The $3,000 iPhone Bill

TXCraig

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 2, 2007
507
6
Houston, TX
From BroadbandReports.com

http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/The-3000-iPhone-Bill-86241

The $3,000 iPhone Bill
Where's the $70 international plan Blackberry users get?
01:38PM Tuesday Jul 31 2007 by Karl
tags: wireless prices business AT&T

AT&T has a $70 plan for BlackBerry customers that offers unlimited data throughout the world, but iPhone customers get no such plan. They're instead charged by the KB when they wander internationally, which adds up quickly if you're traveling abroad and not paying attention. A user writes to Boing Boing to note he suddenly found himself with a $3,000 data bill:
"Billing phone reps offered me a $400 'courtesy credit' on the $3000 charge if I would agree to sign up for a $300 per year international data plan with a max of 20MB per month. (I'm not planning any international travel for a while anyway, but 20MB would be burned in a day or two of average use - they must be kidding.) I have until August 14th to resolve this or all my family's phones (including my wife's business line) get disconnected. Obviously, there's no way I can pay $3000 for something so egregiously wrong."
He wants the same $70 usage plan Blackberry users get to be offered to everyone and applied retroactively to his mammoth bill.

Update: Looks like the guy in question has received a full refund from AT&T, with an apology for any "miscommunication."
 

mkrishnan

Moderator emeritus
Jan 9, 2004
29,777
12
Grand Rapids, MI, USA
Update: Looks like the guy in question has received a full refund from AT&T, with an apology for any "miscommunication."
How can such a power user blithely use hundreds of megabytes of data services internationally with no idea what the subscribed plan did and did not cover?

I guess it makes sense for them to refund him if he's staying with them... but... you wouldn't get a plan without weekend minutes, use 3000 extra weekend minutes one month, and then complain that someone on some other plan, for which you were not even eligible to begin with, has free weekend minutes and you want them retroactively.
 

scaredpoet

macrumors 604
Apr 6, 2007
6,627
342
Normally I would say something like: "Just goes to show you, you can be as irresponsible as you want to be, as long as you have nothing better to do than sit at your keyboard all day and rant about it in every discussion forum you come across. :rolleyes:" And I almost said it here.

HOWEVER, the iPhone does have one potentially financially-disastrous flaw: you cannot turn the data off without turning off the whole device. The iPhone, by its very nature is frequently pulling in data all on its own, checking e-mail, and updating its widgets. In fact, I'm hearing mine cause my speakers to faintly buzz right now, even though it's ostensibly locked and "sleeping," and SHOULD be connected to my WiFi router anyway. This is perfectly fine in the US, where you can download all the data you want and only pay 20 bucks. But this poses a HUGE problem when roaming internationally.

The iPhone probably should have an option for a "no EDGE" mode when it senses it's roaming internationally. This way a roaming user who just wants to use the iPhone as a voice phone overseas could do so, and only use data when WiFi is available. I imagine that for some reason AT&T would rather people use EDGE all the time when they're in the US, but it shouldn't be hard to insert a condition that enables this option only when outside of the AT&T network. The phone ALREADY knows what network it's on, it should be easy to tell it: "when not on AT&T, give users this option."
 

robvia

macrumors member
Jun 13, 2007
42
0
^^^
Great post. I'm going to the UK this Friday from the United States and wanted to use my iPhone over there. I realize it's $1.29 a minute to call the USA with each text message sent being 50 cents.

But now that you say the data will happen no matter, that means I'll have to find a way to turn off e-mail until I'm near a wireless connection.

I might call them and say I don't want to pay for any data usage up front on the Edge network overseas so they can note it in my file.
 

TXCraig

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 2, 2007
507
6
Houston, TX
I agree that someone should check before they travel to see what the costs are, but there is something that should be addressed by Apple and/or AT&T reguarding this matter.

Apple needs to put switch on the Iphone to turn off ROAMING data. That way, you can still use your iPhone for calls, SMS, and Ipod without running up the data part. I had this feature on my SideKick and it worked very well.

AT&T needs to come up with better pricing on its international data plan.
 

Le Big Mac

macrumors 68030
Jan 7, 2003
2,590
166
Washington, DC
HOWEVER, the iPhone does have one potentially financially-disastrous flaw: you cannot turn the data off without turning off the whole device. The iPhone, by its very nature is frequently pulling in data all on its own, checking e-mail, and updating its widgets.
That seems like a pretty significant "flaw" that AT&T needs to think about correcting before they have a number of $3000 bills they're working on. While obviously the OP knew the ground rules, pretty sure he wasn't expecting that much use. AT&T needs either to come up with a plan like for the BB or a way to shut off access. (BTW, anyone think they don't have a plan in order to preserve US exclusivity and prevent int'l customers from using?)
 

diamond.g

macrumors 603
Mar 20, 2007
6,361
317
Virginia
That seems like a pretty significant "flaw" that AT&T needs to think about correcting before they have a number of $3000 bills they're working on. While obviously the OP knew the ground rules, pretty sure he wasn't expecting that much use. AT&T needs either to come up with a plan like for the BB or a way to shut off access. (BTW, anyone think they don't have a plan in order to preserve US exclusivity and prevent int'l customers from using?)
Why would AT&T need to correct the inability to turn off (or at least prompt when using) data when practically every other device has it (along with a no roaming option)?
 

iscripter

macrumors member
Jul 18, 2002
86
0
Data usage flaw

HOWEVER, the iPhone does have one potentially financially-disastrous flaw: you cannot turn the data off without turning off the whole device. The iPhone, by its very nature is frequently pulling in data all on its own, checking e-mail, and updating its widgets. In fact, I'm hearing mine cause my speakers to faintly buzz right now, even though it's ostensibly locked and "sleeping," and SHOULD be connected to my WiFi router anyway. This is perfectly fine in the US, where you can download all the data you want and only pay 20 bucks. But this poses a HUGE problem when roaming internationally.

The iPhone probably should have an option for a "no EDGE" mode when it senses it's roaming internationally. This way a roaming user who just wants to use the iPhone as a voice phone overseas could do so, and only use data when WiFi is available. I imagine that for some reason AT&T would rather people use EDGE all the time when they're in the US, but it shouldn't be hard to insert a condition that enables this option only when outside of the AT&T network. The phone ALREADY knows what network it's on, it should be easy to tell it: "when not on AT&T, give users this option."
I think all data capable phones on all the US phone carriers are that way. At least they are on Sprint my previous phone carrier. There was no way for you to turn off the data capabilities of the phone if you only wanted to use it to make phone calls. Also they bundle lots of data applications with the phone like IM, email, streaming video, etc... Unless you know exactly what is included with your plan/contract it makes it real easy for the carries to make extra money on peoples lack of knowledge about cell phone plans.

The number one complaint about the cell phone industry people have is with billing mistakes. That's why I switched to AT&T from Sprint they royally screwed up my plan when I made a simple switch to a new phone and was forced to upgrade my plan because of the new phone.
 

wongulous

macrumors 6502a
Dec 7, 2002
952
0
Man, people need to learn to read contracts, rate plan details, and THINK about what they're doing before they do it. Obviously you can't get free internet everywhere. :rolleyes:

This isn't a consumerist issue, this is a just-plain-dumb issue and the person whined enough to get out of it. They'd better hope they don't mess up again, because they likely won't eat those kinds of cost twice on a single contract/customer.
 

TXCraig

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 2, 2007
507
6
Houston, TX
Man, people need to learn to read contracts, rate plan details, and THINK about what they're doing before they do it. Obviously you can't get free internet everywhere. :rolleyes:
This is a hudge issue to anyone that travels internationally. Right now, the way it is- I would leave my iPhone at home and travel with a regular cell phone as there is no way to turn off the data portion of the phone. Would some of the functionallity of the iPhone stop working without the data? Yes it would. But with this very high roaming rates you really can't operate this phone as intended internationally.

By the way- My iPhone bill was 178.00 last month.. so the internet on my iPhone is not "free".....
 

atszyman

macrumors 68020
Sep 16, 2003
2,437
1
The Dallas 'burbs
In fact, I'm hearing mine cause my speakers to faintly buzz right now, even though it's ostensibly locked and "sleeping,"
The speaker buzz could very well be just checking in with the cell tower, not necessarily edge access. My phone will cause my any speaker to crackle whenever it checks in with a cell tower. I don't use any data plans on the phone, and I've never been charged for the data.

I do agree that there needs to be a way to tell the phone that you don't want it polling email/checking for updates when you are roaming internationally. Some people may just want to use it as a phone when abroad and if there are auto-updates that cannot be halted it's hardly their fault for their data usage if they're not firing up the web applications.
 

scaredpoet

macrumors 604
Apr 6, 2007
6,627
342
The speaker buzz could very well be just checking in with the cell tower, not necessarily edge access.
I'm aware of that. In this case however, the "new mail" tone shortly thereafter gave away what was really going on. :)

Besides, one who's been around GSM/EDGE phones awhile can rather easily pick out the difference between the short tick-tick-tick-tick of a registration request, and the tick-tick-tick-brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr-brrrrrrrrrrr-brrrrrrrrrrrrr-brrrrrrrr! of something more involved.
 

KYBOSH

macrumors member
Jun 2, 2007
64
0
Wasn't the advent of the internet (and WiFi) supposed to kill the high cost of telecommunitcations forever????

I am sure the guy knew he was racking up roaming charges of a few hundred dollars by being international with his iphone but a few THOUSAND is a little out of control.
 

sprague

macrumors newbie
Aug 3, 2007
3
0
My iPhone Charges

Wasn't the advent of the internet (and WiFi) supposed to kill the high cost of telecommunitcations forever????

I am sure the guy knew he was racking up roaming charges of a few hundred dollars by being international with his iphone but a few THOUSAND is a little out of control.
MAYBE THE GUY DIDN'T KNOW, BECAUSE I DIDN'T KNOW EITHER!!!

Soon after my iPhone purchase, I went to Calgary to see family. I new if I used the internet, I would probably get a roaming charge. I showed some family members and was charged $44.91 for 2,994 KB. More expensive than I thought it would be, but I expected the charge. **** BUT BEWARE, what I didn't know is that I was charged anywhere from $.12 to $1.88 about every 8 to 12 minutes. The charges are 24/7 and so I received a $535 bill. I was only in Canada for the weekend, so I can see how someone that maybe spent a week in Canada could easily receive a $3,000 bill. ****

I did know I would get roaming charges for data that I used, but I didn't know I needed to shut my phone off or I would be charged every few minutes. You can bet I will be on the phone with AT&T in the morning!
 

sonictonic

macrumors 6502a
Mar 25, 2006
935
0
Central Coast, California
MAYBE THE GUY DIDN'T KNOW, BECAUSE I DIDN'T KNOW EITHER!!!

Soon after my iPhone purchase, I went to Calgary to see family. I new if I used the internet, I would probably get a roaming charge. I showed some family members and was charged $44.91 for 2,994 KB. More expensive than I thought it would be, but I expected the charge. **** BUT BEWARE, what I didn't know is that I was charged anywhere from $.12 to $1.88 about every 8 to 12 minutes. The charges are 24/7 and so I received a $535 bill. I was only in Canada for the weekend, so I can see how someone that maybe spent a week in Canada could easily receive a $3,000 bill. ****

I did know I would get roaming charges for data that I used, but I didn't know I needed to shut my phone off or I would be charged every few minutes. You can bet I will be on the phone with AT&T in the morning!

Keep us posted!

Oh, and to the OP, you really need to change the title of your post to say "AT&T Bill" and not iPhone bill. This is NOT a problem of Apple or the iPhone! I'm tired of people ragging on this awesome device just because AT&T has its issues. If you're gonna blame, blame the right damn person! :rolleyes:
 

Gonzlobo

Suspended
May 9, 2007
344
0
Albuquerque
AT&T needs to enable their dataplan section on their website. I've tried to query my evdo use, but it has never worked. The guy is still a dum bass.
 

Sobe

macrumors 68000
Jul 6, 2007
1,791
0
Wash DC suburbs
MAYBE THE GUY DIDN'T KNOW, BECAUSE I DIDN'T KNOW EITHER!!!

Soon after my iPhone purchase, I went to Calgary to see family. I new if I used the internet, I would probably get a roaming charge. I showed some family members and was charged $44.91 for 2,994 KB. More expensive than I thought it would be, but I expected the charge. **** BUT BEWARE, what I didn't know is that I was charged anywhere from $.12 to $1.88 about every 8 to 12 minutes. The charges are 24/7 and so I received a $535 bill. I was only in Canada for the weekend, so I can see how someone that maybe spent a week in Canada could easily receive a $3,000 bill. ****

I did know I would get roaming charges for data that I used, but I didn't know I needed to shut my phone off or I would be charged every few minutes. You can bet I will be on the phone with AT&T in the morning!
ouch. Remind me not to go to canada.
 

LanikaiGirl

macrumors member
Jul 6, 2007
58
0
You CAN Turn it off

You have to get your PUK number and then add a sim pin to your phone. You can set it up so that you can lock your SIM card and it requires a password to be active. It leaves the iPhone still available for wireless and iPod features though. I did it today because I am going to Italy soon and I didn't want any 'accidental' charges.

Here is a link with a thread explaining it all:

http://tinyurl.com/yv9wuv
 

MarkMS

macrumors 6502a
Aug 30, 2006
992
0
You have to get your PUK number and then add a sim pin to your phone. You can set it up so that you can lock your SIM card and it requires a password to be active. It leaves the iPhone still available for wireless and iPod features though. I did it today because I am going to Italy soon and I didn't want any 'accidental' charges.

Here is a link with a thread explaining it all:

http://tinyurl.com/yv9wuv
Hmm, that's not a bad idea. Are you sure this will work 100%? I was just thinking about turning on Airplane mode and just use the iPhone for its non-internet functions (like the iPod, Calculator, Notes...).

Also ... can we all please post full URLs? I'm always on the look out for those tinyurls that may redirect me to gay pr0n. I've been tricked too many times to go to meatspin and some nasty goat se .... :eek: :mad:

http://old.tuaw.com/2007/08/01/insane-international-iphone-roaming-charges/
 

sbrownla

macrumors regular
May 28, 2007
103
0
Arizona
oh but it is

Keep us posted!

Oh, and to the OP, you really need to change the title of your post to say "AT&T Bill" and not iPhone bill. This is NOT a problem of Apple or the iPhone! I'm tired of people ragging on this awesome device just because AT&T has its issues. If you're gonna blame, blame the right damn person! :rolleyes:
It's not AT&T. AT&T, as someone else posted, sells phones that allow you to easily turn data OFF. I can turn gprs off on mine very easily, without any workarounds.

Apple made the phone, they made the menu, and they need to add the option.
 

Goldenbear

macrumors regular
Jun 30, 2007
226
3
Los Angeles
Hmm, that's not a bad idea. Are you sure this will work 100%? I was just thinking about turning on Airplane mode and just use the iPhone for its non-internet functions (like the iPod, Calculator, Notes...)...
This should work. I just tried it, and with wi-fi off, I could not get any internet access. Guess I'll try it out next time I'm in Canada.