Data Roaming: Don't Try This On The AT&T Network

For as long as there’s been mobile Internet, there have been outrageous roaming charges for using mobile Internet abroad. Now, people affected by this issue have a celebrity spokesman: Adam Savage of “Mythbusters” fame.

Savage used his Mercury USB modem for a few hours while in Canada. The bill? $11,000. They claim that he used 9 gigabytes of data in just a few hours of Web surfing. We call mathematical shenanigans.

AT&T has turned off Savage’s cell phone (and modem) and he’s live-tweeting his interactions with the company.

This isn’t a new issue to anyone who is a faithful Consumerist reader; we’ve published tales of data roaming woe that occurred from Europe to, well, Europe. We even featured a similar tale of roaming and poor math skills that happened three years ago during a Verizon customer’s trip to Canada.

If you’re leaving the country, you’re best off disabling any mobile data contraptions on your person.

And so you don’t try this when you’re away from home, here’s a guide to using your cell phone and data plan abroad even when you aren’t famous.

UPDATE: An anonymous but impeccable source inside AT&T just told us that the vast majority of customers with huge data roaming charges will not get the charges reversed unless the charges are obviously erroneous. Not “I didn’t know data cost that much in Manitoba.” More like “I have never been to Manitoba, since as you can see I was also using the Internet in Los Angeles at the same time that you claim I was in Manitoba.” See the difference?

How To: Use Your Cellphone Abroad
Downloading Overseas? Here’s Your $7,124 Cingular Bill
iPhone/AT&T $3,000 International Roaming Bill Serves As Cruel Warning
Verizon Doesn’t Know Difference Between Dollars And Cents
When Travelling Internationally, Pop Out The iPhone SIM Card To Check Email Without Huge Roaming Charges

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.