A $13,000 roaming bill in half an hour? Family fights T-Mobile on international data charges

There have been plenty of complaints about exorbitant international data charges from various carriers, but this fresh story takes the cake. T-Mobile touts that its plans include unlimited international data in more than 200 countries, but the offer comes with so many caveats that it is practically useless in this day and age unless you travel to Mexico and Canada:

A family traveling to Vietnam was perfectly aware that if they want to use data there on their current T-Mobile plan, they may be charged unpleasant roaming fees, so they set their iPhones in airplane mode for the duration. Much to their surprise, however, they received a $13,470 bill for what turned out to be half an hour of internet usage upon investigation.

Granted, it was their son that racked the charges, but he claims that he put his iPhone in airplane mode as well, and played chess during the flight, which, however, didn't require internet connectivity. When T-Mobile saw that the kid hasn't downloaded a movie or streamed anything of substance, they agreed to reduce the charges to $3,800, as data might have been used by background iOS apps without the teen's knowledge. Confronted further by the local ABC affiliate KGO, however, they removed the roaming charges altogether, with the following piece of advice:

via ABC



1. tangbunna

Posts: 491; Member since: Sep 29, 2016

silent worms from most of mobile operators. normally they never notice any users details clearly. they just put " *"

2. andrewc31394

Posts: 302; Member since: Jun 23, 2012

was any of your comment supposed to make sense?

7. worldpeace

Posts: 3135; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Looks like he use translator.

16. lallolu

Posts: 733; Member since: Sep 18, 2012

That translator sucks.

3. Rigmaster

Posts: 234; Member since: Jan 22, 2018

Lost in the details - the data was used but by 'apps' the owners were not aware were active. The always-on phone isn't always best.

4. southernzombie

Posts: 358; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

with the phone in airplane mode it shouldn't have used any sort of data period.

12. izim1

Posts: 1607; Member since: Feb 04, 2013

Yeah this is probably just the kid not knowing that background apps will still use data and not bothering to put it in airplane mode because he figured he just wouldnt open a browser or netflix and it'd be ok. Less work than just flippin the plane switch. Hopefully he learned his lesson.

14. TheOracle1

Posts: 2340; Member since: May 04, 2015

I've never used an iPhone but every Android I've used has a dedicated setting that prevents data roaming to go along with Airplane mode. The moron probably had apps updating automatically on mobile too because he hadn't set it up for wifi only. T-Mobile should have insisted on those retards paying every penny even though their roaming charges are extortionate.

18. southernzombie

Posts: 358; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

iphones have that same setting as well.

5. Soundjudgment

Posts: 370; Member since: Oct 10, 2016


6. Cat97

Posts: 1977; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

The actual problem here is the huge price per megabyte of data. It's really insane, such ripoff shouldn't be allowed by law.

10. worldpeace

Posts: 3135; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

IKR, it's just like a trap waiting for it's prey.. No sane people will consciously use data without any roaming plan.. 13 Grand for half an hour of internet access is crazy, even after they drop it to 3.8 Grand knowing that he use that internet for NOTHING.

8. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

wow I thought my bill of 3500 dollars in one day was bad when I was in the USA

9. Macready

Posts: 1830; Member since: Dec 08, 2014

We used T-mobile One throughout Europe without a problem or charge. Disclaimer: none of us used iPhones...

11. thxultra

Posts: 472; Member since: Oct 16, 2014

My question is do they have a simple choice plan or T-Mobile one plan? If they have one of these Vietnam should be included at no charge although slowed down.

13. BullDozer

Posts: 159; Member since: Dec 18, 2015

This just happens when you have an iphone.

15. matistight

Posts: 1023; Member since: May 13, 2009

1.1GB = $13,000...wtf???

17. legend921

Posts: 3; Member since: Jun 19, 2017

This is due to the high cost per MB of data packet sent that the host nation charges. If they had reviewed the countries that you can get unlimited data with they would have noticed that Vietnam is not on the list.

19. eelpout

Posts: 34; Member since: Oct 13, 2016

yeah that's odd, if they had a Simple Choice/One plan, data in Vietnam is covered; they must be on a different plan or maybe went into an area that T-Mobile didn't have a contract for. I'm on an ancient grandfathered T-Mobile plan myself and have to be careful since international data isn't covered. I usually make myself go into a local carrier shop and pick up a 5-10GB data sim for $10 whenever I travel now.

20. strategic_developer

Posts: 1627; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

The smart thing to do is take a unlocked phone or buy one when you arrive. Buy a SIM in that country and use it. PROBLEM SOLVED. Dump people using smart phones!


Posts: 1; Member since: Aug 29, 2018

I got stung in a similar way on my sim $10 a day howeverit only gave me a 100mb data so when i got home I hade the $10 a day $100 for a 10 day trip plus $400 of extra data charges this is why I changed. I know use a combo of a wifi app and sim from united networks. They have some free promo codes on the web I used one a while ago not sure if it still works "IMFLYING" whilst Wi-Fi is not everywhere like cellular it is still helpful when it connects.

22. deewinc

Posts: 455; Member since: Feb 21, 2013

Airplane mode is supposed to switch off any form of data use. I guess something is wrong somewhere.

23. Luigy04

Posts: 35; Member since: Sep 09, 2014

On the Tmobile website is an option to check when you are traveling if the country is added to the simple global feature, most people don't care and that kid 100% sure he download something if you consider that a MB on an airplane cost $15.00 he used 898 mb in that time and most probably wasn't 1/2 hour, he didn't download a movie or stream netflix but he download games because he was using the mobile hotspot of his device and downloading games on his Nintendo switch

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