AT&T socks me with over $400 of international data roaming charges!

I recently went to Zurich for a week-long business trip (training developers on Jive Clearspace). I knew I'd need to use my iPhone for a variety of reasons, such as email, web access, chat, and google maps.

So like any responsible employee I went into the AT&T office and spoke directly with a rep about what international data plans I'd need to purchase, and how much it would cost me.

I bought a 100 MB data package for $129.99, and paid a $5 international plan that brought phone calls down to $.99 a minute (otherwise they'd cost me $1.29 a minute). I reset my iPhone usage before boarding the plane, and watched it like a hawk the whole time I was there.

Here's what it looked like as I stepped off the plane at the Chicago airport for my connecting flight, on October 25th:

Figured I couldn't have cut it any closer, but was only about 5 megs over the limit, give or take a few megs that might not have been reported by then (although it was a 10 hour flight, so it should have been pretty accurate by then).

That next day, AT&T calls me to let me know I had a bill of $2350 from my data usage! I calmly explained that I had purchased the data plan and after a little digging and keyboard clicking on their end they were able to find that I had indeed bought the plan and only owed for the 14 MB of overages and owed about $54 extra for those kilobytes.

I wasn't sure where they came up with 14 megs, but the $54 didn't sound to outrageous and so I let it go.

Fast forward a week to November 1st. I go online to check my bill and find that they've tacked on $460 of data roaming charges. They're calling them mobile-to-web "calls" and told me I must have been in an area where roaming charges applied.

I went back and forth with them over it, explaining that I was never told to look out for additional roaming charges, and in fact was told that the international data plan would cover me for data usage through my iPhone.

AT&T finally agreed to split the bill with me, and apologized for the sales rep who didn't explain the plan well enough to me, and also pointed me to their online documentation - where they claimed it spelled all this out in clear detail.

So beware if you're traveling internationally with your iPhone!! Yes, the features are great and the google maps locator in particular saved my bacon several times. But you WILL SPEND a lot of money if you use it while traveling abroad, and I'd think twice about using it unless you absolutely have to.

Hopefully you'll learn from my mistake after experiencing this first hand, and please spread the word if you know someone who will be traveling abroad with their iPhone.

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I'm very happy to report that AT&T has adjusted my bill with a $441 credit!

It took a few phone calls, and some persistence/insistence, but they finally agreed to create a special review case for it and did the right thing.

It turned out there was a 3 day delay in the reporting from Zurich to the US. Since I purchased the plan the day before my trip, and then cancelled it the day I returned, it looked from AT&T's perspective that I had purchased the plan 3 days into my trip and then cancelled it 3 days after my trip.

After they reviewed the charges and looked at the time I had actually signed up for the plan, they could see the 3 day delay and shifted the charges accordingly.

The moral of the story: it still will cost you a lot of money to use your iphone internationally, but if the bill comes in with an obscene amount then be sure to challenge it!

Hey Rick.

Good to know about your roaming charges with AT&T. I had a similar situation happen with Verizon earlier this year with my 8830. It took forever to get free long distance included with any phone -- we can only wait and see when competition gets us free data too.

Have you had the chance to check out the new Storm? I'd be interested in your take before I make any decisions on making the splurge.

My name is Thomas Kearney and I am an investigator for a class action law firm. We are looking to contact anyone who has had issues using an iPhone international data plan outside of the United States or knows about the issue and would like to participate in a class action law suit against AT&T. Please contact me at tkearney@ucsc.edu without hesitation.

Hi Thomas,

I had much better results with AT&T on my recent trip to Cologne, and the sales rep I spoke with was kind enough to let me know I needed to back-date the service to coincide with my billing statement date (otherwise I'd end up only getting partial credit for the 100 mb per month, which is pro rated depending on where you're at in your billing cycle).

It also helps to sign up in advance of your trip so that there's time for the change to be configured correctly.

What part of the process is under investigation for the class action suit?

Hi Ricky,
The part of the process that I am investigating is ATT's requirement for customers to keep their international data plan for up to three months after they return from their trip. Their reasoning is that since the bills can be delayed up to three months, due to foreign carriers, customers will be charged with whatever plan they have at the bills arrival. this means that even if you had the plan while you were abroad, you can get charged per use if you cancel the plan by the time the bill comes. If you know anyone that this has happened to, or who has any information about this, I would be very interested in speaking to them. My number is 213 473 1900, my email is ttomk40@gmail.com, and my name is Tommy Alexander Kearney.

Thank you

I used the iphone built-in maps application after a 3 hour drive from my home in Seattle to Vancouver B.C.

I was surprised to receive a text message over 30 hours after coming back home that I was going to be charged over $15 per megabyte. I believe their communication of this was intentionally delayed and poor in order to maximize the charges. They know not many would use the data roaming if they knew the cost could be so insane.

Their map application does not let you know how much data it uses. The user cannot time themselves to monitor their usage.

After 2 long phone calls they agreed to remove most but not all of the charges.

I'm certain many others are not as persistent and end up paying the outrageous bill.

Can one buy an Italian SIMM chip with voice and data plans to use in one's iPhone while traveling in Italy? I did that with my RAZR a few years ago. Wouldn't this avoid the outrageous charges for map and other data usage?