Border-Region Canadian Customers May Be Wrongly Charged Roaming Fees, Warns Consumer Group

by Istvan Fekete on October 8, 2014

A consumer advocacy group has warned Canadians living near the border about the risk of accidental roaming charges due to interference from US carrier signals. As Bruce Cran, president of the Consumer’s Association of Canada pointed out, this is a national problem affecting every cellphone provider in the country.

“You’ve got to be very vigilant with your bill,” said Cran, who added that he has received complaints from people who have been dealing with the problem for almost a decade. “We get complaints from the Pacific to the Atlantic on this issue.”

As an example, Cran brought up the case of a Saskatchewan woman whose Internet hot-spot device has incurred international roaming charges just because she lives in an area close to the US border.

She told radio station CJME that she received an automated message from her carrier, SaskTel, warning her that she had surpassed the $100 data-roaming limit.

But this isn’t limited to regional carriers: the incumbents’ subscribers are affected as well.

SaskTel spokeswoman Darcee MacFarlane says this is a persistent issue for rural communities living near the US border, and that the carrier cannot do much to protect its subscribers. “There’s actually, to be perfectly frank, very little that we can do,” she said.

The problem is apparently rooted in the nature of wireless technology, as cellular towers typically have a radius of up to 30 kilometres, so US towers near the border can cause interference, MacFarlane explained.

But there is one thing subscribers can do to avoid roaming charges: they have the option to manually select the network they would like to use. So, instead of letting the smartphone or cell phone automatically select the wireless carrier’s network, they can manually choose the carrier they have their contract with. This is a possible fix for the issue.

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Written by: Istvan Fekete. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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