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11 September 2009 @ 10:39 am
AT&T iPhone international roaming  
So we got Kate's iPhone bill for the month including our trip to Canada. We knew that using the phone in Canada was expensive and she'd been sparing in her use of it, but I was wondering how much they'd charge us. (I carefully monitored my use of my Verizon Treo and kept it down to about $12 in additional charges, but the Treo's not as data-hungry as the iPhone.)

The bill included $114 in data roaming charges. (!!)

Fortunately, I'd seen a blog post in the last week or so, with the subject "Goodwill", talking about a similar situation -- the poster had made a weekend trip to Victoria BC and managed to rack up a $300 bill. When they called AT&T to complain, they managed to talk with a phone rep for like an hour before the rep happened to mention "oh, there's this thing I could do that would knock that charge down to $25." The poster was saying that treatment like this will cause AT&T to lose customers in droves when the iPhone is finally no longer exclusive to them, but thanks to that post, I knew to call AT&T and ask for that retroactive change.

It took quite a while -- the rep I got was ignorant but very helpful -- but I did eventually get that $114 charge reduced to $25. The magic incantation is "Data Global Plan" and you can find more information about it here: http://www.wireless.att.com/learn/international/roaming/iphone-travel-tips.jsp. You can be sure I will check back next month to make sure we don't get charged the same $25 every month going forward.

So the only remaining question is: who was that masked poster? I've Googled all over and can't find the original post.

ETA: An anonymous commenter tells me that the original post was here: http://zzzorg.blogspot.com/2009/08/how-to-lose-customers.html. Thanks to The Zorg for letting me know this option existed! If not for that I would have just sighed and paid the $114.

scottedelmanscottedelman on September 11th, 2009 09:46 pm (UTC)
I'd heard so many horror stories of people returning home to find bills of thousands of dollars that I didn't use my iPhone in Montreal at all, and relied entirely on wifi.

Not sure what I'll do for Australia next year.
thecrimsonythecrimsony on September 11th, 2009 10:34 pm (UTC)
I just read a story (not blog post) about this and couldn't tell you where I read it. I remember the iPhone specifically being a problem because it's always looking for access points and updates.
Kate: tigerkateyule on September 12th, 2009 06:39 am (UTC)
always looking for access points and updates

Which is why I kept the throbbing blue "You are Here" dot OFF, and auto-check email to OFF, and "enable data roaming" set to OFF except during the sporadic minutes I was actively using it.... and did all my LJ surfing sitting in the badly lit hotel lobby where I could get wifi.

Apparently that was not quite enough.
Andrewcarnwrite on September 11th, 2009 11:59 pm (UTC)
When I was in Germany, I deliberately left the data roaming off (by default) on my iPhone 3G to ensure I didn't get any horrendous data charges. For phonecalls I called AT&T before the trip and arranged for that international roaming plan to be added at $5 / month. Unfortunately I didn't find any free Wi-Fi access points!