save yourself in the long run.
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