In a startling incident, a 14-year-old teen was billed a staggering $8,944 in roaming charges for texting his family during a layover in Turkey. The unexpected charges left the family in shock, prompting them to seek clarification from the telco company M1, according to Shin Min Daily News.
The incident unfolded when the teen and his mother, traveling from Singapore to Hungary, had a brief two-hour layover in Turkey on Nov 9, 2023. Wanting to update his family on their safe arrival, the teen activated international data roaming on his phone to send a text.
One week later, the family received a text message from their telco, M1, revealing the jaw-dropping roaming charges accrued during the short layover. Dumbfounded by the $8,944 bill, the mother, surnamed Lin, immediately contacted M1 for an explanation.
Despite reaching out to customer service and visiting M1’s store in Jurong East, Lin expressed frustration as her queries remained unresolved. The telco reportedly advised her to wait for the phone bill, which, upon receipt on Nov 22, indicated a total charge exceeding $9,000, including the teen’s $84 monthly mobile plan.
Fearing the full charge without sufficient explanation, Lin took the step of canceling recurring bill payments. In the absence of clear information on their data usage in Turkey, she opted to dispute the charges.
After continued communication, an agreement was reached on Jan 26, with Lin agreeing to pay $500 as a resolution. Despite uncertainty about the exact mobile data usage, Lin deemed the $500 charge acceptable.
In response to queries, an M1 spokesperson clarified that their investigation revealed the international data roaming function was switched on before traveling to Turkey. The teen’s device connected to the Turkish telco Vodafone Telsim, resulting in the exorbitant roaming charges.
M1, acknowledging the incident, offered a one-time waiver for a significant portion of the charges as a goodwill gesture. The spokesperson emphasized the availability of roaming plans, such as Daily Passports, urging customers to sign up for such packages to avoid bill shocks.
The shocking incident serves as a reminder of the potential pitfalls of international roaming and the importance of understanding and securing suitable roaming plans to prevent unexpected charges.