A New Zealand man was fired from his job for racking up a bill of over $23,000 on his company-issued cell phone during a three-week holiday in Sri Lanka. International roaming charges made up $23,350 of the bill, with just $6 spent on international calls and texts. Around 1.5GB of data was used.
I’m sure it was quite a shock when the man was confronted at work about those charges. Although things turned out better for him than might be expected: “The man was not given a fair chance to explain his bill, so the company was ordered to pay him $6,000 in compensation for ‘loss of dignity and injury to his feelings,'” reports Henry Cooke in Stuff NZ. Cooke also reports, “The company’s counterclaim, which sought orders to make the man pay the bill himself, failed.”
I’m going to assume we don’t have the full story about the phone bill, particularly as it relates to the service provider’s transparency and the employer’s own complicity. Regardless, if you’re headed out of the country and want to keep your phone bill under control, read our definitive guide to avoiding international roaming charges. In summary, first, make sure you know how to turn off all of your phone’s roaming capabilities—airplane mode usually accomplishes this.
Next, many companies offer international rate plans—review your options; or, if you have a compatible phone, you can get a SIM card once you’re in country and pay local rates. You can also purchase a prepaid phone if yours won’t work for your purposes. For those of us in the U.S., there’s T-Mobile, with a plan that will get you free data roaming and texting, now in more than 140 countries; Google’s Project Fi, which is still in the invitation phase, is similar, but rides on two types of networks and includes low-cost international calling.