International data plan billing

Highlighted

International data plan billing

In preparation for a two-week trip to London I called to have international data and voice plans added to my account. My desire is to have the plans turned on for the duration of my trip and then remove it upon return.

I was told that it takes several weeks for AT&T billing to receive the data for my activity while traveling and therefore I must maintain the plan for an additional month. The claim is AT&T's billing system will base the charges on the plan in place when the billing happens *not* when the call is made. This rationale has the affect of forcing me to keep the plan for six weeks when I only need it for two.

To me this billing method sounds bogus and borderline fraudulent. Has anyone else been told the same? Has anyone used an international plan and successfully terminated it with proper billing?
Message 1 of 16 (42,130 Views)
Expert

Re: International data plan billing



squishyray wrote:
      In preparation for a two-week trip to London I called to have international data and voice plans added to my account. My desire is to have the plans turned on for the duration of my trip and then remove it upon return.
      I was told that it takes several weeks for AT&T billing to receive the data for my activity while traveling and therefore I must maintain the plan for an additional month. The claim is AT&T's billing system will base the charges on the plan in place when the billing happens *not* when the call is made. This rationale has the affect of forcing me to keep the plan for six weeks when I only need it for two.
      To me this billing method sounds bogus and borderline fraudulent. Has anyone else been told the same? Has anyone used an international plan and successfully terminated it with proper billing?

      Unfortunately the info you were given is completely correct, that info is based no delayed billing, international carriers could not transmit the usage data to AT&T for aprox 45 days, then you have to wait for the bill to be printed and sent out to you. and no this is not fraudulent or border line fraudulent unfortunately
Message 2 of 16 (42,129 Views)
Guru

Re: International data plan billing

For the UK, you might want to search the forum as well about UK prepaid options. One of the few bargains in the UK is their prepaid mobile system. If your ATT phone(s) is/are unlocked, this might be an alternative way to go.
Message 3 of 16 (42,127 Views)
ACE - Expert

Re: International data plan billing



stufried wrote:
For the UK, you might want to search the forum as well about UK prepaid options. One of the few bargains in the UK is their prepaid mobile system. If your ATT phone(s) is/are unlocked, this might be an alternative way to go.

If you ask me, that's the only way to go. In all my travels I haven't once used AT&T roaming, there's always a cheaper alternative. Even global roaming cards are a better deal than AT&T roaming.
*The views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.
Message 4 of 16 (42,123 Views)

Re: International data plan billing

Hi Wilcre,

Thanks for your response.

Your answer assumes AT&T billing does not know my plan history. Imagine what would happen if I traveled abroad with no international plan in place and then enrolled after returning home just before the bill got processed. You think AT&T would honor the plan that was in place at that point? Zero chance.

My point is they should have the facility to know what plan I had when the service was used. Imagine if you filled up with gas but the price was set when your credit card bill was printed not when you made the purchase. Seems absurd, no? Just as it is absurd that AT&T does not have a system in place to retroactively settle charges based on account history. It's suspiciously convenient that the limitation of their billing system works in their favor.

Thanks to the others that suggested I get a SIM card from a different carrier. Unfortunately my phone is locked so that is not a possibility.
Message 5 of 16 (42,097 Views)
ACE - Expert

Re: International data plan billing



squishyray wrote:
Hi Wilcre,

Thanks for your response.

Your answer assumes AT&T billing does not know my plan history. Imagine what would happen if I traveled abroad with no international plan in place and then enrolled after returning home just before the bill got processed. You think AT&T would honor the plan that was in place at that point? Zero chance.

My point is they should have the facility to know what plan I had when the service was used. Imagine if you filled up with gas but the price was set when your credit card bill was printed not when you made the purchase. Seems absurd, no? Just as it is absurd that AT&T does not have a system in place to retroactively settle charges based on account history. It's suspiciously convenient that the limitation of their billing system works in their favor.

Thanks to the others that suggested I get a SIM card from a different carrier. Unfortunately my phone is locked so that is not a possibility.

Unless you have an iPhone there's a very good chance that AT&T will give you an unlock code (there are a few other requirements, but it doesn't hurt to call and ask).
*The views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.
Message 6 of 16 (42,090 Views)
Master

Re: International data plan billing



squishyray wrote:
Hi Wilcre,

Thanks for your response.

Your answer assumes AT&T billing does not know my plan history. Imagine what would happen if I traveled abroad with no international plan in place and then enrolled after returning home just before the bill got processed. You think AT&T would honor the plan that was in place at that point? Zero chance.

My point is they should have the facility to know what plan I had when the service was used. Imagine if you filled up with gas but the price was set when your credit card bill was printed not when you made the purchase. Seems absurd, no? Just as it is absurd that AT&T does not have a system in place to retroactively settle charges based on account history. It's suspiciously convenient that the limitation of their billing system works in their favor.

Thanks to the others that suggested I get a SIM card from a different carrier. Unfortunately my phone is locked so that is not a possibility.

I absolutely agree with this. I do think it's bogus. But what you or I think doesn't matter to AT&T. Until there's class action suit filed about this, AT&T will continue to do this.
Message 7 of 16 (42,049 Views)
Master

Re: International data plan billing

The main problem is that a foreign provider can have a delay in telling at&t about your roaming use.  Unfortunately you will be billed at the applicable rate when the charges hit your account and not when the calls actually occured.  It's not entirely fair but that's the way it works with every single carrier in the US that provides overseas roaming services.  That said for the UK it's VERY rare for charges to be delayed more than 1 or 2 days.  Depending on your use you can assume that risk be deciding when to drop the discount plan but don't say you were not warned.
Message 8 of 16 (42,037 Views)
Guru
Solution
Accepted by topic author squishyray
‎09-30-2015 1:39 AM

Re: International data plan billing

I share your frustration with ATT's policy.  I know that modern billing programs can easily handle billing new charges that had a control date before X date at the old rate.  I suspect that the policy is a vestige, but it is an industry standard vestige which you find across the cellular industry.  Does industry adherence to a common policy legitimize it?  I think the answer is partly.

At $20 for 20 megs versus $15 per megabyte, you only need to be a little wrong to come out ahead leaving it on an extra month.  As noted earlier, the UK bills very quickly.  If you want to take the gamble, I would lock my phone to 02 when you land.  02 is partially affiliated with ATT and their charges hit your statement quickly.  It is a good bet that if your last day makes your usage list, there will not be any stragglers out there.  If you use all five networks in the UK (skip the virtual networks  for roaming purposes), your chances aren't as good.  Still I think you will be ok.  The UK has a state of the art system and this is a very common roaming path.  I think the charges will beat you home.
Message 9 of 16 (41,976 Views)

Re: International data plan billing

Thanks for the nice explanation, Stufried. If it is industry-wide then I suspect we're truly stuck. I maintain that the policy is unfair and fairness has been all I'm asking. I'm more than willing to pay for my usage but it is not right for carriers to retain this policy when there clearly could be easy technical solutions.

The sad part is the uncertainty they have introduced means I will not even attempt to use the data plan on my trip. So I will not get the functionality I would like and they lose the chance to sell their services.
Message 10 of 16 (41,970 Views)
Contributor

Re: International data plan billing

The cellular industry is still a very immature industry with variable pricing patterns and restraint of trade everywhere to artificially rip off the customer. That's why I always get a local SIM. Some cost less than 2 cents a minute vs. ATT 1.99. I also have a T-Mobile addon line with voice and data roaming that costs me $25 month with data roaming and $1.00/min calls from Europe. I never use voice because I can get much cheaper calls back to the U.S. with a local SIM.

With the iPhone you have the world's biggest ripoff. Last month I spent most of the month in Europe and had my iPhone off most of the time. I needed to check Google maps once or twice. Cost was $300. Pretty expensive map.

Basically, the iPhone is a brick in Europe and I spent 3 out of 4 weeks a month there! I did find out that I can probably cap my bill at about $150 a month with intl data roaming as long as I don't use more than 50MB.

Just to show I don't think ATT totally sucks (although I would be gone in a flash if another vendor supported the iPhone), I find their international roaming plan for their USB modem for my laptop is reasonably reliable in all the companies in Europe I visit every month (which is most of them). It is not cheap at $129 but at least it works (something that is not always true about the iPhone).
Message 11 of 16 (8,204 Views)
Contributor

Re: International data plan billing

I just had the same thing happen to me.  The very helpful service rep I just spoke with is putting in a credit request since AT&T's extremely counter-intuitive billing policy was never explained to me when I added the international roaming feature.  But she did say that I should be aware going forward that AT&T's policy is that one should leave their international roaming in place for 90 days (i.e., for three useless months) in order to be sure that they are covered when the billing info from the overseas carrier finally reaches AT&T.  This may, in fact, be AT&T's policy, but it is absurd.  Unless it is in writing somewhere as a formal requirement of adding the International Roaming Plan, I assume the customer will always be able to disconnect the service upon return from overseas and then, upon receiving a roaming bill that vastly overcharges the customer, fix the problem in one of three ways:  (i) call in and get a credit; (ii) if that is denied, pay the bill, but contest the charge on your credit card; or (iii) exercise whatever arbitration clause is presumably contained in the AT&T Subscriber Agreement.  All three are a pain, with the last one being so much of a pain that you'd need a pretty big bill to make it worth it, but I really find it hard to imagine that any outside observer (e.g., the credit card company or the abritrator) is going to accept AT&T's answer that the service can be cancelled or added month-to-month, but their billing system is such that if you don't carry it for 90 extra days, they'll go ahead and charge you for the period you had it, but give you none of the credit for having had it.  Someone inside AT&T's billing department may have decided that that makes sense, but nobody outside is going to agree.
Message 12 of 16 (8,169 Views)
Expert

Re: International data plan billing



mal5z wrote:
     I just had the same thing happen to me.  The very helpful service rep I just spoke with is putting in a credit request since AT&T's extremely counter-intuitive billing policy was never explained to me when I added the international roaming feature.  But she did say that I should be aware going forward that AT&T's policy is that one should leave their international roaming in place for 90 days (i.e., for three useless months) in order to be sure that they are covered when the billing info from the overseas carrier finally reaches AT&T.  This may, in fact, be AT&T's policy, but it is absurd.  Unless it is in writing somewhere as a formal requirement of adding the International Roaming Plan, I assume the customer will always be able to disconnect the service upon return from overseas and then, upon receiving a roaming bill that vastly overcharges the customer, fix the problem in one of three ways:  (i) call in and get a credit; (ii) if that is denied, pay the bill, but contest the charge on your credit card; or (iii) exercise whatever arbitration clause is presumably contained in the AT&T Subscriber Agreement.  All three are a pain, with the last one being so much of a pain that you'd need a pretty big bill to make it worth it, but I really find it hard to imagine that any outside observer (e.g., the credit card company or the abritrator) is going to accept AT&T's answer that the service can be cancelled or added month-to-month, but their billing system is such that if you don't carry it for 90 extra days, they'll go ahead and charge you for the period you had it, but give you none of the credit for having had it.  Someone inside AT&T's billing department may have decided that that makes sense, but nobody outside is going to agree.

     But it is laid out in the terms and conditions that you mention.
Minute Increment Billing and Usage: Airtime and other measured usage are billed in full-minute increments, and actual airtime and usage are rounded up to the next full increment at the end of each call for billing purposes. AT&T charges a full-minute increment of usage for every fraction of the last minute used on each wireless call. Minutes will be depleted according to usage in the following order: Night and Weekend Minutes, Mobile to Mobile Minutes, Anytime Minutes and Rollover Minutes. Calls placed on networks served by other carriers may take longer to be processed, and billing for these calls may be delayed. Those minutes will be applied against your Anytime monthly minutes in the month in which the calls appear on your bill. Unanswered outgoing calls of 30 seconds or longer incur airtime. You may obtain usage information by calling customer service or using one of our automated systems.
Message 13 of 16 (8,165 Views)
Contributor

Re: International data plan billing

[ Edited ]


wilcre wrote:
 
     But it is laid out in the terms and conditions that you mention.
Minute Increment Billing and Usage: Airtime and other measured usage are billed in full-minute increments, and actual airtime and usage are rounded up to the next full increment at the end of each call for billing purposes. AT&T charges a full-minute increment of usage for every fraction of the last minute used on each wireless call. Minutes will be depleted according to usage in the following order: Night and Weekend Minutes, Mobile to Mobile Minutes, Anytime Minutes and Rollover Minutes. Calls placed on networks served by other carriers may take longer to be processed, and billing for these calls may be delayed. Those minutes will be applied against your Anytime monthly minutes in the month in which the calls appear on your bill. Unanswered outgoing calls of 30 seconds or longer incur airtime. You may obtain usage information by calling customer service or using one of our automated systems.


It's definitely a similar concept, but by its own terms, that provision only applies to calls, not data.  It deals with "Calls" and "minutes."   I'm checking the portion of the agreement that refers to data.  Maybe there is something similar. 


Message Edited by mal5z on 10-20-2008 09:00:13 AM
Message 14 of 16 (8,159 Views)
Contributor

Re: International data plan billing



mal5z wrote:

It's definitely a similar concept, but by its own terms, that provision only applies to calls, not data.  It deals with "Calls" and "minutes."   I'm checking the portion of the agreement that refers to data.  Maybe there is something similar. 


Here is what I found from that same agreement with respect to data roaming:
 

Roaming: Roaming charges for wireless data or voice service may be charged with some plans when outside AT&T's wireless network.  Display on your device will not indicate whether you will incur roaming charges. Services originated or received while outside your plan's included coverage area are subject to roaming charges. Use of Services when roaming is dependent upon roaming carrier's support of applicable network technology and functionality. Check with roaming carriers individually for support and coverage details. Billing for domestic and international roaming usage may be delayed up to three billing cycles due to reporting between carriers. If your usage of the Services on other carriers' wireless networks ("offnet usage") during any two consecutive months exceeds your offnet usage allowance, AT&T may at its option terminate your wireless service or access to data Services, deny your continued use of other carriers' coverage, or change your plan to one imposing usage charges for offnet usage.  Your offnet usage allowance is equal to the lesser of 6 megabytes or 20% of the kilobytes included with your plan and for messaging plans the lesser of 3000 messages or 50% of the messages included with your plan.  AT&T will provide notice that it intends to take any of the above actions and you may terminate your agreement.  You may be required to (1) use a device programmed with AT&T's preferred roaming database; and (2) have a mailing address and live in the United States, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands.

So, the agreement certainly warns you that you may need to wait a few months to have international roaming usage reported on your bill, but it doesn't even hint at the counter-intuitive policy that when the useage is reported, it will be applied based on whether you have an International Roaming plan in place at that moment, not whether you had one in place at the time the data was actually used.  And since AT&T is fully capable of explaining the counter-intuitive policy in the context of calls and minutes (see above), the fact that they didn't do so with respect to data supports the argument that, as a contractual matter, no such policy exists.  But maybe I missed language somewhere else in the agreement. 
 
Unfortunately, if anyone from AT&T reads this, I suspect all I've done here is give them legal counsel on how to amend their agreement to successfully screw unwitting customers.    
Message 15 of 16 (8,153 Views)
Share this topic
Announcements

Welcome to the AT&T Community Forums!!! Stop by the Community How-To section for tips on how to get started.