Beware of International Roaming Charges, Or You'll Be Sorry...and In The Poor House


Let this serve as a warning to all readers about the dangers of unexpected international roaming charges. Heric Silva shares his experience and illustrates why you need to keep an eye on your iPhone while traveling overseas.

I recently went to Europe for 9 days. I used my iPhone over there and it seemed to work very well. I received my bill the other day and it was over $1200, yes $1200. When I had my Treo I usually get a bill for about $400 to $500 when I was in Europe. Now the problem is that the iPhone does not have anyway of controlling the amount of data you receive, unlike the treo where you can limit the amount of email data you download and giving you the option to download the rest if you like and letting you know the size prior to downloading it so you can see if it is worth the money. When I used my iPhone and press any of the applications that require updating to retrieve stock, weather, email or whatever it get hit really hard on the $ per KB international roaming charges. Also the email client does not store the downloaded/viewed emails it always has to pull them down from the web so even if I already looked at it it would download it again and incur roaming data charge!

This is a major flaw that will cost users a bundle. Why do they bother to give you 8GB of memory if they don't even use it for email storage and downloaded files. The iPhone is essentially an iPod with a phone and the phone portion is very limited.

I called AT&T to complain and they said "sorry these are all legitimate charges, give Apple a call." I have called them but I was on hold for about 45 minutes so I gave up and will try again. I think they should pay my bill, their poor design causes the users to incur unnecessary data charges.

This flaw should be made public and they should re-reimburse all users that have incurred these massive charges.

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Reader comments

Beware of International Roaming Charges, Or You'll Be Sorry...and In The Poor House


I am going to Europe in three weeks. Is there a way to disconnect the edge network, while still having the iphone on? Or do I need to keep the iphone in the airplane mode, except when I want to make a call while in Europe to avoid the data billing issue

Just turn off the mail accounts and do not click on the weather, clocks, maps, youtube,stocks buttons and you should be fine.

Actually, I've heard that even doing what Heric recommends won't keep it from connecting to the network. I have heard the suggestion that you call AT&T and put your data plan on hold or suspend it or whatever the wording would be while you're gone. Otherwise, get a cheap AT&T phone and put your SIM card in that. Good luck!

Per Heric's recommendations, I put the e-mail in manual mode and did not use the other programs for a 14 hour period. there was no data usage during that timeframe. Thus, I do not beleive that there is "data leakage" on the iphone.

"unexpected international roaming charges". Why are they unexpected. I challenge a single person to produce a coverage map that highlights any other areas outside the domestic U.S. (AK, HI) or Puerto Rico. You can bet your sweet/dumb ass that Prague isn't listed. Also, if you "let 'er ride" and then complain then you deserve come what may.

Many others phones have the similar problem and especially blackberry or any device connecting to microsoft exchange....
For instance, I went to cambodia for two weeks with a french phone working on edge. It was not working in Cambodia since onbly GSM was supported....but every 30seconds, my phone was trying to download emails...
I received a bill of 3500€ (that is 5000$) for one month whereas I did not download anything ( but at every reach, 200kbites were charged)....
For the Blackberry, it is teh same.
You have two solutions:
-call your operator and ask for a foreign datas exchaneg service ( it will divide the bill by 1000 even if it is expensive)
-you desactivate the datas exchange (possible via your operator)
It is not specific to iphone. SOme phones have functions ti limit the datas downloaded but on the Iphone, it is quite useless since is was created for illimited datas.
Nevertheless, a little add-on on this model, easy to create, could be available in a short time.

Hi Heric,
How have you been? I googled you and thought that this is the only way to get back in touch with you! Hope to hear from you soon
Lisaa Di Gioia

UHURA! From Star Trek! I admire you greatly. Your the best actor. I wish you would reply to my comment on your problem with the 'roaming'. Let me tell you something. My iphone is so bad it doesn't even work in Europe! I called AT&T and they said they were fixing the network!!!! So, if I was in danger and had to call police or something............ At&T responded : 'oh well that's ur problem not ours. Lieutenant Uhura... you probably should like the video I am making on about you. Please email me back or look at the video on YouTube and comment it that you saw it. Please promise me! So bye! PS My username for YouTube is Blucz1996 . Thanks From Tom!