And This Is Your $4190.76 iPhone Bill

When Pierre visited Ibiza, Spain and other parts of Europe for two weeks, his iPhone went with him, and he returned with memories of a hedonistic summer vacation, and a $4190.76 bill from AT&T. This is his video, a parody of an iPhone commercials. The signature twinkly guitar plays in the background while a self-assured voice says This is your [feature]…and this is your [feature]… etc etc. in this case, the final item is the wallet-busting bill, “all, on your iPhone”

Like others, Pierre had found out the hard way just how extremely expensive international data transfer rates are…

Pleading with AT&T customer service got him retroactively on an international plan for $24.99 for 20mb, and $5 per mb thereafter. He used 205 mb total, so his new bill is $900. Still expensive, but a bit more swallowable than 4 g’s.

“It’s still a lot,” writes Pierre. “T-mobile has a plan $19.99 on a blackberry for emails send or receive wherever you are in the world, why not AT&T?”

We don’t know, Pierre, or why AT&T would also offer unlimited international data use at $70 per month to its Blackberry customers and not iPhone (except, you know, because they can make more money), but we do know that you can’t just flounce over to Europe and use your American cellphone and expect everything to be all right (know your rate plans!!!), and neither should AT&T/Apple expect that customers will know that either. When traveling and using your iPhone overseas, a warning screen should come up warning customers of the high costs you could be incurring. Maybe a slideshow of images from the Great Depression could play in the background.

Pierre’s bill below:


RELATED: iPhone/AT&T $3,000 International Roaming Bill Seves As Cruel Warning


Edit Your Comment

  1. Apple had better lean on AT&T.

    Even though the exact same thing happens to other unlimited U.S. data plan users with other phones, the high profile of the iPhone is making these dunderheads’ idiocy reflect poorly on Apple.

    And waitaminute – his previous bill was $492.00? Sounds like someone has an impulse control problem.

  2. Seems suitable that the kind of person who would have an iPhone is the same kind of person so boneheaded that he doesn’t know the details of his phone plan, or the consequences of ridiculous international charges.

    What a doof.

  3. SybilDisobedience says:

    Yikes! That’s about 3 months of my salary! I’m glad he talked AT&T down to $900, but that’s still outrageous. Thanks, but I’ll keep my prepaid crappy looking Tracfone. It cost me $150 to get 360 minutes, and since I don’t use my phone much, it’s lasted me a year.

  4. castlecraver says:

    205MB, over EDGE/GPRS? Sounds like a hell of a vacation… guy must have been playing with his iPhone the whole two weeks.

  5. azntg says:

    I’m surprised that people didn’t know that the international roaming rates are ludicrously high. I thought it was a well known fact.

    So sorry to hear that Apple seems to be getting the short end of the stick on this one, but sometimes I guess it’s for the better that people open their eyes after using a popular product than a crappy practice being unnoticed for the masses without a popular product.

  6. grouse says:

    His previous bill was $492???

  7. weave says:

    Years ago I signed up for t-mobile, mainly because their international roaming rates were the cheapest. Before I could use it though, I had to call them and ask to have international roaming turned on for my account. The rep made sure I understood how expensive it could be. I assume a credit check of some sort was done too.

    Seems simple enough to do. I’m amazed that level of roaming “just works” for AT&T by default.

  8. chuloallen says:

    Two questions.. what did his Phone bill look like..


    when did the eiffel tower move to spain?

  9. balthisar says:

    200 megabytes on a phone? What the hell was he browsing?

  10. markrubi says:

    euro porn maybe?

  11. mkguitar says:

    You HAVE to ascertain your plan and what it covers and where.


  12. digitalhen says:

    i did 5Gb on my wireless card last month in the States. That’s a healthy $100,000 if I’d been doing it while overseas.

  13. V-effekt says:

    Not smart at all. He is lucky they only charged him $900.

  14. dbeahn says:

    So he didn’t bother checking the rates.

    This is like buying a Hummer then bitching because “you just didn’t know gas cost so much!” and demanding that Hummer refund most of your fuel expenses for a year.

    Bad consumer.

  15. sunnfun says:

    [quote]should come up warning customers of the high costs you could be incurring.[/quote]

    Great, maybe we should also have a warning label on coffee pots that the contents may be hot and we should have a label on a lawnmower that reaching into it might cut your arm of, or…

    Oh, never mind.

  16. nequam says:

    No sympathy for the parade of people who have “found out the hard way just how extremely expensive international data transfer rates are.” They could have found out the easy way by simply reading their plan. Cry babies.

  17. aboriginal says:

    Sorry, Roger you broke now. If this dude’s runnin’ with bills this high its only improving my stock portfolio. Pay attention and don’t beatch about what is essentially your own dumassedness.

  18. crnk says:

    People really should read he contracts they get into. It is already well known that the icrapphone has high international roaming charges–honestly, if you know the blackberry unlimited is that much better, get it to begin with.

    Who cares what phone you have, as long as it works best for you (and that includes financially)….unless you’re a materialistic schmuck

  19. Mills says:

    Why is it only college students seem to know to buy cheap pre-pay phones when traveling in Europe?

    But it’s the data transfers that got him into trouble, in which case I want to know why he needed the internet when he could’ve been going out in Ibiza.

  20. raficab says:

    The problem isnt the 205MB he used. its the 9429 minutes of talk time. look at the bill. i dont think any plan goes up that high

  21. Trackback says:

    An iPhone owner named Pierre created a fake iPhone commercial showing his REAL $4190.76 iPHONE BILL from ATT.(props to…

  22. maevro says:

    Man, I do dig that photo viewer on the iPhone but its not worth leaving WM.

  23. AT203 says:

    In regards to T-mobile offering a better roaming rate than AT&T, keep in mind that Deutsche Telekom bought T-mobile, so they can allow people to roam in Europe either on their own networks or through roaming partnerships that are part of it’s presence in Europe.

  24. Amelie says:

    Considering AT&T offers unlimited international data use at $70 per month to its Blackberry customers, iPhone users have every right to be pissed. Attacking the user as a “crybaby” sounds more like contempt for iphone users than a legitimate criticism.

    @sybil. My t-mobil pre-paid is $100 for 1000 minutes that last indefinitely, as long as I buy more minutes within the year.

  25. TangDrinker says:

    @raficab: Maybe he left his phone on “speakerphone” during the entire time he was awake during his trip. That’s like 6.5 days worth of minutes.

  26. bedofnails says:

    What a moron.

  27. ExtraCelestial says:

    @Pope John Peeps II: Attacking a consumer for well… being a consumer is rather juvenille don’t you thing? Some people choose to spend $500 on a pda that’s buy one get one free in a matter of months while others (such as Pierre) prefer to invest that money on a piece of technology that will hold it’s value for it’s entire existance. A post such as yours that has little to nothing to do with the subject at hand and is little more than a poorly masked iPhone jab doesn’t shine badly on the phone or its users, but instead reveals you as a petty, spiteful person and negates whatever substance that possibly could’ve been pulled from your comment.

    With that being said I really don’t have too much sympathy for this guy. I’d understand if it was a one time thing where he was in a bind and needed to use the internet for some sort of emergency, but instead he CHOSE to use the phone repeatedly, and then CHOSE not to research the rate plans. You can’t sympathize with the willfully ignorant.

    However I don’t think sympathy is what we were to take from this post. The problem is much bigger than Pierre and his excessive phone bill. It’s the whole ATT/iPhone experience in general. iPhone customers seem to be getting special treatment and I don’t mean that in a good way. The rate plans are perposterous and customer service reps aren’t prepared to handle even basic iPhone questions. The simpliest of tasks such as changing your text messaging rate becomes Herculean feats when you’re an iPhone customer (how many times do you need to check with your supervisor to cancel an add-on??). I actually DID call ATT about international text messaging when my ex and parents (not together) both took vacations overseas. The conversation was so infuriatingly dysfunctional and the reps were so uninformed that I threw my hands up in defeat and resorted to textless phone cards. Apple did it’s job in pulling us in, now it’s ATT’s job to keep us. So far they’re failing… miserably.

  28. Nighthawke says:

    Thought so..

    On The Street (Wall Street), there were estimates that the overall expenditure for a customer that has a 2 year contract would be about $3K to 6K American.

    I’m disappointed in how at&t has set this massive honey trap up for us. And how many have gotten sucked into it.

    Let us prey upon the iPhone’s weaknesses my friends, unlock it’s hidden potential and unleash all of its service options. Give the appliance true life that it truly deserves!

    Allow at&t to wallow in the spoils of their marketing victory. But they will burn from the many wounds of the aftermath.

  29. Skeptic says:

    People are acting 205 megs is a huge number. It isn’t. Just visiting the Consumerist home page and clicking over to this page is about 1.2 megs, or $5.83 at the $.005 per kB rate mentioned in a previous post on this subject.

    $5.83 to view two rather ordinary web-pages is ridiculous. The fact that the iPhone views “the real internet” rather than a down-rezzed proxy is a distinct disadvantage when it comes to your overseas use of the phone.

  30. Skeptic says:

    …and an additional $2.3 for the refresh when I submitted the comment (an additional 460 kB for a total of aprox 1.6 megs): now it’s $8.13

  31. koz1000 says:

    (9429 min / 60 min/hr) / 30 days = 5.24 hours/day.

    5 hours a day of voice for a whole month? Freaking insane. That’s like 1/3 of your waking hours. And he was on VACATION for half of that month?

  32. Hawk07 says:

    I’m surprised AT&T retroactively added him to an international data plan.

  33. FLConsumer says:

    Where’s the “dumb consumer” tag? This story deserves it. Always ask what the charges/prices will be. Never ASSume that things will remain the same after you’ve left your home area.

    I bet this same person thinks that their US Constitutional rights & US laws apply to him in foreign countries as well.

    I’m also a bit skeptical about the minutes used. There’s only 10,000 minutes (168 hrs) in a week!

  34. emergent says:

    I was recently in Italy for 2 weeks, with my iPhone. I signed up for the international plan that they signed him up for retroactively. My bill still came out to over $2000. My company pays for my service and knew that bill would be expensive. I tried talking them down a bit but they wouldn’t budge.

  35. nequam says:

    @zouxou: I’m the one who called him a cry baby and I love the iPhone. If he had a legit gripe based on the Blackberry (and I agree iPhone users do), he should have raised it BEFORE he incurred the charges, rather than after. My criticism is legitimate. He acted irresponsibly.

  36. asherchang says:

    @Hawk07: Me too. Seriously, has this guy not heard of just leaving his phone behind for a vacation?

  37. bmbruno says:

    Of course, the $4190.76 could include $200 in shipping charges for what must be a four-thousand-page bill, given that the “average” iPhone user is seeing 30-, 40-, or even 50-page bills.

  38. Amy Alkon says:

    I highly recommend buying a phone, as somebody said above, in the country you’re visiting. I have a French cell phone that I leave with friends in France. I got it for 75 eu about five years ago. Just bought a new battery for it on eBay for about $5. When I’m in Paris, if I’m there for a week, I buy only a 10 eu mobicarte (at a tobacconist) and mostly have friends call me. Calls in are free. If I’m talkative, I’ll get a 35 eu card, which comes with, I think, 5 minutes free. I think it might cost about 50 cents a minute to call out, but not really a big deal considering the rates of US cell phones used in Europe. And then, if you’re making a reservation, you also have a Paris number to be called back on.

    Here’s a 39 eu phone via Orange, the company I use. That’s the price to buy the phone without a subscrip. Great deal.


  39. uricmu says:

    Everyone’s forgetting to notice the important point: it is possible to use the iPhone’s data features far away from AT&T’s network… This means that edge is working great over there. I see a hack coming.

  40. Crazytree says:

    he shouldn’t have been watching all that gay porn over there.

  41. andyparkerson says:

    If someone had developed BitTorrent for iPhone, he might owe billions!

  42. jblake1 says:

    Wow he is way over spending for his number of minutes. 9000+ roll over minutes time to trim your calling plan back too.

  43. xen says:

    Whether or not this guy should have researched his rates, his problem was not that he spent an entire week on the phone – those 9000 odd minutes are his rollover minutes from previous months. NOT the amount of time he spent talking on the phone while in europe.

  44. Lars says:

    I agree that the consumer here is quite dumb. But I would think the big loser is Apple. This kind of publicity has to scare some people away. Why they would lock in exclusivity with any one cellular carrier is beyond me.

  45. wartist says:

    This guy is irresponsible, but AT&T isn’t any better. They charged me $800 in long distance fees two months (consecutively) even after I called after the 1st month to correct the issue. Oh by the way I was only making calls from Philadelphia to Baltimore, and both areas were covered in my plan. Then, they politely shut off my cell phone services because I wouldn’t pay the bill, and then they attempted to charge me a re-connect fee, and they wondered why I wanted to terminate my contract with them, hmmmm…
    And yes, their customer service was quite remarkable, HA!

  46. jamar0303 says:

    Even if the guy did know, did he have a choice? I mean, unlike most other phones, unlocking the iPhone to use a local SIM with better data rates isn’t exactly for the faint of heart.

  47. Transient says:

    The whole “Blackberry has an unlimited international data plan” whine is entirely irrelevant to this situation since the chap never bothered to call in and ask about international service in the first place. The standard Blackberry data plan does not include any international service.

    Should there be an international option for the iPhone? Definitely. Wouldn’t have done much for Captain Assumption here, though.

  48. WillACarpenter says:

    Honestly, the man should have known better. But that has GOT to hurt.


  49. Amy Alkon says:

    Is it possible for the iPhone to work off Wifi like the Skype phones? (And be free in those circumstances?) In Paris, for example, they have free Wifi in an increasing number of parks.

  50. MichaelIdoyaga says:

    I got a bill for $1,700.00 from AT&T.

    There was the activation fee that they feel entitled to for making me wait five days, there were the eighty bucks I actually signed up for, there were mysterious charges with unintelligible acronyms, and then there was over $1300 for data consumption, charged by the kilobyte while I was in France for two weeks.

    Before I left, I signed up for international service. I was given a choice: either I pay a buck and a half a minute for phone calls, or I pay five bucks a month to earn the right to pay only ninety-nine cents a minute. Outrageous, but I agreed to it. Since I go once a year to visit my stepmother, I chose the recurring plan. I budgeted for two, three hundred bucks of telephone service. I get a lot of calls because I’m a public defender. Nobody said a word about data. Nothing. And I never gave it any thought. I guess I assumed data would be unlimited like it is here.

    OK, maybe that wasn’t too bright for a lawyer, but how would I have imagined they’d charge by the kilobyte? It’s like going out to a bar with your friends and being charged for beer by the spoonful.

    When I got the bill, I was floored. I called to complain, and a sweet-sounding midwestern girl back-doored me into a different plan which lowered my bill to $611.00. An improvement, but still a rip-off.

    This is beyond absurd, or silly, or bumbling, or overwhelmed. This is downright dishonest. This is larceny. This is like car salesmen in the seventies who asked whether you wanted tires with your new car. This should be a crime.

    Whenever people ask to see my new toy, I show them all the cool features on my iPhone, but I tell them about the $1,700.00 bill, plus the dropped calls, plus the slow and intermittent EDGE network, and I tell them to wait until Apple’s exclusive deal with AT&T is over and they go with other carriers. I can’t wait to get back with T-Mobile, myself.

  51. Lee2706 says:

    At least he can make a video out of his experience. Of him being a freakin’ idiot.

  52. f3rg says:

    Last time I was on vacation, I think I made about two phone calls, maybe three, and they were very short. I guess I just don’t seek the sort of constant attention as this guy. If he could only get along awhile on his own a bit, he’d live a much cheaper life. Probably a better one, too.

  53. Juantxon says:

    He’s a moron if he went to Ibiza on vacation and spent his time looking at his iPhone instead of the girls at the beach…

  54. kwsdurango says:

    Traveling to Europe and need a phone? My solution for my 3 month multi-country trip: Motorola Razr GSM – unlocked phone: $180.00 in the US, plug adapters and SIM cards with Pay-As-You-Go Plans for any country that I visit for more than 2 weeks.

    My phone bills: UK: $30.00, Croatia: $20.00, etc., etc. Easy, cheap local calls, cheap international SMS/Text messaging, manageable international calls, no surprises. Data transfer? No thanks – this is vacation!

  55. YokoOno says:

    Dude, what the hell are you doing spending that much time on your phone while on vacation? I think you got what you deserved. Dork.

    I travel to the UK a lot, but I buy unlocked phones and a pay-as-you-go SIM for Virgin Mobile. It costs me jack squat, even for incoming international calls. I am baffled that people still don’t get it. No, yo won’t be able to use your precious iPhone, but aren’t you supposed to be on vacation anyway?

  56. YokoOno says:

    Obviously I bought a UK Virgin Mobile SIM. I should have clarified.

  57. chimmike says:

    he is an absolute idiot…………that is all.

    common sense people, does anyone have it anymore?

    Must be nice to have that much disposable income to throw $900 on a cellphone bill. He could’ve bought a 10mp digital SLR and taken VERY high quality pics for that much money…..

  58. muckpond says:

    i’ve asked this before, but i’ll ask it again.

    doesn’t this phone have wifi built in? can’t you use it in a hotspot with no data transfer charges?

    or am i dumb?

  59. gibsonic says:


    to bad iphone users don’t have the ability to do the following…

    – install firefox
    – install firefox add-on “No Script”
    – install firefox add-on “AdBlock Plus”

    this page, as of this comment, is 94kb with the above… of $.47 still rather expensive IMO for one page refresh.

  60. Sasquatch says:

    I have no sympathy for this chump. If you aren’t smart enough to ask what the roaming rates are before you use the service, then don’t go crying to the company after the fact because you neglected to realize that using your phone outside the US costs more money (which should be obvious to anyone with a +100 IQ).

    And BTW, T-Mobile’s unlimited international usage plane only applies to Blackberrys, not Pocket PCs, Treos or any other data devices.

  61. Theber says:

    I know people are pounding this guy for a $400 bill the previous month, but even with an international calling plan *in the US* to call other countries is prohibitive. I regularly had $300 phone bills and that’s with the international calling plan at $10 a month and $0.25 a minute.

  62. IceEncasesFire says:

    “When Pierre visited Ibiza, Spain and Europe for two weeks, his iPhone went with him”

    Ibiza is a Spanish island and Spain is part of Europe

    It should read:
    “When Pierre visited Europe for two weeks, his iPhone went with him”

  63. methane says:

    boo hoo?
    Should this be tagged ‘Slow news day?’

  64. Ben Popken says:

    @methane: No. Videos like this do not happen every day.

  65. kpom says:

    I agree this guy should have checked his plan first, but the larger point is that international roaming is needlessly expensive. It’s a huge profit source, with voice at $1-2 per minute (and no voice plans available), and data at $15-20/MB from the major carriers (even if you are roaming on their parent’s network, as is the case with T-Mobile).

    At least with unlocked phones, there’s the option of buying local SIM cards, although that’s getting a little harder with anti-terrorism laws popping up everywhere, and, more importantly, with GSM phones being locked to a carrier. Sure most phones (but not the iPhone) can be unlocked, but how many people know how to do that? The EU has placed some caps on roaming charges within Europe for customers of European phone companies. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more calls for regulation if the wireless carriers over here don’t slash their international roaming rates, too.

  66. chinadoll724 says:


    Please learn to read. It says “and other parts of Europe” . . . It is right as is.

  67. nickripley says:

    @Celested: A 1st gen iPhone won’t be worth anything near it’s full value in a few months! Do you know much about technology?

  68. ExtraCelestial says:

    @nickripley: except it will. much like the first generation ipod. do you know anyting about apple?

  69. attrep says:

    There’s actually a policy in place about this. I can’t remember exactly what it said but if you have data charges above 10MB you can request a re-rate to an int’l data plan. Only if the cust calls in and asks for it. You would probably have to speak with a supervisor becuase most reps won’t know about it.

  70. IceEncasesFire says:


    I know how to read, the mistake was corrected because I sent an email.

  71. deb_soneonefu says:

    Please help me. I got 28K $ from at&t. I live in the US. I took two mobile connections under family plan. One is thru iPhone and other one is using other phone set. Last month, I exchanged the SIM cards in these phones. As I had unlimited data plan in one connection, I thought that there would not be any problem. Further, I didn’t get any call or mail from AT&T at that time when I did the same. Recently, I got a call from AT&T mentioning that I am not supposed to exchange the SIM cards. Please suggest me what I should do now.

  72. James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil says:

    This is also because AT&T is the most avaricious, unethical call provider in the USA. I have had them and these jerks were trying to charge me for text message they sent to me advertising their services! I told them to obey the biblical imperative to “Go forth and multiply thyself.” I refused to pay and they said they would cancel my service and charge me a $200 earl termination fee. I reminded them that I only had a month-to-month contract, They said I didn’t and I said then we’ll be in court and you will have to produce the contract with my signature on it. I new I had never signed any such contract because, when I bough the phone, I specifically stated I would only be in the country for two or three months. As I was leaving to return to Brazil in a few days, I didn’t care what they did. They never canceled my service and kept billing me for months after I told them to cancel. I despise AT&T and will never do business with them again.