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Verizon’s roaming plan slammed by customers over unexpected $1,000 bills

Verizon roaming

Like most carriers, Verizon has moved away from pricey per-MB roaming plans and towards systems that charge a set rate per day. The $10-per-day TravelPass program oh-so-generously lets you use your regular data plan in over 100 countries worldwide.

It’s supposed to mean low bills and hassle-free roaming, but some customers who’ve come home to four-figure bills claim it’s anything but.

The NYPost has been in contact with several Verizon customers who have mysteriously received bills for roaming charges incurred in Jordan, even though they never went into the country. Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind, Refoel Silberberg, and Sarah Moskowitz all reported getting massive charges for roaming in Jordan, supposedly incurred when visiting Israel over the last few months.

It appears that devices may have accidentally roamed onto a Jordanian network despite the users remaining in Israel the entire time. Verizon didn’t pick up on the error, and instead billed customers for any roaming data used “in” Jordan.

Problems with the billing system aren’t limited to Israel and Jordan, either. One Reddit user claimed a bill of over $2,000 for a visit to Brazil, and another said that TravelPass activated even though he didn’t use his phone at all.

In the case of the customers the NYPost spoke to, Verizon negotiated individual cases to reduce (but not eliminate) the roaming charges. Silberberg told the Post that “[Verizon] said if you get too close to a country’s border, you hit their towers and there’s nothing we can do about it. That’s wrong.”

There’s still no fix in the works, so for the time being, make sure you’re careful about monitoring what network your phone is on if you’re travelling abroad near a country not covered by TravelPass. In the long term, it could be possible for cell carriers to look at a system to require an opt-in for roaming between different countries, so you phone doesn’t just automatically hop between networks without informing you.

Update: A Verizon representative clarified that a fix was issued in March:

A few months ago, a small number of customers were having a problem with TravelPass while traveling close to bordering countries.There was not a widespread problem. 

Phones are designed to attach to the strongest available signal, even if that cell network is in a neighboring country.  TravelPass rates vary depending on the country.

Beginning March 2017, when a customer connects to a cell site not within the country, they have been redirected to a web page providing the rates. The customer has a choice to accept or decline those rates.