Roaming ‘bill shock’ alerts welcome, but also consider alternatives

Consumers can look forward to improved ‘bill shock’ protections from Telstra when overseas with international roaming turned on. But consumers should still be careful when using their home telco overseas. Each 20 megabyte block of data will still cost around $300.

A new SMS service notifies from Telstra will notify customers by text message about their data usage.

Tim Webber, Director, Telstra Mobile said the “new SMS alerts would be sent for every 20 megabytes (MB) of data used overseas [except for Hong Kong].”

“A growing number of our customers are taking their mobile devices overseas to access their emails, get live maps and stay connected to their favourite social networks while travelling,” Mr Webber said.

“To help customers manage their data costs, we will now automatically send our customers data usage alerts via SMS every time they roam overseas.”

Teresa Corbin, CEO, Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) commented that

“While these alerts are an improvement on the current system, Telstra customers could still experience unexpected, high roaming bills.For example, Telstra charges $0.015/kB for roaming in the US, so you won’t get an alert until you’ve downloaded at least $300 worth of data.”

“We always welcome innovations in helping consumers manage their bills but this action does little to reduce the exorbitant price of global roaming.”

Ms Corbin pointed out that consumers have alternatives to using data roaming overseas.

“We would encourage consumers to use a local SIM or simply turn off data roaming and connect to a local Wi-Fi hotspot. You can read more tips on travelling overseas with a mobile phone at: here on ACCAN’s web site.”

In addition to these new SMS alerts, Telstra has also released ‘International Casual Traveller Data Packs’, which allow consumers to buy an amount of data that lasts for 30 days, costing $29 for 20MB or up to $1050 for 1GB data.

While the new alerts significantly improve Telstra’s billing system, going to the effort to purchase an international sim will still be a better option for many consumers.