Florida woman Celina Aarons was shocked when she received her recent cell phone bill. Her usual bill typically totals around $175. This one was at $201,000. And it wasn't a mistake: it was all because of cell phone roaming charges.
Aarons has two deaf brothers. They communicate through text messages and also use their phones to download and watch videos.
Unfortunately, they forgot to switch over to an international plan when they went on a two-week trip to Canada. In total, they sent over 2,000 texts. They also used their data plan, making their cell phone bill skyrocket.
Luckily for Aarons, she negotiated with T-Mobile and managed to get her charges down to $2,500. She was also given six months to pay her bill.
Consumers traveling abroad should be cautious about using their cell phones. Roaming charges can be very expensive.
For example, T-Mobile's international data plan is $10 per MB in Canada and $15 per MB in other countries. Considering many consumers have up to 2 GB (or roughly 2,000 MB) of data allotted in their data plans, a charge of $10 per MB would be much higher than usual.
And Aaron's case is not isolated. About 1 in 6 cell users have experienced bill shock, according to the FCC.
This is a trend that the FCC has noticed. It's worked up a plan in conjunction with the CTIA, which is an organization that represents wireless carriers like T-Mobile. The new plan will implement notifications for consumers to alert them if they are close to surpassing their monthly data use, text message use, and voice call use. It will also alert those who are about to get hefty international roaming charges.
These changes will slowly be implemented so that by October 2013 wireless carriers like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile will provide notifications in all four areas. These alerts may be useful in preventing cases like Celina Aarons: a shockingly high six-figure cell phone roaming bill.