Verizon Mobile International Data Rates Rant

I’ve been a customer of Verizon cellular since before it was Verizon.  I have repeatedly found their coverage map and service to be superior to other carriers that my friends and colleagues use.  I travel out of the country from time to time and their “World Phone” options for the smart phones that I like to use have been a big plus.

For example, my wife and I traveled to Israel last fall.  By changing my $30 per month data plan to the $65 per month International Data plan – I was able to have full use of my Android phone.  I could get all my email which included voicemails forwarded by my 3CX office phone system as well as all of the web browsing and mobile navigation I wanted.  By the way, this increase in my charge for the data plan could be prorated for just the portion of the month that I was away.

Move forward a year and we are now planning some new out of the country travel.  As usual, I called the Verizon International Customer Service phone number to go over my options and make preparations.  Now I know that not everyone on the help desk has had umpteen years of experience doing this job.  Some must be newer and that is okay. When the agent I spoke to seemed to me to be less experienced I politely asked if I could speak to a manager because I wanted to talk to someone that had more experience.  She put me on hold to fetch a manager.  When she came back she told me that she had already answered my questions and for that reason the manager would not speak to me.  I really feel like putting an exclamation mark after that last sentence because that is  the way I remembered it.  I told her that I had no personal complaint against her, it was just that I wished to speak to someone with more experience and that I was starting to get unhappy with the way I was being treated.  She put me on hold for a while again and came back and said – you should love this – “there is no manager available now”.  I guess all the worker bees have been abandoned and left unsupervised – coincidentally.

So, this was actually a digression.  This rant is not about this crappy customer service that I received – which I have already reported to Verizon – it is about what has happened in the last year to International Data Roaming charges.

There is no more $65 per month International Data Roaming plan at Verizon.  The explanation is that Verizon has to pay local carriers for their customers to use the foreign service while traveling.  Well, duh, hasn’t this always been the case?  But wait – it gets better.  I asked about what the cost would be now.  The two countries that we have travel planned to are in their Pay as you Go plan.  What that means is for email and web browsing there is just a charge of 2 cents per KB.  2 cents doesn’t sound like much does it?  Here comes the math.  I made a call and asked a Verizon agent what my data usage has been by month for the last 3 months.  She told me that this information was not available and that if I needed it I would have to subpoena it.  Okay, hang up the phone and push redial.  My next person told me the numbers I was looking for and also where I could find this information online.  I like when they ask me if I just want the average for the last 3 months.  No, I don’t want the average, I want the individual numbers because on the next month my usage will not be the average it will be like some previous month – maybe even the worst month.   I use a smartphone (Android) and I consider myself a moderate data user, not a heavy data user.  I read email and browse the web to look things up and read some news.  I do not do any streaming of music or video. Anyway, in 2 of the last 3 months I used 1 gb of data.  One is a small number, right?  Here’s what it converts to if I would be paying at the 2 cents per kb rate.  It would just be $20,971 and change!  Now my trip won’t be for a full month so if it were only for 1 week, which it won’t be, my cost would only be $4,893.

I did some checking and it looks like Sprint, TMobile, and ATT all have these type of charges now for International Data Roaming.

I would say that where I thought we were moving to a global economy – the US wireless carriers are not part of it.

I think I will be getting a short term phone in my destination country if I want to have data access.  Much more reasonable.