Another Tale of Canadian Mobile Phone Carrier Gouging

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The newswire is abuzz with the latest gouging story, at the hands of Canadian mobile phone carrier Rogers.

Burnaby, BC resident Matt Buie recently returned from Mexico and discovered that his son’s active video-viewing while away, generated 700MB of data roaming with a resulting bill of $22,000.  Even though Buie was aware of the high cost of roaming, his son managed to switch his iPhone out of Airplane Mode, and in to data-roaming hell.  Rogers did eventually reduce this bill substantially, but only after significant effort on Buie’s part, and ultimately after he went to the media to make his case.

Many of us have been in Buie’s situation.  I initially began seeking out roaming options, and blogging about it, after being faced with a $700 bill after failing to properly calculate the math on a miniscule amount of usage in Mexico, and Fido’s subsequent lack of respect for my 11 years of customer loyalty in reducing this.

For some of us, we can’t simply shut off our connection to the Internet while traveling.  Many of us need to at least check in with the office from time-to-time, and throwing up a wall may have unintended consequences.  We have also become accustomed to constantly being connected and sharing our experiences with our friends and family in real-time.

The best way to travel is to remove your home SIM card from your phone altogether, and only roam on a domestic SIM issued in the country you’re visiting.  In the case of Mexico, you can either prepare this in advance through one of the services I have blogged about – Travelers Telecom or MexicoSIMCard.com, or set one up upon arrival in Mexico.  Using a domestic SIM, Buie’s usage would have cost less than $40.

And if you’d like to avoid the cost and inflexibility of Canadian carriers’ voice plans and contracts while at home, ditch your voice plan altogether by setting up a cheap data-only account and making voice calls through an app.  You can reduce your mobile phone bill to as little as $5 per month.

  • Brian Horowitz

    I will be traveling to a few countries in a short amount of time and i do not want to have to buy a domestic sim per country as some I am only stopping for a day or two. Is there an option I can take to use the same Sim card but at a good price that works in various countries?

    • Not really. There are 3rd parties that offer “global SIMs” valid in a variety of countries, but in my experience their rates aren’t competitive, and are far higher than picking up a domestic SIM in each individual country.