One Bright Spot In The Morass Of International Roaming Charges

tmo.jpgLike many other mobile bloggers, I’ve complained before about excessive international roaming fees. The issue isn’t that I’ve been hit with bill shock because I didn’t know what the prices were; it’s quite the opposite. I know what the charges are, and it’s appalling. While the operator I use, T-Mobile USA, still levies hefty roaming fees, especially for data, I’ve found one way around that seems tacitly approved by the company. I want to document it here for others, but also to give T-Mobile some kudos.

When I complained a year ago, Scott Rafer told me to call and get the $20 per month international roaming plan, a plan of which I wasn’t aware. It appears it’s only available to users on BlackBerry data plans (please leave a note if your experience says otherwise) — so I dropped my $20 domestic flat-rate data, in favor of the $20 BlackBerry add-on plan, which of course includes unlimited data, as well as the ability to use T-Mobile’s BlackBerry services with compatible devices. (To get this plan, you can either call customer service, or you can log into the My T-Mobile site and hit “Not Your Phone?” in the upper right, then choose one of the BlackBerry devices. When you click on “Plan & Services”, you should then be able to swap out your data plan for the BlackBerry one.)

That’s half the magic. The other half is this $20 per month international roaming tariff. One great thing is that T-Mobile will let you add it and remove it from your account whenever you like, and prorate the charges. That is, if you only need it for a week, you can call and add it, then remove it a week later, and you’ll only be charged a fraction of the $20. I’m headed out of the country next week, so I called to do add it, and was a bit surprised when the customer service rep asked me, unprompted, if I’d like to have it removed on a specific date when I return. So while I felt like I was making some slightly shady workaround to avoid paying T-Mobile a bunch of roaming fees, it certainly appears like they’re happy to help.

That shocked me a bit — but I have to say it’s been par for the course with my experience with T-Mobile. I’ve used other US operators and been generally unhappy with their customer service, but I’m yet to have any problems with T-Mobile. Additionally, I find their CSRs to be friendly, helpful, and most of all, knowledgeable. When unhelpful service and policies tend to be the rule rather than the exception for mobile operators, I just wanted to relate my positive experiences with T-Mobile. I still find their normal international roaming rates pretty annoying, but it is nice to know they’re willing to look out for me a little bit.

—–>Follow us on Twitter too: @russellbuckley and @caaarlo