Eliminating outrageous roaming fees
Darcy Wintonyk and Lynda Steele, ctvbc.ca
Published Tuesday, March 13, 2012 11:14AM PDT
Philipp Postrehovsky was hit with $500 in roaming fees on his last cell phone bill after taking two trips south of the border.
The Vancouverite had uploaded a few photos of Seattle's Space Needle on New Year's Eve and that alone cost him $80.
"You just feel mad, because you feel it's just outrageous right?" he said.
Postrehovsky is among many cell phone users being burned by massive roaming rates and data fees.
The major four telecomm companies -- Rogers, Bell, Virgin and Telus -- all charge $1.45 a minute for calls made in the U.S. All charge $6 per megabyte of data, with the exception of Telus, which charges half of that.
The company actually cut roaming rates by 60 per cent after negotiating deals with some 200 carriers around the world, says spokesperson Shawn Hall.
"We send a text message to customers letting them know what the local roaming rates are -- letting them know when they've hit a certain mark so that they have the opportunity to avoid that," Hall told CTV's Steele on Your Side.
For its part, Bell says customers can buy prepaid roaming packages that cut rates dramatically. A $15 pre-paid plan will lower talk rates to $1 per minute, while a $100 prepaid plan can have calls for as low as 25 cents a minute. Customers planning a trip can visit its website before they leave for tips on saving money.
Koodo charges $1.40 per minute for calls and $3 per megabyte of data used. Wind Mobile is the cheapest at 25 cents a call and $1 per megabyte.
A Vancouver-based mobility company, Roam Mobility, just teamed up with T-Mobile in the U.S. to launch a new service that eliminates roaming charges for Canadians by using a special SIM card.
When you swap in its SIM card south of the border you'll enjoy local calling rates.
"This service is actually designed exclusively for Canadians," said CEO Emir Aboulhosen.
"When Canadians are using our service, they're not actually roaming -- they're using a local service designed just for them."
All talk and text plans are unlimited starting at $2 a day, and data plans run as low as two cents a megabyte.
Roam Mobility says its roaming plans offer savings of up to 99 per cent compared to other Canadian carriers -- and offers 96 per cent coverage in the U.S.
Postrehovsky is intrigued by the roaming options, but has a warning for other cell phone users going on vacation.
"The lesson learned is even if you're tempted to turn on your data -- don't do it," he said.
Sadly, Postrehovsky's $500 cell phone bill pales in comparison to some other bills reported lately.
A family from Saskatchewan recently got home from vacation in Arizona to find a $10,000 cell phone bill. The parents had been letting their kids stream movies on Netflix without realizing there would be roaming charges.
Last October, a Florida woman says T-Mobile charged her $210,000 for roaming charges on a trip to Canada.
Watch CTV tonight for the full report from Lynda Steele, and helpful tips about how to keep your phone bills low…
Have your say: Have you been burned by roaming fees and data charges?