19 April 2011

Done roaming – a cautionary tale

You would think, with the amount of travelling I do, that I would have sussed out the confusing world of mobile phone roaming charges. Evidently not, as my recent phone bill from Orange shows. I seem to have fallen into a classic trap of getting severely stung by extortionate roaming charges while abroad. And all thanks to a rubbish little app.

Ever since I got my first BlackBerry, I have been careful to buy additional travel data bundles that would allow me to access my emails without spending a small fortune. The trouble started when I apparently responded to an Orange text while I was in France early this year. As I was approaching the limit of my travel bundle, Orange asked me if I wanted my roaming limit lifted. Although I don't remember sending the text, Orange maintains that I did – even though I hadn't reached my data bundle limit. And no one pointed out that lifting the limit is for all time – not just for that trip.

Two trips to France later, I came home to find a massive bill, even though I had bought data bundles. What on earth was causing my phone to rack up this huge bill? I always turned off the updating facility on Twitter, for example, and even deleted the official Twitter for BlackBerry app that didn't give you this option.

Then I remembered that I had downloaded the only free BlackBerry app that tracks the number of Boris bikes that are in London's docking stations. The default setting meant that the app was merrily updating itself EVERY 30 SECONDS while I was in France. How can I have been such an idiot not to check all the settings? I've since deleted the app (which didn't work very well anyway), put the roaming limit back in place and bought another data bundle for my trip next month. If I bust the limit, so be it. Bear that in mind if I don't respond to your emails relatively quickly.

Right, must get back to work and make some money to start paying off this monstrous bill. By the way, has anyone figured out quite why mobile phone companies charge such ridiculous amounts for roaming? I'd like to hear a rational answer.

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