Woman Racks Up $1,558 In International Roaming Charges; Claims Phone Was Off The Entire Time

When in roam…

A Verizon Wireless customer says that when she returned from her recent 12-day cruise of the Mediterranean, she turned on her phone and suddenly saw text messages warning her that she was incurring all sorts of roaming charges. In fact, as she was soon to find out, she’d somehow tallied up $1,558.95 in roaming charges, all while she claims her phone was turned off.

The woman tells CBS Sacramento’s Kurtis Ming that, in advance of her trip, two employees at the Verizon store had told her that her smartphone wouldn’t even work while she was abroad.

“I did not, honestly, did not turn on that phone,” she swears. “I would put… my hand on a Bible and swear that I did not do that.”

This was apparently not enough for VZW, which insisted that she pay the mammoth bill.

CNET’s Jessica Dolcourt theorizes that the only real explanation for the charges is that the woman must have accidentally turned her phone on while charging:

“What happens the second you turn your phone on, all of those, especially with an Android, apps in the background, emails, all loading, all pinging the network, getting your texts, everything is happening and you can’t stop that.”

And as anyone who has made an international call using a cruise ship’s cell tower knows, the rates are incredibly expensive.

VZW agreed that it’s a possibility that the woman’s phone turned on while she was charging it, resulting in the huge roaming data charges.

“I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned never take your phone to Europe,” said Maria.

After Ming and CBS got involved, Verizon agreed to drop the charges from the customer’s bill.

However, if you’re going to travel with your smartphone internationally, here are some things you can do.

-Take out the battery. The phone can’t ping the network if it has no power.
-Set your phone to airplane mode. This should turn off all antennas, meaning no wireless data use whatsoever.
-If you need to use your phone over WiFi, turn off data roaming. This should prevent the apps on your phone from gobbling up background data while you’re off your provider’s network.