Couple Surprised by Bell Charge While on Roaming Plan [Update]

Bell customers Tod Murray and Elizabeth Torres raised concerns over the surprising charges they faced during a road trip to Texas, despite subscribing to a daily roaming plan.

“I spoke to Bell, and said this happened once before, so I want to know exactly what to do and how to do it,” said Murray, speaking with Global News.

Bell had assured them that the roaming plan, priced at $13/day, would suffice. Roam Better allows wireless customers to use their existing plan while roaming in the U.S. or internationally.

“They said if we weren’t using it, to put our phone on airplane mode,” Murray said. Following this advice, the couple made fewer than ten calls and texts, relying mainly on Wi-Fi.

Their careful planning didn’t pay off when they saw their bill, as instead, a huge charge appeared. Torres said, “Honey, this can’t be right… It’s $756!” Of this huge total, $450 was for long-distance charges. When Murray questioned Bell about these charges, the company fired back, “Our computers are never wrong.”

Bell’s investigation revealed an activation error during the early days of the couple’s trip. The company stated that the couple would see a credit of about $80 for this mistake. Additionally, Bell referred to a previous refund for the couple in 2022 as a “goodwill gesture,” and stated it would go over the plan with the couple once more.

Despite these attempts at resolution, the experience has left a bitter taste in Murray’s mouth. “I want to pay for what we owe,” Murray said adamantly, “Not for what they say we owe.”

Rosa Addario from consumer advocacy group OpenMedia criticized telecom companies, saying, “They know that we’re backed into a corner when we’re travelling… It’s the easiest option.” She warned of potential traps due to the lack of transparency, suggesting that Canadians look to other countries for deals once they arrive.

The ordeal seems to have spurred Murray to consider other service providers. He told Global News, “I will likely hang up on Bell… I don’t like the service I was afforded.”

Earlier this year, Bell increased the price of its daily Roam Better plans, from $12 to $13 per day for U.S. roaming and international options as well. The move followed a similar price increase made by Telus for its own roaming plans.

Update July 1, 2023: A Bell spokesperson shared with iPhone in Canada the details originally given to Global News, which you can find below:

  • The total bill of $756 includes an unpaid balance of $146.82 and a monthly charge of $126.90.
  • The Roam Better charges for two lines were:
    • Line 1: $13/day for 13 days, totalling $169.
    • Line 2: $13/day for 20 days, totalling $260. This line also had additional US roaming minutes costing $19.90 and seven outgoing texts from Canada to the US costing $2.80.
  • Previous charges on the May invoice included long-distance calls from Canada to the USA amounting to $37.95, comprised of:
    • 33 minutes of calls at 75 cents/minute, totalling $24.75 plus tax.
    • 33 text messages at 40 cents/message, totalling $13.20 plus tax.
  • Bell admitted an error in the timely activation of the Roam Better option on the couple’s account.
  • As a result of the error, Bell applied a credit of approximately $80 to the couple’s account.
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