T-Mobile Speaks on Data Roaming Charges – “Don’t Blame Us”

Remember the story from last week where poor James got socked with over $100 in data roaming charges?  Long story short, he thought he had all of his data features disabled on his G1 for a trip he was taking to the UK.  The next bill he got from T-Mobile showed small charges coming every few minutes while abroad.  Regular fees of 15¢ each were slowly adding up to a total of $102.85 in data roaming.

James sent his story to us and a few other places and the fiasco went viral.  Everyone, including us, were waiting to see what T-Mobile said in regards to the matter.  The guys over at Engadget have come across an official statement from the company and it looks like they are pointing the finger elsewhere.

T-Mobile is committed to delivering the best experience in wireless to our customers. If a T-Mobile customer would like to use their T-Mobile G1 while outside the country, they should contact Customer Care before they leave to ask that the WorldClass feature be added to their service at no additional charge. If they choose, customers can also disable data roaming on the G1. This can be done by going through the following steps: Home Screen > Menu > Settings > Wireless Controls > Mobile Networks > Data Roaming.

Some third party applications available for download on Android Market require access to the internet and have the ability to turn on data roaming when in use. Customers are informed whether an application will use this feature prior to downloading, but should also be aware when traveling outside the country.

Translation: Don’t blame us, bro. It’s one of your apps from the Android Market.  If you left the phone the way it was when we sold it to you, it would have been just fine.

This begs the question – Is there a way for people to completely turn their data off without going into Airplane Mode?  Why even bother taking something so feature rich with you if it’s going to be a glorified calculator and notepad?

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  1. Why even bother taking something so feature rich with you if it’s going to be a glorified calculator and notepad?

    For emergencies, and ebook reader, a digital checkbook, planner, games, etc. There are many reasons to take the G1 with you even if you don’t plan on using it as a phone. The fact is he made a good faith effort to turn everything off and it didn’t work. Airplane mode would work, I guess, but it would be a little more dicey for the emergency case since he’d have to go through and turn airplane mode off. Bottom line is if you turn off data access it should go off. This is most likely not a shortcoming of T-Mobile since they have no control over that sort of thing, or of HTC since I would bet the hardware allows this. I would say Google needs to step in, split the bill with James and fix the bug in the next Android update.

  2. One excellent way to disable data altogether is to change the APN the phone tries using. For example, if you use “cingular” as your APN, just change it to “cingularoff” or something similar. However, there are dozens of T-Mobile APNs on the G1, so this might not be a simple solution.

  3. Boy you guys are so stupid for blaming TMobile because the guy did not read the instructions. I guess when anything bad happens in your life its always someone elses fault to, right? Duh get some spine fools.

  4. Ignoring the ridiculous, the only practical information from the T-Mobile statement is “contact Customer Care before they leave to ask that the WorldClass feature be added to their service at no additional charge.” Does anyone have any further information on this option?

  5. I have more information on the WorldClass feature, because I called T-Mobile and said “I’d like to add the WorldClass feature to my account”. I did this because I misread their message as implying that this would somehow help solve the problem. It doesn’t. When I called them about adding WorldClass they told me “You already have it.” Of course I do, I’ve roamed internationally with my previous T-Mobile phones frequently. WorldClass doesn’t cost anything and it’s the feature that lets you roam internationally at all. Without it your phone won’t work on other countries’ networks, regardless of the settings or software on the handset. In other words, if customers follow T-Mobile’s suggestions, then T-Mobile will receive MORE revenue from people accidentally running up stray roaming data charges, not less.

    If you really want to take your phone abroad and avoid extortionate data charges by not using it as a phone — and if you want something to take notes on and look up addresses, I’d just as soon take my ten year old palm pilot, thanks very much, or better still a $0.99 note pad and pencil — then you’d be best off asking to have WorldClass REMOVED from your account. But T-Mobile don’t tell you that. Their contempt for their customers’ intelligence is staggering.

  6. The point is, “James” shut off data roaming and yet the phone he was sold by TMO did roam. I don’t see how this is anything more than TMO’s fault.

    If I park my car and then come back to find it’s turned itself on and has driven in to another car, who is liable? If I was James, I’d go to Small Claims court and let a judge explain to TMO that “Data Roaming Off” = No roaming charges.

  7. T-Mobile are more than aware of what is going on – in the UK they started selling the G1 on the cheaper tariffs, without any data allowance. This has now changed with the G1 page now informing potential customers that they NEED a data plan.

    I do have to say that the sheer mass of applications that use the GPS is really starting to put me off. Where are the damn office apps? And, no, Google, Google Doc support won’t cut it. If I want everything online, I’ll look at the iPhone…

  8. Amendment to previous post – just seen on Android Community that DataViz are bringing Documents To Go to Android – since this made the Blackberry Bold a tempting prospect, I’m on the way to being stoked again. As long as the price is right.

  9. I’ve heard a couple horror stories of huge roaming charges with the G1. As one of the many veterans of dealing with large cell bills, I have some advice for anyone who has been a victim of similar questionable charges or feels that they’re paying too much for their wireless service: Check out the website http://www.fixmycellbill.com by a company called Validas where you can find out for free if you’re one of the eight in ten wireless customers paying more than you need to.

    I was able to save around $230 annually off my cell bill using Validas which impressed me so much that I actually took a job with the company. Validas is rapidly gaining a reputation as the preeminent advocate for the wireless customer. Check out a feature about Validas on The Big Idea with CNBC’s Donny Deutsch at http://www.cnbc.com/id/22782456/.

    To give a brief rundown of how it works, Validas analyzes your uploaded online cell bill to determine how much money you could be saving. Up to this point everything is free. If you choose, Validas provides a highly detailed and personalized cell bill adjustment report that, for five bucks, is emailed to your wireless provider in industry specific format so you can actually implement these cash saving changes to your plan. If Validas can save you more than $5 on your bill (the average customer currently saves $484 annually through Validas), this obviously provides a cost effective remedy for reducing cellular expenses.

    Good luck to everyone on minimizing their roaming charges.


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