Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume got a big surprise in the mail in February in the form of a phone bill after a trip to Rome, Italy.
Labeaume racked up charges of $11,800 for using his iPad and $8,060 for using his smartphone while travelling, according to documents Radio-Canada obtained through an Access to Information request.
He also got a $2,106 bill in July after using his iPad in the United States.
The mayor is angry at his cellphone provider.
"If you ask me why, I do not know. I’m very angry. I do not understand how cellphone companies allow this to happen," Labeaume said.
The mayor said he wasn’t aware that data roaming charges can multiply dramatically when people travel abroad.
"They told me I was using the 3G instead of the Wi-Fi. I’m not sure I understand everything," Labeaume said.
Fortunately for him, the cellphone company reimbursed part of his expenses.
For the Rome trip, the bill of $19,860 was reduced by nearly $13,000, leaving the city with a bill of $6,881.
However, there appears to be no reimbursement in the documents obtained for Labeaume’s U.S. trip in July.
He was officially on vacation at the time, but charged the city anyway.
"I work when I’m in the United States. They send me stuff. I’m never on vacation," he said.
Quebec City’s technology service modified its operations to ensure another situation like this doesn’t happen again.
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