International Roaming

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by slcoss, Jun 17, 2016.

  1. slcoss macrumors newbie

    Sep 3, 2008
    Ok, so I came to a problem with my mobile service provider.

    So the short version is this:
    In January we called our mobile service provider to ask about international roaming to a specific country. This company has service in that other country (under the same name), and since my parents know nothing about KB or MB, they asked to have a limit of $40 dollars so as to be able to call and have internet while on vacation, but as soon as they've used up their "additional charges allowance" the service would cut off. The provider agreed and the limit was set.

    So my parents go on vacation and had internet during 3 days from the 7 day trip, only to come back and discover that they were being charged $1500 dollars for 300 MB of data usage (mostly data from Mom using Facebook to upload the one or other picture).

    So I've been trying to fight this with the provider, but they allege that they cannot do anything when the services of a third-party (operator in the other country) were used. The thing here is that we were using the same operator, but in a different country. They also said that there was no way for them to limit our services when we were using other operator's networks, and that there is a delay from the point we use the other provider's network, to the point where they receive the info of what we used.

    To this I say that when we specified that we were going to this other country, and that we wanted to establish a limit to use for international roaming, we were never about this delay or how they cannot enforce the limit while on the other network.

    So does anybody here know about this? I've been trying to find some info but nothing concrete. How much time does one provider need to tell the other one about the usage? Is that not done automatically and instantly? If not, I really do have a hard time believing that in our modern world. If it is, how big is this delay? More than 48 hours?

    Also, if the operators work under the same name (but in different countries), are they considered a third party?

    I'd appreciate anyone who can enlighten me on this topic. Thanks!
  2. AustinIllini macrumors G3


    Oct 20, 2011
    Austin, TX
    Unfortunately, it's kind of a "lesson learned" type thing. It sucks it has to be this way, and while a number of companies want happy customers and to forgive for the mistake, wireless companies aren't it.

    Always, always, always buy factory unlocked when you can and get a SIM from a carrier in the country you are visiting. There's really no better way to make the most of travel with your mobile phone.
  3. Macky-Mac, Jun 17, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2016

    Macky-Mac macrumors 68030


    May 18, 2004
    Since it's likely a separate business organized to operate under the laws and regulations of the other country, it's actually going to be a different company that runs its own operations independently of the carrier in your home country.....a "third party" in other reality using the same name doesn't mean all that much.

    unfortunately just because it's technologically possible doesn't mean they're obligated to do it that fast.

    one would think the home carriers would be more upfront with their customers about what to expect with international roaming charges........but unfortunately they're not.
  4. Tech198 macrumors G5

    Mar 21, 2011
    Australia, Perth

    Big bucks spend for something i'd avoid in future..

    My home phone bill was that much at one stage too ...:)

    I would only use Wi-fi only if i'm traveling international. or better yet,, don't use it....

    I think it's kinda stupid that the best/only way would be to get a local sim for the countries u are going to... or universal sim (if possible), just to try and bridge a gap. when there are other alternatives if u can live without a phone for a trip.

    alternatively, maybe only use data when u absolutely need it, not when u want it.

    For example, checking Facebook is not a "need" in all situations.. Prioritize..
  5. slcoss thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 3, 2008
    Yeah, it definitely is a hard lesson learned, but how much are we really to blame for? As I stated, we did call 2 months in advance and asked for this $40 bucks allowance for international roaming and they agreed and told us that they registered that in the system (and also later confirmed by other operator agents), they never told us about possible restrictions or how the limit would not work.

    hmm, yeah, but then how much time is needed then before they detect that you exceeded your quota? i mean, what is the "standard", i was reading about International Gateways and can't find it.

    Yeah, it is something we won't do ever again, and I agree that Facebook is not a need (it definitely wasn't for mom), but they just wanted to spend $40 bucks to upload some pics for the family and so, whether they had internet for a week, a day, an hour or just 15 mins would've been our problem, they never thought that after talking to the provider and agreeing on some terms, they go and stab you in the back... sigh
  6. Roller macrumors 68020

    Jun 25, 2003
    I generally agree, though it's worth noting that voice and/or data are often more of a need than a luxury when traveling, whether it's to change or confirm reservations, navigate, obtain medical assistance, or whatever. Of course, one can get by without these things, as we did before mobile devices, but that doesn't mean that we should. The traveler's age and other circumstances play a role, too.

    I've found that renting or purchasing a local SIM is the most cost-effective approach, especially compared to the exorbitant roaming fees my carrier charges. I hope that this will improve over time.
    --- Post Merged, Jun 19, 2016 ---
    How have you escalated this with your parents' carrier? I would call their retentions department. Agents there are often able to accomplish what others can't. Even if they aren't able to apply refunds for the charges incurred during the trip, they may offer other things in partial compensation.
  7. slcoss thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 3, 2008
    We've called and emailed a thousand times, but to not much luck, they say that they'll look into that, but then they say that they are charging what was consumed. This was going for 2 months.

    There's a consumer protection agency here, so I've filed a report because I read all through my contract and nowhere does it state about how the limits we set don't work in other countries, all it says is that we can get charged extra for things not in our plan UNTIL we reach our set limit, which I hope will help us get at least a partial refund.

    What I think will help us fight our case, is the call that we made two months before our trip, we specifically mentioned roaming in Guatemala and that roaming was the reason for the limit. Had we not called and specifically asked for this question, maybe things would've been different as we would be to blame for our ignorance.

    That's why I was asking about the time they need until they notice my roaming calls, get maybe a bit of hard evidence regarding international agreements between carriers.
  8. Woofski macrumors newbie

    Jul 5, 2012
    I work for a company that sells international SIM cards (GO-SIM, in case anyone is interested), and we're always on the lookout for these kinds of stories. I've seen many over the years, and about the only thing that really seems to work with networks like these is if you go to the press. It's not going to be an easy sell, because while $1500 is a lot to you and your family, it's not exactly earth-shattering when compared with other stories of this nature, so you're not going to make the national news. (There have been stories of a mother being charged $20,000 because her kid was playing online games while abroad, another with a family living in Florida and Canada being charged outrageous amounts because of roaming text messages. The record-holder is a guy who was charged $150,000 because his card was stolen and cloned during a flight to Australia)

    I'd suggest you contact various consumer advice sites, essentially with a letter exactly like this forum post. Many local newspapers run a consumer advice section, and this would be a good place to start. If you get a good one, there's a chance that the site or newspaper will contact the provider to ask a few questions about your specific case, and then you're really in business. Because now an outside media agency (doesn't matter how big or small it is) is asking questions, and that could lead to bad publicity. If the telecoms company gets even the slightest hint that they're (quite rightly) going to be portrayed as the evil corporation in this story - especially because their terms and conditions are deliberately confusing (which they are), the chances are they'll get in touch with your folks to offer a reduction. It probably won't be the full amount, but it will probably be a decent percentage. Then your story in the paper will contain the lines "We reached out for an explanation from X provider, but while they didn't give us an official comment, they do say that they have made a goodwill refund of Y%, and are looking into where their system broke down".

    Unfortunately, I can't think of any other way of getting your money back, but if you get lucky with a website, you may stand a chance. Good luck!

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