Frustrated110
Level 2: Rookie

Small overseas data charges despite mobile data turned off

Is there a solution to this issue? The last couple of times I have been overseas I have incurred small data charges, even though my mobile data and data roaming was turned off. It is not just one country, but includes UK, USA, Chile, and Indonesia.

 

They are only small amounts of a few KB, often as small as 1KB, and only ever occur on the hour , but not every hour – sometimes only once or twice a day.  The charges are not significant, but apparently not incurred by me, as when I was away for the months of Nov and Dec of last year, because I had experienced the problem on a earlier trip, I specifically checked my phone to confirm that I had used 0B of mobile data for both months I was away.

 

Aside from the fact that I shouldn’t be billed anything for this data that was not initiated by me, and which seems to be just the overseas cell polling my phone for some reason despite data being turned off, the  bigger issue is that I cannot take advantage of Telstra’s Day Pass, as even if I don’t use my mobile phone, these small amounts of data will trigger the Day Pass, and over a 2 month period I could be up for an extra $600 on my bill, even if I haven’t used my phone. My understanding of Day Pass is that I should not be charged the $10/day unless I actually make a call or use some data.

 

I cannot find anyone in Telstra support or billing to accept that these data charges were not incurred by me. They just insist that I must have turned on mobile data and data roaming at some stage. Despite the fact that I haven’t accidently turned it on, they cannot explain why I would have only done this on the hour, and what could I possible do with a data transfer as small as 1KB? A brief search of Crowd Support Achives turned up about 8 other people that have the same issue (some with multiple phones). Before my last trip, I even went into a Telstra shop to ask them to check that my phone was set up correctly to avoid any overseas data charges.

 

Any suggestions would be most welcome as to how I get Telstra to take this problem seriously? If I wasn’t locked into a contract, I would simply switch carrier, as the amount of time I have now spent on this issue is becoming ridiculous.

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16 REPLIES 16
ForensicsGuru
Level 21: Augmented

Re: Small overseas data charges despite mobile data turned off

You did not mention type of the mobile you use, but these have been known to happen on Apple iOS and Apple never fully explained why, but acknowledged it... I have personally experienced them when travelling heavily across Europe...

I am fairly positive that these are caused by actual hardware and have nothing to do with Telstra as I have seen similar reports on other networks all around the world and I also believe I have seen such reports in relationship to Android too...

DISCLAIMER: I do not work for Telstra or any other ISP. I never did. I have wealth of practical knowledge in Computer Security and Forensic Computing. I have been in the field since 1985.

Likes (formerly Kudos) and solutions are appreciated!!!
The comments expressed by me reflect my user experience and personal opinion.
Frustrated110
Level 2: Rookie

Re: Small overseas data charges despite mobile data turned off

Thanks ForensicsGuru for your comment. The phone types I have experienced the problem on were a Samsung S7 mid last year, and more recently on a new S9 I purchased for my trip in Nov/Dec last year.

Even if the problem is being caused by the phone, surely Telstra should find a way of preventing these small charges triggering a Day Pass each day. As Telstra supply the phone under contract, do they they not have a responsibility as a supplier, to at least take some interest/responsibility in trying to establish why a product they supply is causing me to have to pay them for data I have not used, even if I turn off Day Pass. My data usage according to my phone was 0 Bytes for both months, despite the numerous entries on my bill for between 1 and 24 Kb over the 2 month period.
ForensicsGuru
Level 21: Augmented

Re: Small overseas data charges despite mobile data turned off

I agree with you that Telstra and other providers could set trigger to something more meaningful... But, although I am not a contractual lawyer, I believe it is your responsibility, not your provider's, to make sure you do not trigger...
It's interesting that Samsung did not report any data - my iOS happily did... :-)
DISCLAIMER: I do not work for Telstra or any other ISP. I never did. I have wealth of practical knowledge in Computer Security and Forensic Computing. I have been in the field since 1985.

Likes (formerly Kudos) and solutions are appreciated!!!
The comments expressed by me reflect my user experience and personal opinion.
Frustrated110
Level 2: Rookie

Re: Small overseas data charges despite mobile data turned off

Thanks again for your input Forensicsguru. My Samsung definitely reported 0B for both months. Interesting that IOS did report usage even though I assume you had data roaming turned off. Correcting the level the trigger for Day pass to cut in is one thing, but it is still not correct they they charge for data that I have not used. I hear what you say that it is my responsibility to make sure that I don't use any data, but it is impossible for me to do that if the problem lies with the phone Telstra has supplied, or if it is an overseas cell used by Telstra polling my phone. I have no control over either. I believe I have met my responsibility my ensuring that I have mobile data and data roaming turned off. Surely the rest is up to the supplier of the phone or the service provider. If certain phones have a problem working properly with Telstra's network, then surely they have a responsibility to point that out so that I can purchase a phone that does not have the problem, and if they want to avoid the responsibility for the problem then I suspect they should not offer to supply those particular phones until the the problem is resolved.
JesseS
Support Team
Support Team

Re: Small overseas data charges despite mobile data turned off

Hey @Frustrated110

 

Just to add to what @ForensicsGuru has mentioned, there may be some causes of tiny amounts of usage on your service. For iOS specifically, you may wish to check if you have iMessage turned on for your device. If you sending iMessages this may have caused these very small amounts of data usage. Try turning this off and see if this affects the usage.

 

In addition, some tiny amounts of data can be sent and received through your device to maintain a connection with the network. So even if you are only connected for a very short amount of time you may see some data recorded. 

 

If you feel that there is some sort of fault with your service/device, then you can always speak with our mobile faults team on 125 111 for assistance.

 

Thanks

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wanderer23
Level 1: Cadet

Re: Small overseas data charges despite mobile data turned off

I have experienced the same problem of low data usage for a long time now. What's frustrating is that I take every conceivable step to not incur data charges but still get these pesky 1Kb roaming data charges that subsequently trigger the automatic Day Pass charges. AND this despite not using the phone for any reason at all. No receiving, no sending, no browsing, no SMS, no receiving texts, no wifi, zip, nada, nothing - and still I get 1Kb data uses. So the problem is that despite me as a user taking all reasonable and practical steps to not use the phone in such a way that would incur a charge, it seems there is something in every phone that prohibits this from actually happening. I'm one of the very few people who actually have a Windows phone and this is still occurring. It has nothing to do with the type of phone and everything to do with making money from clients.

The bottom line appears to be that once you enable Day Pass and assuming your phone is on overseas, you will be liable for the minimum daily charge irrespective of how you use your phone. I've just returned from an overseas trip and yep - there it is, 1Kb data uses every day meaning I pay the Day Pass rate every single day no matter how I use my phone.
ForensicsGuru
Level 21: Augmented

Re: Small overseas data charges despite mobile data turned off

As it has been pointed out by @JesseS these tiny data streams have various reasons that I can understand (anyone knowing the difference between passive and active GPS for example?) and realise that they are necessary.
However, I would support everyone here that Telstra and probably other telcos should not trigger their daily passes by such a low usages. That's not good...
DISCLAIMER: I do not work for Telstra or any other ISP. I never did. I have wealth of practical knowledge in Computer Security and Forensic Computing. I have been in the field since 1985.

Likes (formerly Kudos) and solutions are appreciated!!!
The comments expressed by me reflect my user experience and personal opinion.
Frustrated110
Level 2: Rookie

Re: Small overseas data charges despite mobile data turned off

Hi Jesse,

Thank you for your input. I use Samsung phones however, so do not use imessage.

 

If some tiny amounts of data can be sent and received through my device as you suggest, despite the fact that Data Roaming and Mobile Data are turned off, then surely I should not be charged for that, as I have no control over it.

 

I have spoken with mobile faults on a number of occasions, and even escalated the issue to the complaints team. I have been into my local Telstra shop on 2 separate occasions to have them check my phone. I even purchased a new Samsun S9 before my last trip in case it was something to do with my old S7. On each occasion Telstra faults simply say I must have turned on data at some stage while overseas, despite the fact that I assure them I have not, and that my phone reported 0 bytes of data used while I was away for the months on Nov and Dec last year. Now I know the problem exists, I specifically keep checking it while I am away. My complaint was officially closed with the statement that the “data charges were all valid”. I am not the only one experiencing this. There are many other complaints re this issue on crowd support, including in this thread from “wanderer23”

 

I have turned to Crowd Support because I am now extremely annoyed that Telstra just don’t want to acknowledge that there could be a problem with how overseas cells can poll a phone and clock up small data usages despite the fact that data roaming and mobile data are turned off. How is this problem ever going to be fixed if Telstra blatantly refuse to acknowledge that there is a problem. This is something I have no control over, yet Telstra seem to think it is OK to keep billing me. These small amounts of data can be as small as 1kb, and only ever occur on the hour. It happened on a phone supplied by Telstra as part of a contract, and they still think it is OK to charge me for data despite the fact that I have turned off Data Roaming and Mobile Data

 

What is worse is that now Telstra have introduced Day Pass, they now think it is OK to increase that small data charge to $5 per day, as even if I don’t use the phone at all while I am away, the small amounts of data are enough to trigger the day pass. If that isn’t enough, I am also locked into a contract, so I cannot even just switch to another service provider without incurring cancellation costs, because Telstra just keep telling me that I am creating the problem, despite the fact that I think it is pretty clear I am not.

Greg_Buch
Support Team
Support Team

Re: Small overseas data charges despite mobile data turned off

I appreciate the time taken to keep us updated and I trust this can be sorted out for you soon. If you haven't been able to get the assistance you need on your recent calls this can be followed up by a dedicated case manager in our Complaints team through the secure link at  https://tel.st/ng9xw. If a suitable solution can't be provided the case manager can advise of the options for further escalation and help. Greg

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Frustrated110
Level 2: Rookie

Re: Small overseas data charges despite mobile data turned off

Hi wanderer23,
Many thanks your input. I see there are a number of others on Crowd Support also experiencing the problem, so my frustration with Telstra is growing. I agree that it seems to be nothing to do with what type of phone you have.

The small data charges for data we have not used (or authorised by virtue of the fact that we have data roaming and mobile data turned off) are bad enough, but now by virtue of Day Pass, they are increasing that to $5 per day. I didn’t even request Day Pass. I had to renew my contract, and discovered that Day Pass was automatically included and turned on for all new contracts. It was up to me to opt out!

I have now requested Day Pass be turned off to avoid the additional costs, but it is not good enough that Telstra just keep telling us it is our problem, and of course I still get billed for those pesky small amounts of data, which is small change, but that doesn’t make it OK!
Frustrated110
Level 2: Rookie

Re: Small overseas data charges despite mobile data turned off

Hi Greg,
I did try that at the recommendation of the Telstra Small Business Team, but as I said in my reply to JesseS, unfortunately the dedicated case manager they assigned just insisted that I must have used data while I was away and how could I prove that I did not have data turned on at some stage. This was despite me explaining that the data usage was in packets as small as 1 kb and only ever on the hour, and that I specifically checked my phone to confirm that according to my phone I used 0 bytes for the month of Nov and Dec while I was away. He then simply closed the case, stating in his letter that:

"I've confirmed that:
• Charges are all valid.
• Explained reason why its valid charge
• Data charges has been used
• Calls received charges are valid charge as if someone contacted your number whilst overseas even if you forward all your calls to voice mail you will still be charged accordingly"

The last point is a separate issue, but I also think is incorrect. I was billed overseas charges for receiving a call while overseas despite the fact that I had an unconditional forward in place to my voicemail. Day Pass was turned off, overseas roaming was on, data roaming was off and mobile data was off with an unconditional forward to voicemail. Interestingly I’ve never had this happen before, but again, this case manager said he checked with his supervisor, and that this is what happens. I have yet to look into that one further.

I can PM the case number if interested.

Also Interestingly he offered no options for further escalation, as you suggest they should have, despite the fact that we could reach no agreement. He just told me in his letter how to accept the “solution” offered, which I obviously didn’t take up. How should I escalate it further within Telstra?
thedylan
Telstra (Retired)
Telstra (Retired)

Re: Small overseas data charges despite mobile data turned off

Hi @Frustrated110,

 

When did you receive that letter? Did you let the consultant know that you weren't happy with that resolution?

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Frustrated110
Level 2: Rookie

Re: Small overseas data charges despite mobile data turned off

Hi thedylan,
I received the letter on 10 Jan 2019. I made it very clear in my conversation that I was not happy with the "resolution", as he was simply saying that it was all my doing that I incurred the charges, and they were valid. His letter simply confirmed that, so didn't seem to any point in following that line further. Following that I did some research on crowd support to find a number of others experiencing the same problem, and then started this thread of my own. Happy to escalate it further with whoever you suggest in Telstra, but I was wasting my time with the gentleman that was allocated to me as a "dedicated case manager", as he was in no way going to accept that this could be a Telstra problem. I am at least encouraged by several of you that have responded to this thread, and open to suggestions as to how we get someone to look into this problem properly.
thedylan
Telstra (Retired)
Telstra (Retired)

Re: Small overseas data charges despite mobile data turned off

If you can private message me the reference number for your case I may be able to follow up with your case manager about this, and we can go from there @Frustrated110.

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wanderer23
Level 1: Cadet

Re: Small overseas data charges despite mobile data turned off

Hi Frustrated110,
I hear your frustration. I'm considering how best to approach this, as like you, I feel these little data blocks are a right pain in the butt. I have no issue in paying for a service that I use and in this instance it appears that my phone used data whilst outside of Australia. You will almost certainly find that you'll hit a block wall in trying to challenge the charges so my advice would be not to pursue that direction. What I will do is ask Telstra to prove exactly what those 1KB data blocks represent in terms of data usage, because I defy anyone to turn mobile data on and use exactly 1KB. It's simply impossible. The time stamps attached to each data block will no doubt be rounded to the nearest hour so the exact time of usage will be a mystery.

This then points to the underlying issue that these small data streams are beyond the control of the client and can in no way be circumvented by the client. For sure, I agree to the terms and conditions of the Day Pass, but if it's impossible for me to avoid data usage then this would seem a very egregious contract that penalises the client immediately.

So my advice is ask for evidence of what the 1KB data block is/was. Make it clear you never used mobile data and this must be a network issue beyond your control. Get an answer. Inform them that you are not happy with the answer. Lodge a complaint with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. You can't lodge a complaint without first giving Telstra an opportunity to "address" your concern.

For me the issue is not that we are being unfairly charged for a service. Our phones used data whilst outside of Australia and we have agreed to incur costs as such. What is unreasonable is that there is no way for a client to avoid these charges should they so wish to do so. Telstra need to raise data usage to a minimum threshold before it triggers the Day Pass conditions. It would be very easy to set this at 5KB and allow any data under this limit to be free of charge.

There is one last point that no one talks about openly but known by many "experts" and could be related to this. Some phones manufactured in a certain country "leak" data on purpose. Where this data goes to and for what purpose is an unknown but it does happen. But of course this is just pure speculation (wink wink).
Frustrated110
Level 2: Rookie

Re: Small overseas data charges despite mobile data turned off

Hi wanderer23,
Thanks again your advice. Interestingly my Samsung S9 reported that I used 0 bytes of data while I was away for the months on Nov and Dec, so I don’t actually think my phone did use any data. My suspicion is that the overseas cell polls the phone before it realises that data roaming and mobile data is turned off, and in doing so clocks up that otherwise useless 1kb packet on the network bill.

I’m also not sure that it rounds the time up to the nearest hour. I think it only occurs on the hour exactly, which is why I think it is also some form of routine polling that is clocking up these silly little 1 kb packets only ever on the hour. All my other genuine data sessions when I am back in Australia have a date and time stamp in hours and minutes when they actually occur, and not rounded up to the hour. I also never see 1kb packets billed on the hour when I am in Australia, which makes me think the problem is somehow associated with roaming only.

I agree with everything else you say, including the block wall that I have already experienced. It is clearly not right that Telstra are charging us for something we have no control over, and Day Pass just rubs salt into the wound, as with Day Pass turned on those otherwise small data charges suddenly turn into a $10/day charge.

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