Early this year I was in the US on a visit and decided I wasn’t going to roam my phone. However, I forgot or more like didn’t realize I had to switch off the “data roaming” as well. I thought the same BIS would suffice and boy was I wrong. I ended up running over 60k on Data Roaming alone. How was that possible?
Well, for a contract line, if you are data roaming in the US it cost about N1,050 per mega bite. So imaging if you receive emails on your phones with attachments of about 1mb then you pay N1k for each of the emails your receive. Roaming in the UK is even higher at N2,340 per mega bite. So whenever you’re traveling and intend to browse it’s better you use the local network in your destination. In the UK for example, with less than ?20 (N5k) you are good enough to browse for about a month with no obnoxious cap on your data.
Call roaming was a slightly different but similarly bitter experience for me. Whether you receive or not the experience is painful. Call back to Nigeria from Uk is about N564 per minute while from the US it is about N826 per minute. Call back to Nigeria from a prepaid phone that is roaming is about N900 if the call is emanating from the US and N600 from Europe respectively. Receiving is N200 and N60 for calls received in the US and UK respectively for calls from a prepaid line. From a post paid line it is about N210 and N40 for the US and UK respectively. All of these are off course per minute calls and MTN which is the network I use.
It was no surprise then that on my return to Nigeria after roaming with my phone for about a week my line was suspended with an outstanding of about N46k. That is after having the office deposit over N20k on my behalf while I was abroad. Essentially I had incurred about N66k. Strangely I mostly received calls and only made a call for about a minute. Most of the bills I believe may have been data charges. On my return I made the “stupid” mistake of calling the customer care asking for what must have caused the huge bill. MTN kindly responded that ” they are not able to view itemized calls until the end of the billing cycle which was weeks away. Ironically, they could tell that I was owing N46k and had paid N20k but couldn’t tell me the make up of my bill. Essentially giving you no chance to contest the bill while your line is suspended. The only option of not paying is the inability to make a call or receive a common email on your phone.
Off course at the end of the day the N46k turned out to be an unwarranted debt that I had to pay. To make matters worse, in addition to paying it I also had to pay an extra amount to be able to make calls. Back to my friend, his threat was half hearted as he has had to pay the N90k for now. He couldn’t imagine dumping the line and starting over again to distribute a new number to his business contacts and people who are dear to him.
If you are thinking of roaming your phone whenever you travel, think hard for you may as well be taking an unplanned trip into debt. This time it’s a debt you must pay immediately without the option of a bail out or even an amortized payment.
See link to MTN roaming page http://mtnonline.com/products-services/international-roaming/roaming-rates