As many of you know, Amy and Caitlyn went on a mission trip to the Ukraine last month. My mom went as well. Before they went on the trip, while they were still stateside, they planned on Twittering/TwitPicing/Emailing people back in the states, so we started researching how to get their iPhones to work in Ukraine.
Amy spoke briefly with someone at AT&T customer service via phone weeks before Amy/Caitlyn/mom left, and encouraged us to get AT&T's International Data Plan. 100 megs of data for roughly $100... sure, why not. Amy specifically asked the AT&T person about the country of Ukraine, and we were told Ukraine would be covered. The person at AT&T cautioned us to set up the plan on the day of departure, so we would not be charged for International Data Plan while they were in the US.
A couple days later, Amy and I are walking through the Falls Shopping Center and we walk past the AT&T store there by the Movie Theater. We stop in and talk to their employees, discussing the trip. We specifically discuss Ukraine, so much so the employees pull up the country on Google Maps. After hearing of Amy's travel plans AT&T employees again recommended the same International Data Plan as the person on the phone did earlier. 100 megs of data for $100 should be plenty for Amy while she is overseas.
On the day of Amy/Caitlyn/mom's departure, I call AT&T Customer Service to add the International Data Plan to their phone numbers. Standard Customer Service could not do it, I had to speak to the International Department. International Department could activate it. I discussed Ukraine with them and the International Data Plan would be fine. The plan was added to my account.
Once the group finally arrived in Kiev, Amy started to use the Internet features of her iPhone. She received a text message warning her that the data was not covered. She stops what she was doing and calls me to check on the data package. I stop what I'm doing (if you know me, you know I NEVER stop what I'm doing unless it's an emergency) and call AT&T where I am told that her package will cover International Data fine.
Jeff: "In Ukraine?"
Customer Service: "Yes, in Ukraine."
Jeff: "What about the text messages."
Customer Service: "Maybe it's a scam. Don't worry. You won't be charged anything but the Data Package."
Fearing I was not getting the right answer, I asked her to note my account that I was calling in about this issue.
Amy returns back to the US w/o problem. She maybe used 70megs of data while she was overseas. Mom was a little more active (think she had her phone checking email all day long). She used 120megs. So, we expected our standard phone bill, plus a couple data packages, and mom's overage.
Instead, we get a $3087.93 phone bill. The International Data Plan, according to AT&T customer service, does NOT cover Ukraine. In fact, there are limited countries that their International Data Plan applies to. Ukraine is not one of these countries. So essentially Amy's and Mom's phones were "roaming" data for 3 weeks. Ouch.
I'm okay that it doesn't cover countries like the Ukraine. I do find it unfortunate that I had to go through four customer service techs to find one that knew what she was talking about (and that was only AFTER the damage was done).
And now, even though we were thorough checking beforehard, we are stuck with a $3,000 cell phone bill... one that is 10x as much as our normal monthly charge. AT&T is currently evaluating my claim and will make a ruling soon if they are going to stick me with the current bill.
If you know me, you know I am a HUGE Apple Fanboy. The iPhone has revolutionized my life. But if AT&T sticks me with this bill I will drop AT&T/iPhone quicker than you can say "Blackberry". Verizon, please get the iPhone soon!
Ironically there were other people on the trip that unlocked their iPhones, and bought sim cards with data plans from Ukrainian phone vendors. They had no problems whatsoever. Thanks, AT&T. Your ignorance continues to punish people who attempt to do the right thing.
AT&T, when you read this, please contact XXXXXXXXXX to discuss my account.
UPDATE 08/06/09, 11:30pm || I spoke with AT&T Mobility "Office of the President" today. The problem is resolved and back to an acceptable amount. To read more about this, check out "The Story of my Shrinking $3,000 AT&T Wireless Phone Bill."