We’ve all done it. You’re not paying attention and you go through the minutes on your phone. Next month, you open your bill and find that your phone call cost you $20. You’re not alone. In fact, it could be a lot worse.
We’ve heard stories of people receiving bills exceeding $68,000. It’s startlingly easy to do, especially when traveling abroad. Most companies have curbed their domestic overage charges to a reasonable level, but data fees could run you over $20 per megabyte. Watch a youtube video, and it’s easy to rack up over $100 in fees in under 3 minutes.
Even more dangerous, most smartphones are set to automatically update software, retrieve email, or even check the weather. Forgetting to adjust these settings when traveling abroad can easily lead to a bill in the thousands of dollars.
In fact, 1 in 6, (about 30,000,000) cell phone users in the US have experienced sudden and unexpected increases in their wireless bill.
In October, wireless carriers led by the FCC agreed to do a better job of warning users about roaming and overage charges.
The agreement breaks down fees into 4 categories (voice, data, SMS/Text, and international roaming). By October 17th, wireless carriers will be required to implement warnings for at least 2 of the categories, and will have until April 17, 2013 to implement warnings for the other categories.
The agreement doesn’t specify what counts as a warning, nor does it mandate that the carrier inform the user about the size of the overage fees, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
In the meantime, the best way to avoid overage charges is to always be wary, especially when traveling. If you’re going on vacation, it’s a great excuse to leave the phone back in the hotel room.