Consumerwatch: Roaming fees
Published Monday, July 16, 2012 11:04AM CST
Last Updated Monday, July 16, 2012 12:08PM CST
Having the convenience of a cellphone on a long trip can ease travel-related stress, but it can also end in an extremely high bill at the end of the month.
Ernest Smith travelled to Italy several months ago and wanted to be able to use his phone to check email, surf the Internet and use Facebook – but he didn’t want to pay high roaming fees.
“I purchased a travel pack for 25 megabytes, which I thought was enough to last me a week,” said Smith. “But it didn’t.”
Smith paid $100 for the 25 megabyte pack from Rogers Wireless and said it barely lasted a single day. When he returned home,he ended up with a bill of more than $300 for less than one week of data usage.
Smith said he posted about six pictures on Facebook and wasn’t expecting the hefty price tag.
Doug Ross of Visual Lizard Web Design said he’s not surprised by the big bill. Ross said while many people are familiar with calculating the cost of minutes or text messages, most are unaware of how many megabytes they use on a smartphone.
“Just to give you an example, if I have an iPhone, I take a picture of you and if I don’t compress that, that’s a two megabyte file,” said Ross. “So if you’re on a 25 megabyte plan, you can load eight and a half pictures. Then your plan is done.”
Ross said on average a photo takes two to three megabytes, a song or game uses about four megabytes, a single Internet page uses about one megabyte and viewing content on YouTube will run about one megabyte per minute. Downloading a song or a game uses about four megabytes of data.
With Smith’s plan, that meant a single photo was costing him between $8 and $12.
“You have to be careful what plan you’re in -- if it’s a text message plan, if it’s a phone plan, if it’s a data plan,” said Ross. “If you sign up for one, the other two may not be covered.”
A spokesperson for Rogers told CTV it is constantly negotiating with its roaming partners around the world to offer the best possible rates to its customers. Rogers also said it provides a data calculator on its website and sends text messages to customers with how much data they have used.
But for Smith, the information came too late.
“I’m done now,” said Smith. Smith said he will keep his phone off when traveling in the future.
Ross said if travellers want to avoid paying hefty data usage fees while travelling, they should attempt to find places with free Wi-Fi and surf the web there only. He also suggests making sure your phone isn’t set to roaming, or it could pick up the local wireless carrier and result in a massive bill.