07-06-2012 12:53:28 PM
I can not figure how to reply to continue a 2008 thread entitled "U.S. Virgin Islands--International Roaming or Not?" The problems described in that old thread continues, so I've posted this new note to let people know that.
I wanted to describe a recent early 2012 experience to warn others that AT&T calls from the US Virgin Islands may still result in erroneous charges. I suspect that this is a problem near any national borders (e.g. Southwest US/Mexico, northern US/Canada, Alaska/Canada), not only with AT&T.
My spouse spent an entire vacation week on St John (flying in from US mainland via Puerto Rico, St Thomas, boat to St John), and called me during that week (mobile-to-mobile) on our AT&T national plan. When I saw our monthly bill a few weeks later, I saw 70 min. of roaming charge that phone, ca. $160 not including ca. $28 taxes. Was about to pay the entire bill until I decided to investigate a bit further. Found the roaming charges labeled BRITISH Virgin Islands calls, which could not be right since this was an organized group hiking/snorkeling St John-only trip based out of a campground on that island.
Spend a good part of an hour with 3 regular/international customer service people, being told several times the obvious, if one is outside the US one will incur expensive roaming charges (doh!), and the records show our calls were from the British Virgin Islands. Offered to send them some indication (e.g. airline invoice, trip itinerary) to show that the spouse's vacation was to St John only, but just as obvious, can't actually PROVE she not traveled to a British island and made calls outside of the US. Asked them if their cell towers in that area can distinguish between calls made on St John and those made, say, on a nearby (within sight of St John?) British Virgin Islands island, but no answers from the last customer rep dealing with me. He did allow that sometime Detroit calls are picked up by cell towers across the lake in Windsor, Canada, so that indicates these types of system errors happen.
I also asked what I could do when I'm near a national border to avoid using non-US connections. Customer rep suggested checking that phone window indicates an AT&T connection, but he also acknowledged that this is not reliable since one can pick up an alternate carrier in non-AT&T coverage areas in the US (e.g. my experience in parts of Montana), but with these calls there are no roaming call charges on a national plan, just use of plan minutes.
In the end I got "a one time adjustment" credit for all the "British Virgin Islands" charges because I was such a "long time customer" (continuous since 2004). Typical customer service-speak, usually because the customer had some valid complaints, but no admittance of error or system problem by a company. The take-away lessons here are to check your bills for un-usual charges, know the basis for your complaint, and be firm in asking for redress if that's warranted..
07-23-2012 11:40:27 AM