Being billed for FaceTime data?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by nshady, Jul 14, 2012.

  1. nshady macrumors newbie

    Jul 14, 2012
    So please forgive the complicated circumstances here. I'll try to break down the individual bits. I am an Australian travelling Europe using the OneSimCard travel sim. I was in a public hotspot using FaceTime (over Wi-Fi, obviously) with my iPhone 4S, and it suddenly cut out. I tried to text the people I was chatting with but discovered that somehow it had drained my last $40 of credit. I was definitely in Wi-Fi because obviously the FaceTime wouldn't be available otherwise.

    It didn't click with me what happened and I just recharged it with credit using the Wi-Fi access as I'd need it for my trip anyway. FaceTime then worked again. However, when I later checked the sim card balance I had been slugged with 38MB and 58MB transactions and my new credit balance was down another $60. $100 on data in the space of fifteen minutes. It seems damn near impossible to me since I am very careful to only use 3G when absolute necessary.

    Is it possible that the sim card/billing system could think that because I'm "calling" a contact it needs to charge for it? Is there a reason why FaceTime is being deducted as data even when in wifi? The support desk at OneSimCard told me that "your phone can not determine using one connection over the other if both GPRS & WI-FI options are enabled in this case the phone was using GPRS as well." They also said a background process (Photo Stream, auto downloads or something) could be responsible. I'm pretty sure that's rubbish as I know the iPhone prioritises Wi-Fi over cellular for exactly this reason and if I can be having a FaceTime chat all that background traffic would also be on Wi-Fi. They're basically alleging:

    1. FaceTime was initiated in a wi-fi hotspot.
    2. Simultaneously, and despite being in wi-fi, and contrary to the iPhone's programming that prioritises wi-fi over 3G, a rogue background process during the call did an automatic update or something and downloaded 37MB worth of cellular data.
    3. The sim's credit is used up, and coincidentally the face-time call ends.
    4. I check the credit and am able to refill it on the website recharge page because I am still in wi-fi.
    5. Once credit is returned I am able to resume FaceTime over wi-fi at which point I then also resume downloading 58MB of data but over the air instead and apparently in the background.

    The fact that I could recharge my phone credit at all indicates there was nothing wrong with the Wi-Fi. Never mind the fact that I apparently downloaded the 58MB in just three minutes according to the bill, which is blisteringly fast for cellular data (and probably better than the adsl I get at home)!

    Is there something I'm overlooking? I had a friend who said that last year he discovered Telstra (Aus carrier) had mistakenly charged him for FaceTime data so I believe that it can happen. Has anyone heard similar, and have any advice?
  2. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    That's really interesting, because given that you're supposed to be using WiFi, the FaceTime call shouldn't end when your credit is used up. Nor should it use cellular data at all, at least not until iOS6 comes out.

    Is your phone jailbroken? Is it using iOS6 beta? Just ruling out the obvious things first.

    Technically, if the person you're calling is registered with iCloud, you should be able to initiate a FaceTime call with them without having to do a voice call first. This is how non-3G iPads, Macs and iPod Touches are able to FaceTime. Can you try putting the phone in Airplane Mode, then turn on Wifi to connect and try the call?
  3. nshady thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 14, 2012
    Thanks for replying. I am not on ios6 beta nor jailbroken. I did not have cellular data off, which was probably naive but I guess since I was in wifi and, you know, it's FaceTime, I was complacent.

    I just tested airplane mode with Wi-Fi on and was able to make a FaceTime call without any trouble.

    To me that points to either FaceTime being logged, which I had heard can happen as my friend experienced it first hand, or vague background process X that decided to download 60MB over the air in 3 minutes.
  4. nikot macrumors newbie

    Jul 20, 2010
    Forgive me if this sounds idiotic, because I don't know if the carrier network decides you can't facetime over cellular, or the phone itself does, have you tried making a facetime call with only cellular data on and wifi off?

    Just curious to see if that will work.
  5. Comeagain? macrumors 68020


    Feb 17, 2011
    Spokane, WA
    Until iOS 6 comes out, the phone itself will not FaceTime someone unless there's a wifi connection. This is assuming you aren't jail broken, or running an iOS 6 beta, as those can possibly allow a FaceTime call over 3G.
  6. nshady thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 14, 2012
    No, if you try to call just on cellular it says you need to be in wi-fi. Got this lovely response from OneSimCard:

    "What application on your phone used data is irrelevant to the charges. This is your phone not SIM card that move data. We just a media. For data to be moved your need to activated the data in you on-line account as well as program the phone with APN. You did both. At this point there is absolutely nothing we can do to issue a credit. We have warned you about high cost of using data.

    The policy you agreed to is stated here:

    We understand your frustration. However, smart phones do things and you as the owner of the phone is responsible for whatever charges incurred either you intended to do this or not."

    Thanks for completely ignoring my questions about whether they'd actually tested their system on a 4S to map the data usage, whether it was possible they could be logging the call as data usage, and how it would be possible to download 60MB in three minutes. Very frustrating outsourced response.

    So, anyone got any ideas anyway about what might be happening? At the end of the day I had $100 of credit just evaporate in 15 minutes and if there's a data leak I want it plugged if it's somehow independent of the sim service.
  7. infinity12402 macrumors member

    Jun 15, 2012
    theres definitely something wrong with this picture. even if you did or didnt download some 58mb of data, why are they charging you for it anyway if you were on wifi? no matter what was happening, in the background or not, you shouldnt be getting charged for something when you were on wifi. i would definitely continue to call them or email them until they help you out
  8. dave420 macrumors 65816

    Jun 15, 2010
    I don't really have any input as to what could have happened, but it sounds like you are being billed almost $1 per MB. If that is the case then you should turn off cellular data unless you really need it. I have an iPhone for work, that I don't use that much for apps or anything, and wifi is available when I am at home or work. It still uses a couple hundred megabytes of data a month. Can't explain what it is doing all the time, but if I was being billed a dollar a MB then cellular data would be off.
  9. nshady thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 14, 2012
    Yeah, I appreciate that. I'm traveling, though, and there are certain times when I need it. I will have to leave it off by default now though. Thanks.

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