ATT + iPhone int'l. roaming data horror story: $3K bill - UDPATE

UPDATE, 12:18PM PT: Dave says, "AT&T just called and agreed to waive all charges due to the 'miscommunication.' I think they have a customer for life now."

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BoingBoing reader Dave Stolte says,

I have a caveat emptor to top them all. I purchased an iPhone on opening day to use in lieu of a cumbersome laptop while traveling in Ireland and England for two weeks in early July. AT&T promises "easy, affordable, and convenient plans" in their advertising... turns out I got two out of three.

On the way to the airport, I activated the per-use international roaming data plan - the only one offered to me. The rep quoted me $.005 per KB but did not disclose what that would translate to in layman's language (i.e., X amount per e-mail, X amount per web page, etc.). I'm a web developer as part of my career and I couldn't even tell you how many KB the average web page is, no less a text message to my son, an e-mail with a photo to my mother, or a quick check of Google Maps. That's part one of the trap. However, I now pay $40 per month for unlimited data usage on the iPhone, so really -- how much could it be? $100 at the most, right?

Keep reading.

As we know, the iPhone can't be unlocked to use a European provider's SIM card for more reasonable rates while traveling. There's part two of the trap.

To be safe, I went online to My Account at AT&T a couple days into the trip and again a week later and was told "usage data is currently unavailable"... and that's part three. I had no way of knowing specific usage data until I received my bill over the last weekend.

A bill for $3000.

Two weeks of travel with sporadic AT&T EDGE network usage off and on mixed with wifi when available... $3000.

Doing some research, I learned this morning that AT&T offers unlimited international data usage at $70 per month to its Blackberry customers.

Here's my bottom line: I want this same usage plan to be made available to iPhone customers and to be applied retroactively to my account.

Billing phone reps offered me a $400 "courtesy credit" on the $3000 charge if I would agree to sign up for a $300 per year international data plan with a max of 20MB per month. (I'm not planning any international travel for a while anyway, but 20MB would be burned in a day or two of average use - they must be kidding.) I have until August 14th to resolve this or all my family's phones (including my wife's business line) get disconnected. Obviously, there's no way I can pay $3000 for something so egregiously wrong.

I'm writing you in the hope that the exposure of my story might force AT&T's hand in admitting they have an inadequate solution in place for international iPhone users, that they've discriminated against the iPhone in favor of the Blackberry, that they failed to adequately disclose the exorbitant nature of their rate plan, that they kept me in the dark about my usage specifics until it was too late to modify them, and that by disallowing unlocking to use a European provider's SIM with more reasonable rates, I was trapped without knowing it until that $3000 "gotcha" came knocking at my door.

Thanks for your time, and please do not hesitate to contact me ( with any further questions.

Reader comment: Ryan Kerr says,

I love boingboing and have been reading it for years, but this is the first time I have been motivated to email one of the editor's. I manage an ATT dealership. We are not allowed to sell iphones because Apple's contract with ATT only allows ATT corpororate stores and Apple store to sell the iphone. Dealer's generally have way more experience than the kids in the corporate mall stores, and definetly have more experience than someone working in an Apple store that has never sold cellular products. The decision to not allow dealer iphone sales also forces people who do not live close to a corporate ATT store or an Apple store to purchase their phones over the internet. Any experienced Dealer would not have let this guy leave without an international Data plan.

p.s. someone who is a web developer should know how many kilobits different basic online tasks use, or at least have known that any per Kilobit charge will be through th roof.

P.S.S. The customer was probably charged more than the amount in his contract for Data roaming as the foreign wireless companies can charge whatever they please...

Jason Coyne says,
While I sympathize with Dave and his situation with the iPhone, part of the story really doesn't mesh. Dave has a career as a web developer, yet not know how large the average web page is, or how many bytes are in email or images. Page weight is a very important part of page design, and it seems unusual for him to claim he didn't know the amount of traffic he was getting.

Also, in comparison to the "verizon can't do math" stories, there was no misquote to Dave about the data rate.

Should AT&T offer the unlimited international data plan? Yes. Should they offer unlocking? Yes. Are they obligated to do either? No. Did Dave use the service, knowing he wasn't on an unlimited plan? Yes. Should Dave be responsible for his own actions? Yes.

The only part that mitigates things in Dave's favor, is that they didn't have a way to let him get his usage. Thats what he should focus on if he tries to pursue things with AT&T. Everything else was a voluntary choice he made on his own.

One other thing occurred to me. At $0.005/kb a $3000 bill would mean 600,000KB of data, or 600 megabytes (minus whatever his normal plan cost, so say $100-200 to be generous). 600 Megs is a rediculous amount of data to send over an phone connection with EDGE only, and there is no reasonable way you could get there in just browsing and email, unless you were sending and insane amount of attachments via email. The phone has no tether option, so the normal culprit of games and P2P sharing are not applicable. There could be some other issue at play, like each GPRS session being rounded up to the nearest 10k or something like that, which would vastly inflate his usage numbers, and that would also be an avenue for fighting the bill.

I did find a comment from Dave on a different website mentioning that he was misquoted on the price. ($.05 vs $.005) This is the same as the "verizon can't do math" story, and you have a good chance of having the bill reduced since they did misquote you. I highly suggest you read the "verizon can't do math" stories on the web, which will give you the right things to say to fight the bill (even though this is AT&T).

Anonymous says,
Felix was all over this a couple weeks back. The link details very precisely how the international data rates will hose you (regardless of who is a web developer).


  1. I searched the intenet and found this post.

    I was called by a close friend of our family a day ago, he received $2800 bill for data usage of the cell phones he just bought for his son and daughter months ago. There are still a thousand dollar for current month which is not billed yet. He didn’t notice AT&T’s previous two months bills, since they used Singulr before and the bill was in Singular’s envelope. Due to AT&T and Singular merge, now it is sent in AT&T envelope. They never went out of US in that time period. The most charges are coming from data usage. His son used the phone to google some information, of course cell phone is a interesting toy for a 14 year-old kid. He called AT&T to block all additional service now. I am searching internet to look for some help and advise.


  2. I had the same problem. I was in Canada for a hockey camp for two weeks. When we got back my bill was $400 for the first week and $2300 for the second. AT&T was nice enought to credit us $1000 but we were still stuck with a huge bill.

  3. We traveled to Jamaica last week on 09/08/07 through 09/15/07 with my new Apple i-Phone. Later today on 09/19/07 AT&T sent me a text message saying that my phone bill was very large and for me to call them.
    When I called them, I was told my bill was $2,405 that was charged last week to my phone for data that was apparently transferred to my phone unknowingly and authorized. Keep in mind that I could not make any phone calls on my phone because the service said it wouldn’t connect. So I left the phone in the charging dock and used it as an alarm clock and an mp3 player.
    I naturally challenged the data amount used since my wife has the exact same phone and she was charged only $161 for the same time period. They said they could not investigate this and that we owed the amount. Then they said that we could settle for half payment if we made the payment today.
    I said I would need to think about it and he said that if I didn’t decide right now that he would shut my phone off right now even though the bill is not even due until October 3rd, 2007. He then offered me a half off and said they would take $1,200 if I again settled today. Please help me I am being held hostage by these guys.

  4. Thanks for taking the time to read this.

    I went on an overseas trip and activated international data roaming on my wireless laptop card on 7/24/07 – it has been noted in the AT&T system that we called on 7/24. It is a flat fee of $139 per month. I confirmed the rate plan again this morning by randomly calling AT&T company store.

    We now got a bill for $16566.38 for data. And they have also added 6000 minutes for $299 to the same number. When I asked how do you expect to use minutes on a card in a laptop they had no answer. We are not able to get anywhere with AT&T customer support. Now they tell me that we have been charged a higher per KB as it is not noted correctly in the account.

    We are AT&T customer since 2002, we have over 35 lines and we have not paid our bill yet. I am seriously considering a move to Verizon sometime tomorrow. AT&T has been given timeframe until close of business today to resolve this. Please let me know if anyone can assist us.

    I can be reached on 408 805 0500.

  5. I was in bahamas 5 weekend days end of august, and checked email a couple of times a day, but left the iphone in the safe, due to lots of water sports with my kids. Dialed out 2 times to US. Got $470 data bill.
    I was using my blackjack 5 week days in europe in June, checked email all day every day – sent emails, texts, and power used all during the trip. The bill was $175.
    The Iphone uses too much data transfer, then does not even hold the emails resident on the handset, as they usually say – email data not downloaded when you go to read the email. You can see the header, but not the email. For all this data transfer not to see the data, then get a bill that is a whopper, Something is not right.

    I have yet to receive a credit from AT&T.

  6. I too have a tale of Iphone woe. I went to Egypt for 10 days with my Iphone and returned to a bill of $7000. Although I did use the data package, 75% of the time the page never loaded, and i figured it probably was inoperative. I’ve been arguing with ATNT about the exorbitant bill and have really gotten nowhere. The first time around I got to a supervisor, who was very condescending and uncooperative, although she offered $500 off. I then spoke to another person who said he would email his supervisor about getting 1/2 my data charges waived. $3500 is a TON to pay for 10 days worth of internet, and I feel that ATNT is price gouging here.

    I’m still in the process of negotiating with ATNT and considering legal action.

    If anyone has any advice or knows an attorney who has successfully dealt with these iphone complaints please contact me at Thanks.

  7. my problem is At&T cell charges that we have not made. the heading are– Data Transfer – Data Media Net Pay Per Use – Anytime – GPRR – Out. these charges are at odd times, very early morning times. we have not made these charges.
    At&T cust. svc. is of no help, they do not belive us. please, we only text. no picture transfer, no internet use. only text, our bill is 300. of pay per use. help please. thank you.

  8. Clara, did you happen to get any resolution. I am having the EXACT same problem! Let me know if you have had any luck and if I find anything, I will let you know. What phone do you have? I have a blackjack. Thanks so much!

    1. Kevin or Clara,

      Did you get this resolved? My husband has a BlackJack and we have several bogus charges for data usage, when we know we weren’t even awake! I will talk to At& T again tonight.

  9. I’ve just begun researching this problem after several frustrating conversations with AT&T. I bought a Nokia N75 hours before leaving for an overseas trip. It got shut off after 7 days (the bill was up to $2800 and I didn’t have a history of large bills, so they shut it down)they claim it is data use, I think Dave’s might be the last bill that they forgave?

    I will start my writing campaign, better business bureau, at&t, local news shows (Hey, it worked with Toyota when they refused to replace my waranteed engine!). I can’t believe that they know that this can happen and haven’t done anything about it!

  10. I can’t believe that there are so many people out there with the same story. Here’s mine:

    I left on Jan 2, 2008 for Hong Kong on business. I carried with me the Blackberry my firm provided for my use and my husbands iPhone as a ‘back up’. I wanted to use the iPod and take pictures with it.

    Imagine my surprise when I received a text from the Data Alert Center. I called the number and was informed that my current data usage on my line had exceeded my existing data plan. What? I didn’t understand. I had maybe used my phone once to make an emergency phone call (when my Bberry charge had died) and browsed the internet about once or twice (again for emergency purposes). I explained this to the person I spoke to at AT&T and she explained that this problem had nothing to do with the ‘phone’ but with the data. She then went on to tell me that I had accrued ‘x’ amount of data and that I had to pay for it…EVEN THOUGH I HAD PHYSICALLY DONE NOTHING. I’m no computer wiz or phone wiz so I was completely shocked and appalled.

    She told me that thus far (it was about the 23rd when I found all this out) I had accrued about a $2300.00 bill and that she couldn’t tell me what else would be pending. I freaked out understandably and she was kind enough to tell me how to turn off this automatic data download feature or whatever it is. I did so and had to make a horrible call to my husband to let him know what was going on. The very next day he (my husband) shut the service off knowing that I had my Bberry which I was using anyhow.

    Explain to me how something you don’t even touch, that is simply ON and is sitting in your purse, can cost you money? Where is the disclaimer in the contract that says they will do this to you? Why didn’t I know this?

    To add insult to injury, ever since I got home (last Saturday) my husband and I have been on the horn with AT&T to see if they can help us out. They opened a ‘ticket’ to consider our case. Amazingly enough, they tried us and found us guilty of usage without even hearing our side of it (though they assured us over and over again that they looked at all the ‘notes’ associated with our case). Tonight, I’m here writing this frustrated comment because the night manager, or whatever he is, told me bluntly that our case had been ‘denied’ and that we were liable for the full amount (in a rather condescending tone) thus far (which isn’t the full amount either) and that if I want for it to be further escalated, I need to write a letter. A letter?

    I’m at about at the end of my rope here. The money is outrageous but more so, this is pure highway robbery. I don’t think my husband and I would have a problem with paying the amount of something we actually did USE. And to be honest, we can’t afford to pay this ridiculous amount for nothing.

    Any advice, any at all, would be appreciated. Meanwhile I plan to write a couple of letters to the BBB and the FTC regarding this (since it seems rather common).

    I have to say, both my husband and I, customers of Cingular for several years, feel very let down.

  11. AT&T iPhone Roaming Charges $7,757.29
    I am a Cingular AT&T customer for the last 5 years with 2 family accounts including 7 mobile phone numbers for my wife and 5 kids. I switched my Mobile phone from Blackberry to AT&T iPhone first week of December last year just before leaving for a 2 weeks business trip to Israel. The iPhone was so slow in downloading my emails and in most of the cases failed to do so. The iPhone constantly checks back and forth for data until you lose your patient.
    Upon my return to the US, I have reported these miserable performances to AT&T store where I got my iPhone and the sales representative has told me that Apple iPhone are aware of the slow performances and going to come out with a new software revision to fix the slow download process. I called AT&T customer service to tell them about it and asked for the details of my bill in Israel; they didn’t have the details and said they will notify me as soon as they get it from Apple.
    10 days later, January 16th. I left for a 3 weeks business trip to the Fareast with my iPhone, hoping for a better performance. Guess what? It was the same never-ending downloads.
    A week later my wife called my hotel and told me we got a bill of $7,757.29 for my roaming charges in Israel. I switched immediately the roaming button on my iPhone to “off” and asked my wife to wait for my return to discuss it with AT&T customer service. My wife spoke with AT&T and they promised to check the roaming charges and even reduced it by $938. The next day my wife went to the AT&T store to complain and been told that the notes on the account says it is in a “Review status” and we should wait a couple of days. On January 29th AT&T disconnected all 7 phones including my iPhone without any prior notice by phone, email or letter. I was caught and trapped in Mainland China snow storm without any way to communicate by emails or mobile phone.
    I have returned back to the US on Feb 6th and called the AT&T customer service. They told me that Israel is not on the list of roaming countries and I should not have used it there, I asked her to log on AT&T web and see for herself, it clearly says Israel is included and support the iPhone; Click to view the link:
    In anyways, they refused to answer my question, why they have decided to close my 7 mobile lines even before my bill was due, and never warned us before doing so. I asked to talk to their legal department which they refused to refer me to, and said only my lawyer could do so.
    My advice to all businessmen traveling in the US and overseas, forget about the iPhone Gimmick, and stay away from AT&T. It doesn’t work for us, Switch back to BalckBerry; there is nothing like it!
    Damage Resulting
    I was using my iPhone for my business and was trapped in the snow storm in China without my emails and mobile phone; missed 2 important meeting, tones of emails and phone calls. My wife and my 5 kids were left without any phones to communicate between ourselves.

  12. Ok these are my thoughts:

    Mr. Dave is obviously lying because

    * ANY web designer in the world knows how many KB are on a webpage and how much its aprox being transfered

    * He later mentions “20 MB that can be burned in a day or two” Huh? Woops, I thought you had no idea about any of those KB stuff….PLEASE!

    And by the way, are you gonna tell me that you were not aware of the “TURN OFF DATA USAGE WHILE ROAMING” feature on your iPhone? BS!

    I’m so tired of people making their own mistakes and then blaming on someone else. Of course I’d be bleeding through my nose if I get a $3k bill, but that is never going to happen because I’m not going to call in later saying “I didn’t know” “The rep didn’t explain” = C.R.A.P

    And, my last cent, is that INDEED AT&T is an armed robbery, but in reality there’s nothing else to do :-)

  13. @benzehavi – follow the link that you, yourself posted. On the right side of the line where it says Israel there is a link to the details of the rates and coverage in Israel. $2.49 per min. roaming in Israel, and the data rate is $.0195/KB. All that Y/Y tells you is that your phone will work in that country, NOT THAT THE USAGE IS FREE! Use common sense and intelligence people. International rates are always more, and never free.

    I have an iPhone and I am an international traveler. It amazes me how many people didn’t take the time to read the rules which are not hidden, and then complain.

  14. I traveled to Barbados and got a $3.5K bill from AT&T for data usage in Jamaica. Not only is Jamaica about 1000 miles from Barbados, but my alleged data usage was 176,389 KB and supposedly it was done at 2:30 am when I was most definitely sleeping. I checked my last bills and I have never before used so much as 30,000 KB in a month while on the iternet constantly during my 2 hour daily commute. So, ATT has got someone either hacking into their system, or they have major issues with these foreigh carriers trying to suck them for money. AT&t is passing it on to their customers. I called them 4 times, talked to customer service and fraud. First they said that Jamaica is right next to Barabdos and I was picking up Jamaican towers. Then they said it was a crossed wire and there is nothing they can do. They reduced my bill to over $1k and refuse to do anything else. I will cancel my service call a lawyer if they don’t refund my money. On second thought I will cancel even if they do refund, just for wasting my time and giving me such a headache.

    Lesson to be learned: Do not use your internet able cell phone overseas. You will have problems!

  15. To Jason Coyne specifically,

    Just to clarify, my mistake if someone else noticed and replied, No time to read all comments…but..

    “One other thing occurred to me. At $0.005/kb a $3000 bill would mean 600,000KB of data, or 600 megabytes”

    That’s taken too literal. The main charges incurred are from international connection and roaming fees to secondary network providers.

    I don’t think so;“I did find a comment from Dave on a different website mentioning that he was misquoted on the price. ($.05 vs $.005) This is the same as the “verizon can’t do math” story”

  16. Well, I just ask about buying a datacard to use in a laptop with my unlimited AT&T iPhone dataplan & was told that is not possible (via putting the iPhone Sim in the datacard) that I must buy another unlimited data plan. I’m like what??!!! Why do I need 2 x infinity?!

    Anyway, although it must be said US business, especially ‘communications’ businesses are obscenely and repulsively greedy most of those charges are coming from the foreign provider.

    It’s a fact that renting an automatic transmission auto in Europe will cost you thousands more than renting a manual transmission. They do that knowing most Americans have never even attempted driving a manual transmission car. Luckily I did & could so & so rented a manual although I hate the inconvenience of fiddling with that junk.

  17. Signed up for an international data plan and traveled to London and Bucharest/Romania. While in Romania I incured charges as if I was in Moldova which is not covered by the international data plan (Moldova is not a country with a discounted data plan).
    I was nowhere near Moldova…in fact, there were about 200 miles between where I was and the Moldovian border. Even so, ATNT argued that the charges were valid because (they say) I traveled close to the Moldovian border… How could this be? It’s like saying that while in LA, my phone connected to a Mexican tower…
    Anyway, I will not use my IPhone internationally again… it appears that it’s not safe from what I’ve experienced and from the number of posts I read.

  18. I am disgusted with ATT.
    Before I signed up for the IPhone service, I called to inquire about charges. I asked endless questions to a very reluctant sales representative who disclosed rate information with great difficulty. I was told that roaming charges for data transfer were $.005 per KB for overseas travel but the salesman was unable to tell me how that translates into for e-mails, attachments, etc.
    As a comparison, the Blackberry compacts data so you are not charged an arm and a leg for data transfer when traveling overseas.
    In addition the charges for using the phone when traveling were very high as well.
    I decided to turn off the data transfer feature before I boarded the plane for Europe and once I got there, i would not answer my phone calls or make any calls. In order to get to my voice mail, I turned off my cell, called my cell # from a landline or Skype and retrieved my messages. When I got back in the US, I got a big bill charging me 99 cents per call although the phone was turned off and I was calling from Skype or a landline. I called ATT and was told that even if the phone is turned off, you are being charged when you call your mail box from overseas, even from Skype!! The ATT customer service representative told me to leave the phone at home when I am traveling because even if it is off, it gives out a signal that you are overseas. You can then use a landline or Skype to call your Iphone and get your messages and be charged the same rate as for domestic calls.
    Now my question is the following: if we can’t use the IPhone for data transfer (emails and Internet) or the phone service when we travel, why the ! should we buy the IPHONE if we can’t use it overseas for anything???
    Using the BB overseas proves to be more reliable and without bad surprises.

  19. The iPhone via AT&T is still a REAL RIP-OFF overseas. To avoid a horror story like those above, I was about to agree to buy an expensive AT&T overseas data plan (on top of what I’m already paying for data in the US) when they said that even with the plan I should keep my phone off as much as possible. That’s because of the voice roaming charges. If you’ve got the phone on to use the data (access the internet) AT&T charges $1.99/minute for voice roaming, EVEN FOR CALLS YOU DON’T PICK UP AND VOICEMAILS YOU DON’T LISTEN TO.

    And AT&T’s customer service is still every bit as bad as people say; I spent 50 minutes on the phone being bounced around from department to department before I could get the facts on the overseas plans. I’m seriously considering returning the iPhone before the first month is up and going back to Verizon.

  20. For those “not using data” and still get roaming charges, the visual voicemail aspect of the iphone downloads your voicemails to the phone, thus using data.

    AT&T does offer several international iphone data plans. The international blackberry plan mentioned above, requires a 1 year commitment. The internatioanl iphone data plans do not require a commitment

    Regarding the voice charges for the person who used skype to call voicemail. I highley doubt those charges were for using skype. They were likely charges when people called and you didn’t answer and they left messages. Once you turn your phone on in another country the phone registers on their towers, and stays that way until you re-register it on another country’s towers. Any calls that come into the whether they are answered or not are charged for international roaming. If the caller leaves a voicemail, you are charged for the length of the voicemail also.

  21. Maybe next time you should try leaving your cellphones at home if you don’t have an international plan or something to help you avoid thousands of dollars in phone charges. And I’m surprised that people are surprised that a cell phone company would give you the bum’s rush.

    Everyone knows there is no such thing as a “good” cellphone company. Just like there are no “good” politicians. You just have to pick the best from the dreck.

    Try skype next time.

  22. Ya know, the bad mouthing here is offensive in itself. I feel bad for the people who unwittingly were charged for the “phantom data usage” etc. I did note that the phones involved were higher end phones and that the “phantom charges” appeared while they were traveling overseas. The reason I am posting is because I have a cheapo freebie ATNT phone and I was also charged “phantom usage” while I was within 100 miles of the state I live in (in the US). I was DEFINATLY sleeping while the $25 in charges were made. I noticed more “phantom usage” while I was sleeping at home…in my coverage area. The “home” charges were substantially less than while I was out of state but still, no actual usage occurred. I have the EXACT same phone for a second line and I have never had trouble with it.
    Can anyone explain this to me?

  23. Please help me. I got 28K $ from at&t. I live in the US. I took two mobile connections under family plan. One is thru iPhone and other one is using other phone set. Last month, I exchanged the SIM cards in these phones. As I had unlimited data plan in one connection, I thought that there would not be any problem. Further, I didn’t get any call or mail from AT&T at that time when I did the same. Recently, I got a call from AT&T mentioning that I am not supposed to exchange the SIM cards. Please suggest me what I should do now.

  24. iPhones use data constantly. The stock ticket alone accesses the Internet every three minutes.
    1mg=10 emails give or take.
    I use less than 50mgs a month and I am on my phone for one purpose or another constantly.
    ATT only advertises nationwide calling and data. If you are traveling internationally you need to educate yourself before your trip and have the necessary packages added. It is your responsibility as a consumer to do so.
    Canada and Mexico are not extentions of the US. They are different countries.

    Your sim card has your phone number and feature packages attached to it. You can use it in any phone your carrier recognizes. If you use a different sim in an iPhone you need to let ATT know so they can adjust your features, otherwise YOU are responsible for the charges you incurr.

    Stop taking it upon yourself and ask you salesperson questions. They are there to support you. Don’t assume. Be smart folks, it’s easier to askthe question than it is to get their customer care to give you a credit!

    Good luck folks!

  25. If you have a dispute with your wireless carrier, file an online complaint with the FCC. It is a very quick and easy process.. it takes only minutes. You will get a prompt response from your wireless carrier theying to resolve the problem. They take FCC complaints very seriously. I have resolved a couple of disputes this way and have had disputed charges removed competely from my bill. Good luck!


  26. GPRR Charges In Your Phone Bill

    You need to review your phone bills. ATT is ripping people off. If you have purchased a phone like a black jack, blackberry, any type of PDA that has internet access, it will charge you a ridiculous amount of money, even when you don’t use the internet. The phone supposedly goes onto the internet by itself to find new updates and it charges for data transfer. Also, multi media messaging is considered data transfer therefore it uses the internet, so it as well charges, even though multi media messaging is covered under your plan. I’m considering a class sue against AT&T. If this has happened to you please join this discussion.

  27. All the people who have phones or data plans need to keep good records of their international travels and the excessive charges from AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile. If there is a lawyer out there who could fight for us without charging an exorbitant fee to each subscriber, please let themselves be known. International roaming should not be included in any service, phone, or data device as the charges are too steep and no one can afford to pay them or wants to pay them.

  28. This is a class action law suit waiting to happen.

    My husband just came home from 2 weeks in Canada to a $3800 data roaming usage fee. FYI- BUSINESS CUSTOMERS CAN BUY AN UNLIMITED INTERNATIONAL DATA ROAMING PACKAGE FOR $69.95! If you are not a business customer you cannot get this plan. The best you can get is a $200/200 MB package, but you will go over and you will pay ($15/MB, and no reasonable way of determining how many megabytes you may be using when you go to google maps, or take a photo and email it to your friends, or Twitter, etc…).

    This practice will not hold up if challenged in a court. It’s only a matter of time before someone takes them on. In the meantime, fight them with everything you’ve got and see if you can get them to take responsibility for their misleading business practices. They may knock something off your bill. They did for us.

    This might help… remind them of the tag line from their website:

    “ATT Customer Satisfaction. Great Value, Peace of Mind, and No Surprises”.

    By hitting people with these exorbitant usage fees for international data roaming when they get back from their vacations or business trips, ATT is not keeping any of those promises to their customers.

  29. $350 for using my iphone google-map in Vancouver B.C. for two days. I live in Seattle, less than 3 hours away. They agreed to reduce it to $30 after two lengthy phone calls. What a scam.

  30. Went to Europe for 2 weeks in September 09. I added the 50MB plan to my phone iphone. I used it for receiving work e-mails, calls to the US and for locating individuals within our traveling party. My bill only ended up being $207. My husband took his eye phone and used several apps, including the subway app. He placed the phone on airplane mode when we left Miami and kept his phone in the airplane mode the entire two weeks and he didn’t incur any additional charges whatsoever.

  31. I have traveled to the UK many times and have always used my cell phone. Every time I come back I regret having used it. On my last trip to London I rented a Smartphone with I paid local rates and it came with a free Internet package. I recommend it.

  32. Please Help, I am going on a cruise next week and I am throughly confused. I am trying to figure out how to affordably stay in contact with my children (grandmothers watching them) Every time I call AT&T I get different information, half the time I am told that the Bahama’s are considered part of US for phone service purpose’s, the other half I am told its roaming at a rate of 1.99 a minute. I was also told if I rerouted all incoming calls straight to voice mail, that it would never go to my phone first therefore there would be no international roaming charges (wait I though it was part of the US)
    NEXT PROBLEM DATA: I signed up for a 50GB plan just for the duration of my cruise, I created a new email, just for the kids and I to communicate and am planning on deleating my regular email for the duration of the cruise just to protect myself from spam email eating up my data plan. I want to be able to keep my phone on so I can email my kids, but if I do this will the Blackberry curve keep looking for Data if I keep the phone on? I swear I have called AT&T 10 times and I get different information everytime. I know people out there have some answers and I really need help, Thank You

  33. How did Dave do it? Did he have to stay on the phone for hours on end as I did and then only get (convenient for them) cut off? Who did he finally contact to resolve this. I hate AT&T and think a class action lawsuit should be filed for misrepresentation and even fraud in the sale of their merchandise……….

  34. Boingboing reader Dave,
    I just read your story on ‘boingboing’ about your experience with the iPhone and int’l data usage with a $3,000 bill .
    I had two $1,000+ AT&T horror stories on trips to Australia, one two week trip and the other a one week trip. A third trip I kept my phone in airplane mode. On top of those trips, I recently took a two week trip to Europe, and have $250 in extra fees on top of the $120 I spent for the 100mb data package and international calling. Each trip I learn a little bit more about AT&T’s plans.
    There are several bait-and-switch techniques, or employee misunderstands, being used by AT&T.
    Bait-and-switch Technique one is to tell costumers to turn off their data plan and international calling plan as soon as they get back, in which case their data plans are ‘pro-rated’, and they only get partial credit for what they pay for and an exorbitant bill for what doesn’t get credited. One should only turn off the international calling plan and only the data plan on the last day of the month after they get back and pray that the international bills all come before then.
    Bait-and-switch Technique two is to tell the costumers that they should leave their data plan on until after the end of the month, so that they get full credit for their data plan usage, only to find that they are billed for two months of the int’l data plan in which case the plan is NOT pro-rated.
    Bait-and-switch Technique three is that the international data roaming for text messaging is NOT included in the international data plan and you are charged extra, and that is not made clear.
    Bait-and-switch Technique four is that if your trip falls between two different billing cycles your ONE month plan is credited for only the first month of the billing cycle and you have exorbitant billings for the second month. For example if you go on a two week trip and the first week occurs in the last week of January and the the second week of your trip occurs in the first week of February, your second week doesn’t see any of the data plan applied to it, and the first month you only get one week of a pro-rated month, or about 1/4th of the 100mb that you requested to use.
    Bait-and-switch Technique Five is that you are told that your data usage can be tracked on the iPhone under settings & usage. But that is not a correct tracking of your usage. That usage number does NOT include the text message data roaming amount! I reset my usage and took an i-phone screen shot precisely when I got on the plane before leaving the U.S and then precisely when I got on the plane just before leaving Europe. I made sure that my usage was under 100mb. But I actually used more because of the text message data amount which was not included in my data tracking.

    When one gets the bill and you to complain about it to customer service, a mediation call is scheduled, but that person seems trained to maximize AT&T’s profit. One has to call several different people to get the bill resolved. In all instances, I finally was able to pay an extra $100, or so, for the text message data usage and have the other charges dropped.

    Perhaps I am confused about some of the above, but if I am, it’s not my fault, as I have only used this service on 4 different international trips, and the fine print is not clear about any of the bait-and-switch techniques used above. It seems that AT&T is being selective in their favor of when and when not to apply credits. AT&T has made a small fortune off me, and I can only imagine what this self-maximizing monster is sucking out of all the other int’l users, and what it will suck out of the public with its new domestic data usage plan. Does anybody know how many MB a European map location search is, in some cases I noticed 4mb? Yikes don’t get lost in the maze of fine print or any of those foreign streets.Clinton Pearson

  35. I just had a vacation in Indonesia for over a month. I have turned my iPhone on because I wanted to use its iPod feature as well as web browsing by using wifi. I cannot connect online without the wifi, therefore I am assuming that I am not using an AT&T service at all. Yet suddenly, they sent me a text saying that I should call +1-916-843-4685 to review my usage bills. Little did I know that when I received my next bill, AT&T charged me by $3,078.00. It’s quite a lot of money.
    I have tried contacting the AT&T customer service trying to get this ridiculously huge amount of money off my bill, yet the customer service is extremely unhelpful and keep on citing the same thing over and over again–about how much Megabyte I have used, how much dollars per Megabyte it was, bla bla bla. I wasted half an hour with them keeping me on hold most of the time. If AT&T is a sincere and honest company, there is no way that they would not know if someone IS NOT AWARE of the situation they are in. What is the point of waiting until I incur $3,078 in my bill? Why couldn’t you guys told me this earlier? When I talked to a supervisor through the phone, he is equally–if not more–unhelpful. He told me that had I called when they sent me a text, I would have been able to reduce the bill by a LOT. The thing is, I DID NOT KNOW THAT IT IS GOING TO BE $3,078. And I was on vacation! Frankly I have never even heard of such a ridiculous charge over phone bills–not untilI researched online and find out that there are thousands of people having the same fate as I do. I cannot even go online without a WIFI during my stay in Indonesia. What service is AT&T providing me when I was abroad, exactly? Had they sent me a text stating that I would get charged by $3,078, I would call immediately.
    Does it simply mean that AT&T can rip off thousands of dollars from people who do not call earlier? What is the difference it makes, does AT&T think that people who opted not to call before the bill comes out gladly pays thousands of dollars for services that do not exist?
    I am extremely disappointed with AT&T’s ridiculous policy on this, as well as their customer service. I hope somebody who actually cares about the customers can contact me and help relieve or eliminate my bills. My email is Otherwise I might have to pursue this matter legally, or get as many publication I can get–all the efforts which certainly worths less that $3,078.

  36. I went to germany for 5 days and my bill was $1,668. I had payed for the INTERNATIONAL 50GB data use and calling plan for 9.99. My bill did not make sense because at 9:28pm it said i used 8,750 KB=$170. and on that same day same time frame 9:28 pm i used 14KB=0.27 for VVM call. I payed for 50 GB of internet use and it didn’t even work half the time. I kept struggling with the internet i come back and its 1,668!!!!! for 5 days! I called them and apparently i will be called from a correspondent from ATT. i don’t even have that to pay,im just starting to be on my own im a very responsible person always on time with every bill but i know i cant pay this one and i dont want my credit to bad if i dont pay this. What to do what to do?

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