iPhone User Incurs $3,000 Roaming Charges from AT&T


Dave Stolte had a nasty surprise in store for him, upon returning from a trip to Eurorpe (with his iPhone) - a $3,000 bill from AT&T. It seems David learned the hard way that AT&T does not offer international roaming with its iPhone data plans.

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.


Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!


← Previously

CoolGorilla.com Offers Talking Universal Translator for iPhone

Next up →

David Adams Chronicles His Month With iPhone

Reader comments

iPhone User Incurs $3,000 Roaming Charges from AT&T


ATT get with the program...TMOBILE offers unlimited intl plan for $20.......
THis is a consumer rip off.....There should be an unlimited INTL plan for iphone without a 12 mos contract....

Tell your friend with the 3000.00 dollar bill to challenge AT&T on the bill. They'll reduce it. There has been massive confusion by AT&T customers and AT&T is trying to avoid getting into trouble because their paperwork doesn't indicate roaming charges for data.

Had the exact same issue...$1500 for 2 weeks in Manila. I had transferred my # from Cingular on a blackberry. I do alot of international travel, so I had the international data/voice roaming and thought this was being transferred over. Turns out...NOT. I had even asked specifically when going through the activation process to ensure I was getting comparable add-ons like this when moved to the iPhone. I am in the process of appealing these charges and have thus far been marginally successful. I will post back and let you know when/if they back these charges out. Early adopters always take the heat...

I got a $ 2300 bill for roaming on the data plan in canada (vancouver). I call the international deptartment and clearly asked about setting me up and charges for roaming. I was never informed about the ENORMOUS amount that could be easily charged. I got a call back and they said they would reduce the data portion; about $1400 by $ 523.00. I'm pretty disgusted. TRying to go back to have the amount completly reversed.

Just got off the phone with ATT rep. She knocked my $427.00 Int Data roaming charge in half without any fuss. I probably could have gotten more but wasn't up for the fight. I used the iPhone/Google Maps to find my way around London for a week. Also checked email every 15 minutes. I think they will be changing they're policies on this very soon.

Investigator for leading class action law firm wishes to speak with iPhone consumers who do not receive full satisfaction for their roaming charge complaints.
Steve Ellman (561) 310 0781. Sellman@csgrr.com

Your not kidding. My boss just went to London for a few days and to Africa on Safari for about 10 or 12 days, about 2 weeks travel all-together. Just got the roaming bill for over $3,000. Not only that, he was not on the phone much. It seems that his iPhone downloaded data (1, 10 MB email was over $200) everytime it was in range of a tower. Would love word of a class-action lawsuit for this.

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.

I ran diesel fuel in my Kerosene heater and burned my house down. I didn't know I couldn't do that.
Oh boohoo. I noticed Mr. Genius gained all sorts of amazing research and analytical skills AFTER he got his bill. Congratulations, you just invested $3000 dollars in learning what a kindergartener knows, ASK AN ADULT!

Every wireless carrier should require a literacy test for every customer before providing service. Wake up idiots, international use of wireless service is expensive no matter which carrier you have. This isn't breaking news... Its equally expensive for the wireless carriers to allow you to make and receive calls and transfer data while roaming. ATT negotiates its rates for making/receiving calls and the cost per kilobyte of data transfer with each carrier in each country individually. So when your checking to see if your stocks are up or what the weather is like back home while on safari, the carrier that ATT negotiated with (to allow you to stay in touch on your holiday) charges ATT for your usage. The charges then are applied to your bill. Then you come home, get the mail from the neighbors and have a panic attack that those emails that couldn't wait. So you call up ATT and blast the first rep that was unlucky enough to pick up and hold a conversation with your ignorant self. That rep then applies a credit for your usage. What you may not know is that ATT still has to foot the bill to that wireless carrier for the usage YOU incurred.... thats essentially like taking out a loan from the bank for 1000 dollars to help a friend out, after the money is spent, your friend refuses to pay you back... think the bank will continue to do business with you if you don't come up with the money? So ATT loses money for the usage you incurred. The amount of capitol lost this way is staggering. So to make up this loss in profit, the rates go up. Wireless service is a business folks, if the company doesn't turn a profit then it cant afford to invest in nifty gadgets like the iphone that you cant live with out or expand the network so that you get an extra bar of service at the summer cabin in the middle of nowhere. Common sense... In closing, its YOUR responsibility to investigate what the cost is of using your phone internationally. ATT provides resources to answer these questions on their website or by calling customer service. There are ways to reduce the cost of international roaming but its the users duty to pro actively request the changes in service required to bring down the cost, not the company. So wake up and stop acting like a kid with a limitless credit card. Your cell phone requires the same respect.

That is not the issue. The issue is the deception.
Most people do not know that their iphone sends and receives data even when you are not actively on email or a browser. I spoke to ATT before the cruise and no one told me that. OK granted its my responsibility to know that but how would I? All ATT has to do is pop up a notification if high amount of charges are posted. ATT sent me such a message after my phone had run up $900 in charges!! If you think this is not intentional I have a bridge to sell you. This is a criminal organization masquerading as a corporation. I have had many similar issues with ATT. The executives are getting filthy rich by stealing money from us.

Also, the roaming charges are just artifically inflated. No way does it cost $20 per megabyte for data

My bill was $3,200. AT&T knocked it down to $1,700, then told me if i signed up for the international data plan, it would go down further. So i signed up on October 4th. My phone service was suspended on November 3rd. I have been on the phone with AT&T for the past few days. They told me that the $1,700 was the reduced rate after the international plan, but I was told that I owed $1,700 3 days before I signed up for the international plan. So I pose the question to the customer service "prefessional" - why would I sign up to pay more money if I knew the cost would not change?
To make a long story short I cancelled my AT&T service. There is no way I'm giving them another dime.

I have a better idea, go ahead and unlock your phone. Jailbreak it, then stick a T-Mobile SIM in it with your 20/Month unlimited international data plan, you can even pick up local SIMS as you travel and save more money like that. I'm a huge APPLE fan but this money making model is horrible and very M$FTish... changes need to come, i suspect they will. I purchased my phone overseas, came unlocked and jail broke for around 600USD.. I love it but refuse to play into a payment model unless its fair and balanced with other ones...don't rape me cuz I want to use an Iphone...the data is exactly the same as that on a N95, its not like they need a back end like BB... ok... good night

Dear Wake Up Call . . .. easy for you to say, AFTER the fact, that WE users are stupid. When I bought my iPhone in JULY 2007, when they had just hit the shelf, I was about to leave for extensive travel, and, KNOWING that my previous phones were expensive to use overseas I specifically asked the AT+T rep who set up my service if I could use my iPhone to TRANSFER/SEND data and photos and surf the Internet while in Norway, Russia, Finland and England WITHIN the $20./mo. data-transfer package. . . .UNLIMITED use, and the AT+T rep said, "YES". I asked if he were sure, and that I was buying the phone to USE overseas, and again the rep said that it was UNLIMITED overseas with the $20. extra fee on top of my regular monthly cell phone services. When I returned home to the U.S. the charges started coming in. It took over a month for all the charges to be posted to my account. The total was over $3,500. Of course I got on the phone with AT+T, and when the recording said, "This call may be recorded", I asked if my call had been recorded when I set up the account, and I was told that all calls are recorded. "That's great news", I said, "Please listen to the recording from my July conversation where I set up the iPhone service, and you will hear that I specifically clarified that using the iPhone to send photos from Europe was 'unlimited for the $20.'"
AT+T agreed, and so far most of the charges have been removed from my account.
NOW AT+T has posted international use info on their web site, and their sales people have been trained to explain the overseas use, but that was not the case when the iPhone was first sold.
I like most of the features of my iPhone but I feel ripped off now that I can't use it in Europe. I'm leaving for Paris next week and will have to keep it turned off and hope that no one calls me when I turn it on to check WiFi or to take a picture, because if anyone calls me while I'm in Europe and the message goes to voicemail I WILL BE CHARGED a roaming fee, and there is NO SWITCH to turn off the phone. . . . .. APPLE. . . I HOPE YOU ARE LISTENING.

Hey folks, a tip when taking your iPhone international. If you still want to use the other non-communicating features like iPod and photos and not worry about getting reamed on data roaming, just turn on airplane mode. You won't have WiFi, though. Maybe a future s/w update will allow you to turn off only GSM (although AT&T might have a problem with that - $$).

I just got back from London and Oman. Before leaving London, I got a text from AT&T warning me that my data usage was high. I didn't take it too seriously because all I did was check e-mail. When I called them a few days later, they said I had $1000 of charges and offered to start me on the data plan retroactively. The good news is that they contacted me. The bad news is that the data plan (now at 50MB for select countries only - pay as you go everywhere else) is completely inadequate for regular use. Be grateful that AT&T is being moderate proactive, but be warned that 50 MB is a couple of days of very casual use.

I turned off my iPhone and took a BlackBerry for data when I went to Hong Kong, but AT&T still found a way to extract more money.
I was in Hong Kong with an AT&T BlackBerry earlier this month and had their Unlimited International Data plan for $80/month.
When I returned home last week I switched it to the US Unlimited Data plan for $50/month because I was not going back to China for a while. When my bill came today I was charged for International data by the megabyte during some of my time in Hong Kong.
When I called AT&T they explained I was billed that way because their roaming partner posted the charges this past week (when I was off the International Unlimited plan). AT&T said I should have retained the International plan for 60 days after returning home because they refer to my plan for billing, not when the data was actually consumed, but when the charges from their parters are received and that can occur up to 60 days later. So when the charges came through this past week, they saw I was not on the International plan and billed me as such.

I took my Blackberry to Carribean, but I did not use it at all. Rogers (Canada) over-charged me 75mb+. The bill was 4000$. I called them and told first agents hat I will not pay (so I get to next supervisor). They did not call me back (so I used that to my advantage to get all interest reversed). Then I got to talk to suprvisor for wireless dept. (after presenting my legal arguments he quickly said "half credit off". I said that is a good start BUT I want his manager to call me to discuss it further. He called and offered me to be charged in regular nationwide rate (7$/mb) instead off international rate of 0.05$/kB. That was about 550$ (from 4000$). I am still considering going further but at this stage I am not freaking out anymore since this bill is acceptable.

What was your legal argument? I'm going through the same crap now... A notice was put on my bill to challenge my international use by 1/16, guess what my bill doesn't come out until 1/20...so what am i to do with a $3K bill for data charges. What a rip-off!!!!

please forgive me, but i needed some input quickly and could not figure out how to start a new thread. I have an iphone given to me for christmas...been on travel and did not open until today. i hear a new version is coming out this year (soon?) and wondered if it is better for me to return this and wait for the new one. I would need to return the current one today in order to get a refund...any advice from the experts who have this phone? thank you.

AT&T - 3 Days in Norway on their broadband wireless card, $22,000.00
Thankfully this is someone at a company who incurred these costs, the battle continues as to why even if you were online for 72 hours (which this user was not) it would still cost $7,300.00+ a day.
Be careful.

Anyone travel with the new "switching off" Data Roaming option as of yet? We are about to go to Europe for a few weeks and I was going to do this, but with the bills everyone is talking about I am wondering if it is worth the risk.

Our family went on a trip for 8 days to the Bahamas. My brother had the new iPhone 3G and I told him and made sure he turned off both data roaming and the push feature for data. On top of that after turning off push we set the fetch system for data to manual. He did not access any internet or other applications that use data and yet he was charged with a bill of $3700. I did the same thing and was charged with only $20.

I got my phone unlocked from www.cellunlocker.net for only 15 bucks in 10 minutes and stuck my tmobile simcard ($20 unlimited) in there, currently im in China and works great...I even get maps...
does anyone know if any company offers unlimited roaming for voice calling? I heard tmobile offers this servie, and I called them and they said no...but I've seen it around before..weird!

I can top that!! Just returned from two weeks in the Caribbean and met a $12000.00 data bill from AT&T. Three I-phones went and only one incurred all those charges. On an island we never even visited or got near!

Im an English man living in Slovakia,i went to Berlin for a weeks relaxing holiday,5 days into the holiday i got an SMS saying that i owe 750 Euros from roaming charges, i admit i took 60 pictures and added them to an Aplaction called EARTHSCAPE.
I also checked my E-mail a few times, and thats it, when i went to the Orange shop they said that it was almost 2 Euro per MB, IM NO COMPUTER WIZZ but is it possible to spend 350 MB for just so little use????????????????

Can someone please clarify for me. I just called ATT and they said that if i added on the 20 dollar charge that it is unlimited international roaming. IS THAT TRUE or do you incur charges on TOP OF THAT? What is it with these 3K bills?!?!

Hey wake up call,
so why not tell the truth and share you work for AT&T or you have invested in their stock, roaming is very profitable even for unlimited plans because they limit and monitor all off network usage, so how are we the iphone user who pay dearly ripping off AT&T? Again how long have you been a worker for them?

Between me and my wife we've owned more prepaid credit cards over time than we can total, including Ready, Greendot, etc. But, the last few years I've found that one is the best for are family AccountNow Visa. Why? Because I was happy to discover how well-designed and child's play to use the underappreciated (and widely mocked) AccountNow Visa's are.

Anyone that is unsatisfied with the international data plans of the iPhone, please contact me or the firm that I work for, in regards to a class action law suit on this very topic.
-Tommy Kearney tkearney@ucsc.edu (818)259-9946
Ringler Kearney Alvarez LLP

If you are travelling to Europe www.fonmigo.com rents local smartphone and mobile wi-fi modems. If you are an iPhone user and want to take you iPhone, a mobile wifi is the solution to your roaming problems. Mobile wifi gives you wifi anywhere in Europe at amazing rates.

This is probably one of the better posts I have come across on this subject. Have you considered the other side of the subject of travel tips? Personally, I think a decent case could be made either way, but let me know if you have any more sites on the Web to verify what you are proposing.

Goodday: My Greetings to you in the name of the lord,
I am Ms Karen Barclay of Loan Company From Malaysia.We are government approved and certified lenders.Our company do offer loans ranging from personal to industrial loans to interested persons or companies who are seeking for financial aid at a negotiable interest rates as low as 3%. Opportunity to clear your dept,start or boost your business with a loan from our company.so apply for a loan now. Interested persons should contact us via this email addresses; finder2009.karen991@gmail.com Please for more information.
1)Full Name:....................................
6)Marital Status:...............................
8)Phone Number:.................................
9)Currently position in place of work:..........
10)Monthly income:..............................
11)Loan Amount Needed:..........................
12)Loan Duration:...............................
13)Purpose of Loan:.............................
You will be glad of knowing a loan lender likeMs Karen Barclay because i will
make you smile and be happy.
Thanks and GOD Bless,
Ms Karen Barclay

Thank you for sharing superb informations. Your web-site is very cool. I'm impressed by the details that you have on this weblog. It reveals how nicely you perceive this topic. Bookmarked this internet page, will come back for extra articles. You, my friend, ROCK! I located just the details I already searched all over the location and just could not come across. What an excellent internet website.

Hey very cool web site!! Man .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds also…I am happy to find a lot of useful information here in the post, we need develop more techniques in this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . . .

I got my phone unlocked from http://www.htcsimunlock.com for a few bucks in 10 minutes and stuck my tmobile simcard ($20 unlimited) in there, currently im in China and works great…I even get maps…
does anyone know if any company offers unlimited roaming for voice calling? I heard tmobile offers this servie, and I called them and they said no…but I’ve seen it around before..weird!