Grunt in Afghanistan gets $16,000 phone bill

US Telco AT&T has sent a bloke serving in the US military in Afghanistan a $16,000 phone bill.

Before being posted to Afghanistan in July, Pfc Jose Rivera Before agreed to pay an extra $4.95 a month to able to make international calls to his wife.

What the young soldier didn't realise was that he be would also be charged $5 a minute for every on the phone to his wife, plus 50 cents per text.

He soon found out though, when he was landed a bill for $9,000. Sensibly Rivera cancelled his account but there were other charges in the piple ine, which - with interest - have brought the total up to $16,000.

Capt. Evan Brainerd, Rivera's commanding officer at Forward Operating Base Shindand, Afghanistan, told Cnet he'd taken up his man's case with AT&T but found the telco's attitude, "unethical, unprofessional and inflexible".

Of the trained killer Brainerd said: "While he should have realised that $4.95 a month was probably too good to be true, he is a young soldier with minimal experience with phone plans or overseas travel."

Brainerd wrote in a letter to AT&T: "I have been disgusted by the way our soldiers have been treated, and largely ignored by AT&T's customer service throughout our efforts to resolve this problem. I am certainly not claiming that our soldier, PFC Rivera, is blameless and should not pay to a certain extent for his phone usage. However, $16,000 (every penny that this soldier and his family can hope to save during the course of this 1 year deployment) is a gross injustice."

Strangely enough after CNet wrote up the story, AT&T got in touch to offer to let private Rivera off paying the bill.