Who Is Making Hourlong Roaming Calls On My Phone Every Time I Travel To China?

Heather travels to China regularly for work, and she has to bring her phone with her. It’s a Blackberry on AT&T. What she doesn’t understand is why lengthy roaming calls made from China appear on her AT&T bill when she’s out of the country. She never makes 90-minute cell phone calls, so she certainly wouldn’t do so while paying international roaming rates. Still, AT&T insists that she is the one who made the calls, and is responsible for the roaming fees. “[AT&T] can’t tell me who these calls were actually placed to,” she writes, “but [they] assure me that they know I made them.” Well, I’m convinced.

She writes:

I travel to China for work every few months. Every time I do, I run into major issues with AT&T. Mysterious 20-90 minute calls appear on my bill that are not my calls (I don’t make cellular calls of that length under normal circumstances, and especially not when roaming internationally at $2 a minute). One bill was almost $800! When I try to work with customer service, their attitude is that I’m trying to rip them off. They can’t tell me who these calls were actually placed to, but assure me that they know I made them.

I have found that their social media department is marginally more customer friendly than the phone agents, who are downright nasty. A social media agent agreed to forgive a $200 call that even they had to recognize was not mine (given that I was tied up in a meeting at the time I supposedly made it) – but AT&T has not worked with me on anything else. And today I get another bill with $107 in calls I am sure I did not make.

I need a CEO-level address to escalate my complaint. Can you help? I have to take my BlackBerry to China for work reasons, but each time I do, I get reamed. I’m responsible for these charges myself, as my company will only pay up to a certain amount. This is ridiculous.

Does the phone ever leave Heather’s sight while she’s traveling? If not, she should try swapping in a Chinese prepaid SIM and seeing whether any calls are made from her line when it’s not even operational. (Taking the battery out would work, too.) If the calls continued even when Heather was back home in the USA, that would indicate that someone has cloned her phone. That doesn’t appear to be the case here, though.

As far as we know, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson’s contact information hasn’t changed since we first published it in 2007. Surely someone high up in the organization does a lot of international traveling and has been through something similar.