Would you pay $28,000 to watch a football game on your next cruise? That is what AT&TWireless initially charged a man who decided to kill time while docked on his cruise ship in Miami and watch his beloved Chicago Bears play the Detroit Lions in their regular Sunday NFL game. The man has a device on his home DVR called a Slingbox that allows him to access his DVR programing via his internet wireless card. Apparently, his wireless card in his laptop was picking up a signal from a neighboring cruise ship or some other international wireless system in error while in port in Miami. His cell phone was working without roaming indicators, so he had no reason to suspect anything else from his laptop card. AT&T charged the man, Wayne Burdick, the international rate of 2 cents per K-bit, rather than his unlimited wireless rate.
When he first disputed the charge, he was under the impression that the charge must have been the result of a mistake or fraud related to the international travel on the cruise. Imagine his surprise when he discovered that he had racked up that charge while sitting on the ship in docked in Miami. AT&T wireless did offer to retroactively put him into one of their international wireless plans, which would have reduced the charge to $6000, but the man continued to push for the charges to be dropped based on the fact that he was indeed in Miami during the internet usage time. When he felt he had exhausted all of his options with AT&T, he wrote a letter to the “Fixer” at the Chicago Sun Times. Only after the intervention of the “Fixer”, Stephanie Zimmerman, did AT&T acknowledge the mistake and agree to drop the international charges. It helped Mr. Burdick plead his case in that he had proof that he was in Miami at the time the charges racked up.
This is good time to remind our readers to always check out your wireless plan and your wireless options when traveling out of the United States. Be sure to check your phone and make sure you’re not roaming, or that your know exactly what your roaming charges will be when you are in a US port, at sea or international port. Double check your wireless rates, and be sure to use your wireless access sparingly when traveling abroad.