Family gets $17,000 internet bill for movie download on trip to Canada

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A trip across the Ambassador Bridge to Canada turned out to be pretty expensive for one local family.

While their son watched videos online, he was unknowingly racking up thousands of dollars in data charges as his parents drove to Toronto.

"It was an innocent trip," said Mike Domzalski. "We had never been to Toronto. It was something different."

Domzalksi's April cell phone bill came with a charge of $17,476.99.

"They want to charge me $17,000," he said. "I just think it's insanity. (I'm) more than willing to pay what the actual rate would be- a couple hundred dollars- but this is like buying a brand new car for a roaming charge."

The Domzalskis' were taking a spring break trip from Macomb Township to Canada, when Mike's 11-year-old son picked up his iPad to pass the time.

"(He was) watching YouTube videos in the U.S., and once we got to Canada and over the bridge, he couldn't get a signal at all," Domzalski said.

That iPad was linked to Mike's work cell plan.

Days later, when Mike was in a meeting, he got a copy of the bill sent to him. Pictured in the photo above, Mike's is the one that's a bit higher than his co-worker's charges.

"I thought it was a practical joke or something," Domzalski said. "Our IT person at work said that this was the roaming charges for when (we) were in Canada."

...International roaming charges.

According to the breakdown of his bill, he was charged $11,733 for the first hour, and nearly $17,500 for five additional hours before AT&T cut it off. And Domzalski's son couldn't come close to getting his money's worth.

"For $17,000 he never even saw anything," Domzalski said. "The screen went blank and there was no connection for the whole time we were getting billed."

An AT&T spokesperson responded with the following statement:

"Because the data was downloaded outside of the U.S., international rates apply. In this case it was more than five hours of continuous data usage. We encourage people to enroll in our international plan."

"There could be people out there that are paying these bills," Domzalski said. "At least I have my company's support."

Mike says his wife and son's phones were set up for international roaming, but not his work phone.

"By not making a phone call to set up something on an iPad- which I might have missed- I shouldn't have to pay $17,500."

And Domzalski says anyone planning a trip across the border should be aware of what could happen.

"Make sure your phones are set up properly and your iPad," he said. "Because AT&T will get you if you don't do your homework, and you will end up with a bill like I got."

AT&T says once a customer crosses into Canada, a third-party carrier takes over and it's out of their hands.

FOX 2 is told an executive from AT&T has reached out to Mike's boss for more information.

FOX 2 plans to stay with story and update it when new information becomes available.