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Went over my international data / voice plan, what should I do? – Cell phone minutes / data overage – how to not pay for it.

Avoid cell phone overage fee - donGoing on a trip is stressful enough.  Bags, check.  Enough socks, check.  Laptop or iPad, check.  Cell phone plan overseas, not sure?  If you are weighing between buying a local SIM card where you’re headed versus paying more for your current cell phone plan, stop wasting time.  As your tech support guru virtual assistant, I have put in enough man-hours on the topic to drive my family and friends crazy.

First of all, you should only buy a local, international, SIM card for your iPhone, Android or other smartphone only if you’re staying more long-term for at least 1 month or more.  Otherwise, it is more expensive to buy the card, the plan, and unlocking fee for the local carrier.  It pays to just increase your AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-mobile, or other regular cell phone plan.  Just call up or download your carrier’s app to add an international plan for data (email and Internet), voice (phone calls), and text messages.  If you’re not sure how much data to add, I’d recommend to buy the base plan if you’re an occasional email user, and bump up according to your frequency of being glued to your phone.

What do you do if you go over your cell phone plan, whether it is in data, voice, or text messages?  It could be quite exorbitant.  I just consulted with a customer who went $1,200 over for what was supposed to be a relaxing vacation in Cancun.  This person got slammed with international roaming charges.  Best of all, he checked his phone for emails maybe a handful of times a day at a few minutes a clip.  His iPhone was racking up charges in his pocket just by being on!  That’s the first tip.  Turn your phone off if you’re not using it.  Yes, you can switch off cellular or international roaming, but you won’t have any access for your email or phone by doing so.  Just simply turn it off if not in use.

Back to the main question of how can you bypass paying for a serious cell phone overage fee.  The plan I laid out for our $1,200 in-the-red customer was to call up his carrier, Verizon in his case, and inform them of the following key points which is sure to trigger your customer service rep to be on your side:

  1. Only phone in – Do not, I repeat, do not try your song-and-dance routine I’m about to present to you in your save cell phone moneyphone carrier’s store.  The in-store cell phone company has the primary goal of selling phones, not plans.  They will not work with you.  Only phone in for a successful phone overage removal.  Phone reps have the main goal of keeping customers and increasing phone plans.
  2. Astonishment – Show your genuine surprise for the overage fee.  This is probably no acting job.  So, put forth your best overacting of Meryl Streep or Michael Douglas here.
  3. Lay the groundwork – Mention that you relied on the expertise of your carrier’s website/forum, phone rep, in-store rep, or another source that helped you sign up for the international plan.  If it weren’t for this expertise you relied upon, you would have never gone with this plan and be in the negative here.
  4. Partner up – If points 1 and 2 fail, strike a deal.  This always works.  You know what Mr. Verizon or AT&T customer representative, it looks like my phone usage will only increase in the future.  Why don’t you increase my regular domestic plan up to the next level and it would be appreciated if you could retroactively absorb the overage fees.  It may sound like a lot of garble, but keep in mind that the phone rep’s main goal is to make a sale.  They get the sale and you get your overage fee waived.  Everyone is happy, happy.
  5. Rebel – If all 4 points fail, threaten playing for the other team, such as Verizon or AT&T.  They can’t stand losing a customer more than waiving fees.  That the ultimate slap in the face.  Let them know you’ve paid your bill, in good standing, for years and this is how they treat you.  Can’t you just make one exception after being such a loyal, on-time customer?  If you have a hefty overage bill, this traitor-like ploy should at least cut your expense here.

These five points should help you remove the overage cell phone bill you received.  It will actually work more than once, but it can’t be that close together that you pull this trick from your sleeve.  There are tech service and technology issue log records, but they are usually not viewed when far in the past.  Good luck with your call and feel free to pay for my next coffee as gratuity!

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