R23,000 unexpected international data roaming charge

lukewd

Active Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2010
Messages
58
I just returned from my visit to Australia and received an SMS from Cell C saying my account was blocked as I had reached the limit on my account. I quickly called customer services to find out what was going on, and they told me there was a R23,000 pending balance on my account. They looked into it a bit further and it showed the vast majority of this amount was for international data roaming charges. I was then told they charge R351.55 per MB for data roaming in Australia. This amount is absolutely obscene.

Cell C are not clear and do not make their customers aware of the high fees for international data roaming. No person in their right mind would accept or make use of a service thats charges R351.55 per MB, no matter how wealthy they are. Cell C should therefore not be partnering with overseas networks who charge rates like this. Cell C are irresponsible for putting their customers in a position with such extreme potential financial liability, without their knowledge.

If Cell C continue to offer international data roaming at these rates, they should send the user a warning via SMS as soon as you join the network. Then they should continue to SMS you as you incur charges.

In this modern day in age, most users such as myself use a smartphone. If your smartphone has not been connected to any data network for several days, it could quite easily use tens or hundreds of megabytes of data without you actually doing anything on the phone.

I personally incurred a R23,000 bill after attempting to use international data roaming in one single session in an emergency in Australia. The data connection was so bad, I couldn't even achieve what I urgently needed to do (some online banking). R23,000 for 65mb of data is INSANE! Cell C should not allow their customers to put themselves in this position.

The irony of it is that I even purchased a local sim card to avoid high roaming fees. The local sim card ran out of credit the day before I left which is why I used the international roaming on my Cell C sim in an emergency on my last day.

Can anyone please offer any advice on how this can be handled? There is no way I can pay this insane charge. Has anyone had a similar experience?
 

Ancalagon

Honorary Master
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
Messages
18,004
It is insane, but everyone knows international data roaming is insane. Use wifi or buy a SIM over there.

Unfortunately I think you need to lube up for this one.
 

lukewd

Active Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2010
Messages
58
I did both those things as I know data roaming is costly, but this is INSANE... It was for a once off emergency usage. I seriously don't think it should be legal for them to allow customers to put themselves in this position.
 

lukewd

Active Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2010
Messages
58
Is there nothing in the Consumer Protection Act to protect someone this?
 

AstroTurf

Lucky Shot
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May 13, 2010
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28,383
Happened to one of the guys that works here, around 2/3 years ago.

He is still fighting it (he did pay though).

This is why my old talk radio goes with me when I travel.
 

Cicero

Expert Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2010
Messages
2,286
This is why I like top up contracts.

What an unfortunate cockup.

How do you even rack up 65MB whilst trying to do banking anyway? Surely thats not all you did? Were you using your phone and it decided to update a few apps or something at the same time?
 

Xino_sam

Expert Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2012
Messages
1,736
I just returned from my visit to Australia and received an SMS from Cell C saying my account was blocked as I had reached the limit on my account. I quickly called customer services to find out what was going on, and they told me there was a R23,000 pending balance on my account. They looked into it a bit further and it showed the vast majority of this amount was for international data roaming charges. I was then told they charge R351.55 per MB for data roaming in Australia. This amount is absolutely obscene.
.....

Can anyone please offer any advice on how this can be handled? There is no way I can pay this insane charge. Has anyone had a similar experience?

Have you received any SMS's or any other comuniquation from Cell C when you were abroad?
 

Bryn

Doubleplusgood
Joined
Oct 29, 2010
Messages
16,256
I just returned from my visit to Australia and received an SMS from Cell C saying my account was blocked as I had reached the limit on my account. I quickly called customer services to find out what was going on, and they told me there was a R23,000 pending balance on my account. They looked into it a bit further and it showed the vast majority of this amount was for international data roaming charges. I was then told they charge R351.55 per MB for data roaming in Australia. This amount is absolutely obscene.

Cell C are not clear and do not make their customers aware of the high fees for international data roaming. No person in their right mind would accept or make use of a service thats charges R351.55 per MB, no matter how wealthy they are. Cell C should therefore not be partnering with overseas networks who charge rates like this. Cell C are irresponsible for putting their customers in a position with such extreme potential financial liability, without their knowledge.

If Cell C continue to offer international data roaming at these rates, they should send the user a warning via SMS as soon as you join the network. Then they should continue to SMS you as you incur charges.

In this modern day in age, most users such as myself use a smartphone. If your smartphone has not been connected to any data network for several days, it could quite easily use tens or hundreds of megabytes of data without you actually doing anything on the phone.

I personally incurred a R23,000 bill after attempting to use international data roaming in one single session in an emergency in Australia. The data connection was so bad, I couldn't even achieve what I urgently needed to do (some online banking). R23,000 for 65mb of data is INSANE! Cell C should not allow their customers to put themselves in this position.

The irony of it is that I even purchased a local sim card to avoid high roaming fees. The local sim card ran out of credit the day before I left which is why I used the international roaming on my Cell C sim in an emergency on my last day.

Can anyone please offer any advice on how this can be handled? There is no way I can pay this insane charge. Has anyone had a similar experience?

I agree that the charges are unconstitutional, but I have no sympathy. All South Africans should be aware by now of the insane cost of roaming. Unless you have a roaming plan with your provider, your sim card shouldn't even touch your phone while you're abroad. If you can't comply, then the least you should do is find out what the potential charges could be before leaving SA. You've learned the hard way not to make rookie errors when traveling.
 

MKFrost

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Joined
Oct 23, 2012
Messages
3,837
Don't know why people still make use of roaming. Before I leave to venture across the water I inform everybody that I will only be available via email and as soon as I land on the other side I just get a prepaid sim with some data and I'm sorted.

The risks in regards to roaming is just to big especially if you are on a contract as it seems most service providers only start blocking you [if ever] once you are already so deep in the ****** that you can no longer help yourself.
 

Maverick Jester

The Special One
Joined
Oct 18, 2011
Messages
13,424
65Mb of data for online banking? Are you sure?

Their website is pretty clear on what the roaming charges are, per country.

Why did you not just go to an internet cafe or the like?

Sorry mate, while your situation is unfortunate, you have to own up to this one being your mistake.
 

biometrics

Honorary Master
Joined
Aug 7, 2003
Messages
71,861
I did both those things as I know data roaming is costly, but this is INSANE... It was for a once off emergency usage. I seriously don't think it should be legal for them to allow customers to put themselves in this position.

I received no SMS's from Cell C whilst abroad.

If you used a local sim you wouldn't have received an sms from Cell C surely?
 

MKFrost

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Joined
Oct 23, 2012
Messages
3,837
Networks should implement a 'hard cap' on say R1,000 to R5,000 and if you want anything more than that you must apply for the cap to be lifted in writing by either submitting a form online and or at a retail outlet of the service provider.

Doubt whether we will see this as that would mean that the service provider actually cared about their clients.
 
F

Fudzy

Guest
Networks should implement a 'hard cap' on say R1,000 to R5,000 and if you want anything more than that you must apply for the cap to be lifted in writing by either submitting a form online and or at a retail outlet of the service provider.

Doubt whether we will see this as that would mean that the service provider actually cared about their clients.

I doubt it's that easy, the reconciliation might be done after the fact.
 

lukewd

Active Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2010
Messages
58
I was away for 2 weeks. For the first 13 days I used the local SIM card to avoid high roaming fees. Towards the end of my trip this local SIM ran out of credit, and I didn't top up because I wasn't expecting to have to use any more data on my phone being so close to the end of my trip.

On the last day whilst waiting at the airport in Sydney, I urgently needed to do some bank transfers, and reply to work emails, so I enabled data roaming. The wifi in Sydney airport was unfortunately also not working on that day, otherwise I would have used that.

I suspect the 65mb was due to other things syncing on the phone such as iCloud Photo Stream :(((
 

MKFrost

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Joined
Oct 23, 2012
Messages
3,837
I doubt it's that easy, the reconciliation might be done after the fact.

How do they then manage to cut off a prepaid service once the balance reaches zero? Surely this can be applied to contract services as well....
 

lukewd

Active Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2010
Messages
58
I agree. There should be a reasonable cap. Allowing me to spend R23,000 in a single session is absurd. I'm going to fight this to the bitter end!
 
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