Are phone companies in the habit of failing to tell their customers about what charges they have to pay?

I’ve just come back to a huge bill, despite minimal use of my phone while abroad. When I asked the customer service center why foreign customers were not informed of this beforehand (rather than after), I was told abruptly that the responsibility lies with the customer and that we cannot speak Japanese.

A similar thing happened to a friend of mine who was charged more than ¥200,000 for one month’s bill (his average monthly bill is about ¥8,000), because someone had neglected to give him correct billing information. Although the incident was put down to “miscommunication,” he still had to pay.

I wonder whether it is simply neglect by the phone companies or something more cynical? Is “miscommunication” a handy source of revenue? It might be interesting to know if any other people have had similar experiences in Japan.

james owens