Sticker shock: Talk is cheap; data cost much.

One can easily be lulled into thinking that all’s right with the world.

I got the shock of my life yesterday when I checked my BlackBerry mobile phone bill online: I saw a figure of US$770 due for the month. What the …? My bill has been about US$40 each month since I had this account with T-Mobile. Very reasonable. Now, I had that account with just a phone line for about 2 years (so that I could have a readily available US phone number when I came here), and changed that plan to include data services when I returned recently to live in the US.

I had to call and check if my line had been pirated because I had had some strange text messages and a lot of wrong number calls coming to the phone. No. Bad news: data roaming charges made up almost all of that large amount. So, while I had been gleefully celebrating my wife’s big-up birthday in The Bahamas and sending pictures to Facebook and using email and blogging on my phone when I could not get access to an Internet connection at my in-laws, I had glibly assumed that I was not racking up  huge costs. Wrong!

Now, I make no bones about being a bit forthcoming when I feel that I have been stiffed by a service provider. I like to give credit where it is due, too. When I was living in Barbados, during the past three years, I had more than one occasion to have a serious talk to the local mobile phone provider I used there, LIME (formerly, Cable and Wireless). Every problem I raised with them was resolved satisfactorily, though sometimes with a few teeth being pulled. One of their great features was something called “Passport for Blackberry”, which provided unlimited dat roaming for a monthly fee equivalent to US$20. I never had to think about making any changes to my phone set up when I got on a plane. So, why could I not have the same set-up in the good old US of A? I would not like to think that it’s because it’s a great money spinner 🙂

Well, the friendly male operative at T-Mobile went over the bill and charges with me, and in the calmest voice stated that “Yes, it’s the data roaming that’s the problem.” But, no, T-Mobile does not have an equivalent scheme to LIME’s ‘Passport’. I asked why. I’m always intrigued when one kind of service is offered in one jurisdiction and not in another. I got no real answer, but was told how I could disconnect data communication on my phone, or call and have T-Mobile give me some international plan for about US$20 that would provide unlimited data roaming for no additional charge. I thought about that and, not being all that satisfied, asked again. This time a very nice lady named Adrian (spelt like the boy’s name, she said gladly) tried to help me. We agreed that we did not need to fight and discussed all the options. Bottom line: I have to do a lot to make sure that I do not use the Internet on my BB when I travel. Will I remember? Maybe. But, iI put it to her to suggest to her corporate big ups that something like LIME’s ‘Passport’ should be offered. She thought that a great idea. Her mission, which she accepted, was to follow-up with me to say what reaction that got. She promised to call next week. I will be looking forward to that call, and will surely report how it goes, and even more, if it does not happen.

There we were carping on about how terrible LIME was, but not knowing that there were more villains lurking to pick our pockets. It might even have made sense to keep my old LIME Barbados account and roam on the Internet in the US! That is crazy.

Commitment is about action not about words. Talk is cheap.


About The Grasshopper

Professional international economist, recently retired from an international organization. I use blogging as a way of organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, and spent many years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for a few decades, and worked and travelled abroad extensively. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of girls. Also, married to an economist.
This entry was posted in Blogging, Bureaucracy, Service economy, Travel and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Sticker shock: Talk is cheap; data cost much.

  1. Kammie says:

    Thanks Dennis, I enjoyed the article and tweeted to my followers.

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