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$4,800 Bill for Turned-Off iPhones


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Last month I told you about the fellow who, misunderstanding AT&T's international data plan and the amount of bandwidth the iPhone actually uses, ended up with a $3,000 bill after a couple of weeks overseas. Many felt unsympathetic, saying he should have known what the charges would be since AT&T was up front about the cost and he was responsible for how much data has was using.

Well now the story gets a little stranger: A family with three iPhones went on a Mediterranean cruise with their gadgets, but didn't even turn on the iPhones during the trip. When they got back, a $4,800 bill for international roaming was waiting for them. How? Because the iPhone, according to this Newsday story, checks for service updates and email whether it's turned on or off.

Sure enough, the fine print on AT&T's web site agrees: "Substantial charges may be incurred if phone is taken out of the U.S. even if no services are intentionally used."

But still, nearly $5,000 in charges for a phone that isn't turned on feels, well, a bit excessive. And stories like this are piling up to the point where class-action lawsuits are in the works, alleging that Apple (and AT&T, I assume) did not do a good enough job at informing consumers how much they'd have to pay if they stepped foot out of the country.

Memo to AT&T: Isn't it time to offer some real, unlimited international data plans for the iPhone? You know, like the ones you offer for all the other phones you sell?

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Unless the overseas charge is running at $1 per KB how the hell can you rack up that sized bill? And why in Apple world does "off" mean "not really mate"?

I guess it's like the new Intel chips that even when the thing is switched off, as long as it has power, its still on and can function in the background. I think the only way to turn it off is to take out the battery when out of the country, or hack the software/firmware to not call home/check email while on the road.

Better yet, don't get an iPhone! They don't seem to be so great to begin with.

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