Traveling Abroad with AT&T / Cingular, be Warned

I’ve been an AT&T/Cingular customer for ages. When it was AT&T Wireless, when it was sold to Cingular, when Cingular was bought back into AT&T proper. I’ve really never had an issue with service or discussions with them. Until now.

While recently on Grand Cayman I was astounded to find that there was a Cingular tower on the island. I thought to myself this is wonderful that ATT / Cingular has made headway from the US Virgin Islands and I can use them here, right on! During my stay my iPhone was mostly on other peoples wireless network, but what little I did use to check my email, maybe a google map, and a few quick calls stateside ran me a bill along $480USD.

14 kilobytes of data. Roughly 4 emails worth of simple data ran about $35 USD a K. Highway robbery. The telco calls were cheaper by far. I could not believe my eyes.

I decided to dispute the charges because AT&T had not broadcasted on the network that there would be a rate hike, and that since service from the states to the island was so ubiquitous/seamless I felt that there was deception at play. If I got caught in this web, you know others will.

The rep and I had a long and pretty good call. We even figured out that the alpha tag of ‘Cingular’ was technically no longer in service and At&t should have been the only tags for me to see. This means that someone on or off the island is playing a real game of deception. The ticket was elevated and I waited a few days.

Today I got a call back from the rep saying that ATT passed down that the responsibility of the customer to know the difference in these matters is what is important and that I was basically being locked out of any disputes.

So attention consumers, the wireless networks don’t care if you are conned while away from home. It’s your responsibility to know that there is a con and to not fall in to it. If you do find yourself conned they will not care, and you will be stuck with a disproportional bill that can not be disputed or reduced. With today’s locked in contracts you’re pretty much as screwed as you can be. Be very wary.

I also learned a little anecdotal story that there are international carrier barges that float around the gulf hoping to grab land cell users in their roaming web. I find it astonishing that they are not going after these and other guileless plans to take your and my money.

I feel like this is a pretty cut and dry case of international fraud and while I can’t seem to be able to do anything about it maybe you can protect yourself from such damages.

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