In just one month, she sent and received enough text messages to justify (at least to the cell phone company) a nearly $4,800 bill.
"It was heart-stopping. It just so unreal," he said.
Verizon Wireless first gave his wife the news over the phone and when he first found out he said he was speechless. He and his wife suspended their daughter's cell phone privileges and grounded her for a year. But Christoffersen didn't stop there.
"I took a hammer to the phone," he said. Smashed to smithereens, he returned the phone to his daughter in a bag.
Christoffersen said he and his family had a text-less plan with Qwest Communications but when the company merged with Verizon earlier this year, unbeknownst to him, the ability to text was re-activated.
He and his wife had no idea their family's phones could send and receive text messages. But their daughter figured it out and quietly sent about 288 messages a day.
Verizon shut down their service for two days until they paid $300. At one point, Christoffersen wondered if he'd need to take out a bank loan to pay the bill. But after weeks of negotiating with an ally at Verizon, they were able to lower the bill to a far more manageable $120.
So, all's well that ends well. Except perhaps for Dena. Her father said that when they do get her a new phone, the text function is the first to go.
In 2007, a 22-year-old Canadian oil-field worker faced an astronomical $83,700 (C$85,000) cell phone bill, according to Reuters.
Piotr Staniaszek, who lived in rural Alberta, made headlines when his father brought his story to the media.
According to Staniaszek's father, who shares his name, the man thought he could use his phone as a modem for his computer. Thinking his unlimited browser plan with Bell Mobility (a division of Bell Canada) could handle it, he downloaded movies and other high-resolution files.
"He's working in the field sometimes, alone, in the shack. What to do? Drink vodka or go on the Internet?" the elder Staniaszek told Reuters. "Now it's $85,000 and nobody told him."
Even though Bell Mobility told Reuters that his plan was not intended to cover computer downloads, as a goodwill gesture, Staniaszek senior said the company pared down the charges to $2,790 (C$3,400).
In March, an Oklahoma woman filed a lawsuit against AT&T and RadioShack after a new netbook landed her with a $5,000 bill for exceeding her monthly data cap.
For $99.99, Billie Parks purchased the lighter and cheaper laptop cousin from RadioShack in December, according to the popular technology blog Ars Technica. With her new Acer Aspire One she signed a two-year contract for AT&T's mobile broadband service. For about $60 a month, the company offers 3G Internet access on the go.
In her complaint, Parks said that though she was warned by RadioShack that her first monthly bill might be a bit higher than expected, she was unaware that Internet data usage over 5GB would result in "astronomical additional charges running into the thousands of dollars," Ars Technica said.
Parks maintained that she and other RadioShack/AT&T customers were victims of fraud due to the companies "misleading" advertising.