Maria Francis, Sacramento Woman, Gets Slammed With $1,558.95 Verizon Bill, Claims Phone Was Off (VIDEO)
It turns out roaming charges really can roam.
Maria Francis, a Sacramento woman, says she turned off her cell phone while on a cruise abroad and still got soaked with a $1,558.95 bill from Verizon.
"I was going to throw up," Francis told CBS in Sacramento, describing her reaction to the bill.
The surprise greeted Francis when she and her husband returned to American soil after the Mediterranean voyage. When she flicked on her phone, she received several texts from the mobile carrier warning her about severe roaming charges. Verizon employees had assured her before the trip that her phone wouldn't work, Francis explained. And she swears she had turned the phone off.
Francis isn't the first consumer to be greeted by bill shock upon returning home from vacation.
John Gibson of Weyburn, Sasketchewan, was hit with a mobile bill for more than $10,000 upon returning home from a family vacation to Arizona after his kids used his mobile broadband card to stream Netflix videos on his laptop.
As it turns out, Francis' bill nightmare didn't end up costing her much more than some frustration. Verizon withdrew the charge after CBS Sacramento's consumer reporter began investigating the story.
“I’ve learned a lot," she said to CBS. "I’ve learned never take your phone to Europe."
Frommers advises travelers to power off handheld devises to avoid international roaming fees. Of course, this wasn't a fool-proof line of defense in Francis' case, as the phone can accidentally turn on and begin incurring fees.
All you need is a local wi-fi connection for the many downloadable applications on your computer and smartphone: Skype, Viber, and WhatsApp are just a few. photo by Nancy Jones
The hefty charges incurred from streaming data via your wireless network when you're outside your data roaming zone can result in a post-vacation nightmare. photo by Bryan Gosline
Turn off the function that makes your phone automatically update applications and receive emails. Wireless provider AT&T offers these instructions on how to disable auto-check for different smartphone devices.
Turning on this function will enable you to use the camera, video, games and music capabilities on your device without incurring charges from accidentally picking up network signals. (h/t The Telegraph)
This will disable your device from streaming data when you're outside your zone, but will still allow voice calls. AT&T provides instructions on how to turn off data roaming functionality on smartphones.
Renting a local phone might be a cost-effective option if you're making an extended trip to another country. (h/t The Wall Street Journal)
A portable wireless adaptor will allow you to create your own wi-fi connection through your computer. (h/t The Wall Street Journal) photo by Qurren
Call your phone provider to find out different wireless package options. Some companies offer reduced rates if you change your plan before traveling. (h/t The Wall Street Journal)
If you can unlock your phone or buy an unlocked cell, replacing your removable SIM card to a local one will enable you to use the wireless network in another country. (h/t The Wall Street Journal) photo by Luke2511
The price of incoming calls are frequently much less than the cost of outgoing. If that's the case with your plan, ask your friends and relatives to call you while you're travelling. (h/t The Wall Street Journal)