$201,000 phone bill not a mistake

Cautionary tale: Data roaming charges of $10 per megabyte add up quickly on trip to Canada.

When you travel abroad, don't forget to pack your international calling and data plan--or face the consequences.

Perhaps you've faced the sticker shock of using your cell phone abroad, where roaming rates can reach as high as several dollars for each minute or few megabytes of data. Multiply that horror by a few thousand and you might begin to be able to empathize with Celina Aarons. The Florida resident recently opened her T-Mobile bill to find a balance due of $201,000.

Unfortunately for Ms. Aarons, the bill was correct.

Screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET

The issue, as Florida TV station WSVN reported, was with a trip one of her brothers took to Canada. Two of Aarons' brothers are deaf and use texting as a primary tool for communication. So when one of them--who is on his sisters' phone plan--went abroad and forgot to turn off data roaming, the charges added up.

In addition to higher texting fees, T-Mobile charged 10 dollars per megabyte of data. And there was lots of data usage on the trip, including video streaming. The TV station contacted T-Mobile, and the company agreed to drop the bill amount by about 99 percent--to just $2,500.

T-Mobile told WSVN that it did send texts warning of the exploding bill and increased rates, but Aarons argues that she should have been contacted directly as the primary account holder.

In the end, it all worked out, and everyone is happy--except perhaps AT&T, who will be acquiring a company worth about $198,000 less than it should be, if its buyout of T-Mobile ever goes through.

 

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