Pat Foran: Beware roaming fees to avoid 'monster bills'
Most Canadians wouldn’t think twice about taking their smartphones, iPads and tablets with them on a vacation out of the country. But consumers would be well-advised to give that decision -- and the costs attached to it -- some careful consideration.
“It used to be that you had to worry about long distance charges. Then you needed to worry about roaming charges. Now it’s data charges,” CTV’s Consumer Reporter Pat Foran said on Thursday on CTV’s Canada AM.
“So many of us are tempted to take our tablets and smartphones with us when we go on holiday. But if you don’t have the right data plan before you go you’ll get hit with a monster bill when you come home.”
Earlier this year, Canadian Russ Moyer learned that lesson when he returned home from a 10-day trip to Israel.
The president of a Christian ministry had taken his iPad with him, but had not disable the data roaming before he left on his trip.
Moyer later found a bill of $9,380 waiting for him up his return home.
Moyer’s bill was eventually reduced to $1,600. Regardless, “That’s a lot of money to pay,” said Foran.
To avoid such difficulties, consumers need to understand certain basics about the usage of mobile devices according to Foran.
Whenever consumers use mobile devices outside of Canada they are subject to roaming fees.
Such fees can be incurred when consumers email, make phone calls, text messages, browse the web, stream video, download and upload photos and visit social media site.
As well, if consumers have apps on their mobile devices some will update data regularly -- even when they are not being used.
To avoid this pitfall, set apps to download manually, not automatically.
Consumers should also know their data plan before they leave home. This is especially if they are leaving the country, according to Foran.
“Make sure to call your provider before you leave home,” said Foran.
Travellers should ask their service providers about cost-cutting options that are available while roaming. They can also enquire about receiving real-time alerts that will allow them to regularly monitor their data usage.
Being aware of roaming charges is another key component to smart travel, said Foran.
To prevent high roaming fees charges, determine how your mobile devices will be used on holiday and gauge that usage accordingly. Remember, roaming fees will be incurred for almost any type of usage.
Finally, monitor your bills once you return home.
“Keep a close eye on your bills for any discrepancies and outrageous charges,” said Foran.
If problems are spotted call your service provider immediately. If you do receive a budget-busting bill, negotiate with your service provider, said Foran. Most companies will forgive the costs or part of them if it’s a first-time misunderstanding.