Make Sure Your Mobile Phone Doesn't Sneak Off To Canada While You're Sleeping

Tara’s stepson is part of her AT&T family plan. He’s young, so his account is fairly locked down: he can’t buy ringtones or games or even access the Internet at all. So why did his phone rack up $50 worth of data roaming in Canada, when he was 150 miles from the border at the time of the alleged downloads? Tara doesn’t know. Her stepson doesn’t know. And AT&T Wireless isn’t all that sure, either.

Backstory: I have 3 cell phones on a family plan. One for me, one for my wife and one for my stepson. The bill runs about $150.00 each month give or take depending on sending picture text messages.

This month my bill runs over $200.00. I start investigating how this happened and figure out that the extra $50 is associated with my son’s phone. I actually pay for parental controls so he can’t access the internet, download ringtones, ect. We also have his phone disabled when he is supposed to be sleeping on school nights. I’m mystified at this point about where the charges have come from because he’s only texting friends and calling friends – none of the numbers on the bill are weird or unrecognizable.

Before I scream at my kid I call AT&T to find out how this happened. I ask if any features have been added (maybe my wife added something without telling me). Nope. I ask, are these internet usage charges. Nope. The rep looks into it and they are Canadian roaming charges.

My response is obviously, Our son hasn’t left the state, or even the county – how are there roaming charges? Rep explains that this is a problem for some customers living close to the Canadian border. Cool story, but my son lives no where near Canada, he lives 150 miles north of NYC (near Albany) and about 150 miles away from the border of Canada. Rep tells me that this has been a problem for customers in NY, then kindly reverses the charges.

How many customers have just paid for improper roaming charges without looking into it?

I’ve had AT&T since they swallowed cingular. This is the first time it’s ever happened.

The AT&T rep did reverse the charges and was very helpful so I give AT&T points on that issue, but my gut reaction is that this is a load of hogwash and the company is trying to scam more money out of customers that don’t pay attention to this bill.

Always check your bill for charges that don’t seem to belong.

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