[FoRK] Thinking of taking an iPhone on an international trip?

Sat N <sateesh.narahari at gmail.com> on Mon Sep 10 09:23:50 PDT 2007

Even if it is just to brag internationally about iPhone, even if you
just want to listen to the music on a long international flight, its
going to cost you.


http://www.newsday.com/business/ny-bzappl0908,0,2929341.story?coll=ny_home_rail_headlines

Hewlett Harbor man racks up $4,800 iPhone bill

BY RICHARD J. DALTON, JR. | richard.dalton at newsday.com
    6:49 PM EDT, September 7, 2007

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Jay Levy and his family took their iPhones on a Mediterranean cruise.
Now the Hewlett Harbor entrepreneur feels as if he got taken for a
ride, receiving a 54-page monthly bill of nearly $4,800 from AT&T
Wireless.

While Levy, his wife and his daughter were enjoying the trip, and even
while they were sleeping, their three iPhones were racking up a bill
for data charges. The iPhone regularly updates e-mail, even while it's
off, so that all the messages will be available when the user turns it
on.

"They have periodic updates on their data files, and they translate
into megabucks," Levy said. "This is akin to your bank having
automatic access to your ATM machine and is siphoning money out during
all times of the day and night without your knowledge."

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Levy and his daughter each have three e-mail accounts on their
iPhones, and they were each billed more than $1,900.

His wife's phone had one e-mail account, and her bill hit $890. One
connection alone ran $223. Levy said he has complained all the way to
office of AT&T's president.

Data transfers are not a problem domestically, where the AT&T Wireless
plan includes unlimited data transfers for the iPhone.

But the iPhone's international plan in 29 countries, mostly in Europe,
costs $24.99 for 20 megabytes. In countries outside the plan, charges
can run from $5 to $20 per megabyte, said Ben Wilson, editor of iPhone
Atlas, a Web site owned by the online news company CNet.

"It was a big surprise," Wilson said. "Consumers didn't expect that
the charges were going to be so high and that the phone was going to
be doing all this data transfer in the background that they weren't
aware of."

Herbert Kliegerman, 68, a real-estate agent from the Bronx, said he
incurred $2,000 while visiting Mexico. He filed a lawsuit seeking
class-action status in New York State Supreme Court last week,
alleging that Apple did not properly disclose the international
roaming charges.

AT&T Wireless offered to refund $1,500 to Kliegerman, but he said
that's not good enough. "I want a full refund," he said.

Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said the company adequately discloses
the potential charges on the Web site and when the phone is activated.

The 6,707-word terms and conditions document on the AT&T Web site
says: "Substantial charges may be incurred if phone is taken out of
the U.S. even if no services are intentionally used."

Kliegerman said said most people don't read the lengthy terms and
conditions. Furthermore, the rate plans listed on the site indicate
"unlimited data (Email/Web)," without an asterisk. He said that's
misleading.

Kliegerman's lawyer, Randall S. Newman of Manhattan, said about 15
people from around the country have called him complaining of
international roaming charges and the inability to unlock the phone to
use it with another carrier.

Apple hasn't yet released the iPhone abroad. Levy said he didn't
expect data transfer charges internationally because he believed the
data network in Europe wasn't compatible with the iPhone. The Levys
brought their phones with them for voice calls.

Other smartphones also automatically update e-mail and other data such
as weather and stock prices, but those phones offer a wider variety of
international pricing plans in more countries than is available on the
iPhone, AT&T Wireless spokeswoman Ellen Webner said.

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