Turn on your data for one minute, AT&T sticks you with a $750 international roaming charge


Given that problem, I’d offer AT&T the choice of forgiving the charge or paying it and switching carriers. But I can’t because I switched carriers from them 3 years ago for other reasons.

He says he’s going to switch to T-Mobile when the iPhone 6 comes out. If only Sprint weren’t still in the process of buying T-Mobile. (I really, really wish the Fed would nix that merger. There is no benefit to the consumer in it, and no technology benefit in merging an CDMA network with a GSM one. )

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This is the reason I still buy the biggest capacity smartphone rather than storing all my stuff in “the cloud”. The time I really want to take photos, check directions, book tickets and listen to music is when I’m travelling.

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All this guy did was try to check Google maps for a single minute - which should have been a meg or two - and he never even got through. So, even with your giant smart phone with it’s gigs of on board storage you’d still have been charged this same kind of outrageous $750 roaming fee.

There is just no valid excuse for charging over $15 a meg. Nor is there any valid excuse for why cell phones can’t show charges in real time, without needing to go to a website. The cell companies don’t want you to know how much you are paying. It’s why even before smart phones they actively removed the display total call time functions that were part of the stock features of cell phones.


This kind of crap is a good reason to switch to T-mobile. I’ll check it out before I go overseas next, but it looks like international is essentially treated like national rates (though the LTE might be different). The entire thing is infuriating. When I was on Sprint I wanted to jaunt up to Canada and was mortified to see the rates to freaking use Sprint Canada. It is pure price gouging. It seems insane, even from a perfectly capitalist mindset. No one will use their phone at those rates, and anyone that does will hate you so fucking hard after you get done screwing them that they are going to drop you the first chance they get.

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Sure, I totally agree. I’m just saying the one time I really want to use the full capabilities of my smartphone is the one time the networks will ream me for roaming fees. Moreso, if we move all our personal media to the cloud as we’re now encouraged to do, we’re even more buggered.

Back when the iPhone 1 launched, I hoped Apple would use their exclusivity leverage to form an MVNO with a global unlimited data plan.

Seven years later, miraculously, the network I’m on (Three UK) have introduced plan-inclusive (ie. “free”) roaming for voice, text and data to USA, Australia, and a few others. Finally I’m not going to have to pay out for an AT&T GoPhone SIM next time I travel to the States.

Gid, I agree totally. I went prepaid(not in US) for years, now I finally have a good unlimited voice/SMS/International calling/ incoming London and LA numbers, and data unlimited which throttles after 6gb for $20/mo and no additional charges except for toll services, roaming, and international SMS.
Starting prepaid I was used to having to wait until I found WiFi. I use a Nokia N900 (maemo linux) with offline Sygic installed for maps, pretty large music and ebook stash, and an offline version of wikivoyage and wikipedia for offline reference.
I do have roaming available only if I opt-in so I wont be surprised.
Enough about the plan or my setup though, a smart scout is ready to have no data or voice signal and plans appropriately, appropriate planning would be having apps which have offline database options and relying primarily on a SD card rather than online storage, it might also involve carrying a prepaid sim or having two plans and a sim switcher depending on the situation.

Meanwhile, in not ass-backwards telephone land: “On 3 April 2014, MEPs voted by 534 votes to 25, to end roaming fees within the European Union from 15 December 2015”


When in Rome, do as the roamers do? Or don’t…


The competition-brings-prices-down thing also seems to be working, as most countries have at least 3 or 4 different mobile operators and as soon as one offers unlimited minutes or such deals the others have to quickly follow suit. The courts aren’t really lenient on price fixing either.

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Color me jealous.

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Google maps does have an option to download a map prior to roaming.

@doctorow > Jeff was driving in the Pacific northwest, near the Canadian border.

Jeff was in Canada, near Vancouver.

Jeff R. - “Last week, after driving across the Canadian border at Blaine, I got disoriented trying to double back to Highway 99.”

Of course, that implies that you know exactly where you’re going to be going and that you know that you’re going to be needing Google Maps.

Having said that - just because he couldn’t get through to Google Maps, that doesn’t mean that his phone wasn’t downloading all kinds of OTHER stuff in the background. Trying to connect to GMail, trying to get app updates (that’s a real kicker, a handful of 5 mb apps and boom, you have sucked up a TON of data), you name it. Phones do all KINDS of crazy data stuff in the background, which is why I never turn data roaming on, PERIOD. Unless your phone has a way to specify “Only allow app X to do data roaming”, you never know what exactly it’s doing. I’m not saying that that is what happened in this case, but it’s entirely possible.

Of course, if companies just had sensible data roaming rates, none of this would be a problem. It is absolutely RIDICULOUS what companies charge for data roaming in this day and age.

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On my phone it’s easy to download entire countries (or states/provinces in large countries) for offline use. Alberta was 50MB, for example, while Iran was 120MB. If you know enough to turn off your roaming before you reach the border, you know enough to download maps just before you do so.[quote=“dobby, post:8, topic:33583”]
it might also involve carrying a prepaid sim or having two plans and a sim switcher depending on the situation.
A North American smartphone user is really unlikely to have an unlocked phone, making this pretty difficult.

Blaine is a pain…

Yes, but that only provides limited functionality. I use Google maps not just for finding where I am on a map via GPS but for looking up specific businesses by name and for getting transit directions. Those are on-line transactions.

Side note: the guy in the OP likely forgot to turn off account syncing - a feature that is a bit buried in the settings.

This is what I was speaking to above - there are a MILLION different ways your phone can be trying to pull down data when you turn it on. Not just account syncing, but app updates are a huge one as well. Most people turn that on and forget about it. I only realized just HOW MANY ways there are for your phone to download data without you asking it to when I went on vacation recently, and had to have my work phone available to receive emails - going through and turning off every possible data usage scenario EXCEPT for email was a huge pain. And then remembering every one to turn them back on again when I got home was another huge pain.

I’m not even sure if it is possible to turn off all the different possible data downloads of the system and various apps independently of the mobile data on/off switch. There is no throttle data mode, and I’d really like one for preventing circumstances like the one in the OP :-0