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Telus Charged $5,000 for roaming at sea WITHOUT NOTIFICATION

Helpful Neighbour
So, my fiance when she was on a cruise called me a few times and much to her surprise when the bill came it was approx $4700 . She was shocked and when contacted Telus she was told there was nothing they could do. She did receive a msg saying welcome to Mexico and Roam At Home but did not receive a message saying welcome to Roam at Sea. Apparently the charge is $5 minute for calls and even more for data.

The text msg recieved was ambiguous and not clear and am prepared to post to Twitter (of which I have 30k real followers) Instagram and Facebook unless Telus steps up and provides a satisfactory resolution to this outrageous bill.

On the fence waiting patiently for now.


As per wireless code of conduct it should be $100 max for data roaming not sure about Voice charges however.

2. Cap on data roaming charges

  1. A service provider must suspend national and international data roaming charges once they reach $100 within a single monthly billing cycle, unless the account holder or authorized user expressly consents to pay additional charges.
  2. A service provider must provide this cap at no charge.
  3. In all instances, this cap applies on a per-account basis, regardless of the number of devices associated with the account.
  4. Any amount that the customer pays in data roaming fees, whether via a roaming add-on (before use) or via overage fees (after use), counts toward this cap.

Community Power User
Community Power User

Before you jump too far, have a look at these documents:


From Telus service terms:

Can I stay connected when I travel outside of Canada?

9. Roaming services are available on compatible network technology and are provided when you are outside of Canada in places where TELUS has roaming agreements with other telecommunications companies, within their coverage areas. There may also be times when you are charged for roaming while still within TELUS coverage areas. This will happen if your device’s radio signal is picked up by a cell tower located in the coverage area of another wireless service provider.

When you are roaming, you will be connected using the services of another wireless service provider. As a result, you will be responsible for all applicable charges, and are subject to the terms and conditions of the service as imposed by that other provider (these may include limitations of liability and possibly the provision of unwanted services and content). Please keep in mind that special numbers for emergency services and operator assistance may vary by country so dialling the numbers that you use in Canada may not work. It is your responsibility to look up and use country-specific numbers when roaming outside of Canada.


Telus Cruise ship rates are $7.00 per minute, and $0.60 per outgoing SMS. A bill of $4700 is about 10 hours of conversation.


About Cellular at Sea, which is not a carrier, nor a roaming partner in the usual sense, and, to my knowledge, not subject to carrier restrictions. For instance, wireless carriers may have no ability to prevent your connection to the ships wireless/ cellular network and out to the greater world, nor may they get timely reporting of your use the ship's wireless connectivity to effect a limiting of your continued use.


You may be able to negotiate a reduction in costs if you approach Telus calmly. I suggest carefully reviewing your bill in preparation, as it appears a considerable number of hours were spent in conversation. Data is unavailable through your cellular plan while on board - it is dealt with directly through the cruise line at similarly exorbitant prices. So, as @canucks4life indicates the data caps and notifications at $100 would not apply to voice calls.


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Unfortunately your welcome to roaming text msg is ambiguous and does not specify different terms for roaming on land or roaming at sea. Simply, an automated message is sent not disclosing true roaming charges or indifference. Small claims court will hear the matter since customer service would not hold responsibility.

Community Power User
Community Power User

One would think there would be a certain degree of consumer responsibility to have read the terms of service, and if in doubt for roaming, either called Telus to inquire, or at the least Google as the Telus page about cruises was really easy to find. Most of the cruise lines websites advise travelers to check with their cellular provider to confirm the rates.


The message about roaming in Mexico doesn't apply to cruise ships as the cruise ships usually don't turn on the satellite connection until they are in international waters / more than 12 nautical miles off shore. (Example: Carnival Cruises)

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Telus should be sending a msg that states roaming rates at sea not a generic message when arriving in a foreign country.

Will be taking this public.

Community Power User
Community Power User

Again, roaming at sea is not a thing. The boat is in international waters before activating their cell service, using a private company's satellite connection, so the carriers have no easy way to locate where you are. Since the satellite cellular provider doesn't have roaming agreements with cell companies, you're not eligible for roaming plans while on the private satellite cell servce. The costs are publicly posted by the carriers and the cruise lines refer you to contact your carrier regarding rates if in doubt.


Be sure to name and shame the cruise line since they didn't warn your fiancee individually when she boarded the boat that she should have contacted her cell provider to confirm the rates before leaving port, even though they recommend it on their websites.

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Maybe people should not use their mobile phone with reckless abandon while on a ship at sea.


This is not Telus' fault.  At all.



Telus should not be sending messages when arriving in Mexus that state welcome to roaming.

They should have clearly stated in thier message that roaming at sea is different than roaming on land.


Give me a break. You really don't believe what you are typing do you.



One ns would think if your average bill is being exceeded by ten times that Telus would send you a message or at least investigate and contact the customer to see what's happening with the account.


kind of like cc companies with ambiguous multiple charges on your card.


You're stupid if you think Telus has no fault in this.

There's no sense calling other people stupid to point out a mistake made by your fiancee.  If you were the one being called,  you might have taken note of the issue yourself.  The name of the carrier on the mobile phone would have changed between being on the Mexican land carrier and on the maritime satellite one.  


There are hundreds of thousands of people who take cruises every year, including likely tens of thousands of Telus customers - and out of those hundreds of thousands of people, how many complaints do you see of people getting a $5000 phone bill?  


Perhaps you should think about that before you start calling other people stupid.  


You're right, Telus does get a cut in this, so if you talk to them nicely and take ownership of the problem, you might get them to forego some of their "cut" and reduce your bill.  Although I sympathize with your plight, that sympathy is getting to be less and less.

What is it you expect from Telus to do on this matter?  The forum members here are all more than likely customers and former customers.  There is more than likely no one high enough up within Telus to acknowledge and potentially address your concerns.  You honestly might have better luck contacting the cruise company because they ultimately bill Telus for your usage and then Telus inflates that cost as their convenience and service fees and passes it on to you.  


Ignorance or a lack of knowledge, however you want to put it, isn't an excuse!  Roaming can be expensive, as your bill proves.  The account holder is responsible for the bill being paid.  If you choose not to pay it, it will eventually end up in collections.  Ultimately, the choice is yours.  Reasonable expectation is that you do your research before using your device while roaming, which doesn't seem to be the case here.  If you had any questions or concerns about your services while roaming, then you should have contacted Telus before your fiancee took her vacation and used the service while roaming.    

When an average traveller receives a text message from Telus and says " welcome to Mexico " and welcoming to roaming the message clearly does not indicate whether it's roaming on land or roaming at sea and therefore the message in itself is ambiguous in nature and misinforming. A high volume of people who receive welcome to roaming have no idea that roaming on land and sea are different costs. Telus as a Company should have informed thier customer when sending the welcome message that different rates apply for land and for sea. But Telus would never want you to know that because guess why..they're making huge money with those who travel on sea and have been tricked to think they are simply roaming.


The courts will decide who's right or wrong and surely will post the results for all to see.

This discussion has turned into a waste of time.  You fail to take the prudent advice offered.


It is your right to pursue this in court if you want - but be wary of the consequences.


Years ago, I was faced with a $2000 roaming bill from a company other than Telus.  However, the issue was solved in an amicable fashion and this seems to not be the option you want to take.


Blaming others for your mistakes is not the path to a good resolution.  

You know what!?

We have spent countless hours on the phone with these guys. On several occasions albeit different ones, they offered to have a manager call us back and resolve this issue.

Guess what? Nobody called!

My finance works in law and will have no problem winning this case.

We have tried more than once to find a happy medium with Telus to no avail.

The countless hours and time we have spent on the phone and in the store will all be part of our legal action against Telus along with a hefty per hour charge for administrating this case.

If Telus wanted to make good, they have my address and have every opportunity to make things right.

Well, that is not the result I got with my issue.  It took one call and was solved within a few minutes, believe it or not.


I explained the issue to the guy, he said to give him a few minutes, he would see what he could do and then came back with an offer which I felt was fair and accepted.


I don't work in law but I don't really see how you have a case. However,  I'm not the judge.   I'm sure everyone will be interested in the outcome.  Good luck.



Good luck on your legal case, which I presume you intend to file in small claims court. 


How do you intend to handle the question, that will surely be asked, did you read the details about  the easy roaming package when you enabled it? 

Since your "fiance works in law" she should understand why TELUS requires customers to opt in to the Easy Roaming service.


Customers when they add the service to their account via  the telus app are provided the details of the service. 


So your argument about a misleading welcome message to the service is irrelevant.  All the message is as stated, a welcome  message to a service that the customer has agreed to and was provided the details about the service.

I believe the roaming message would have been "Welcome to Mexico" and explain what the charges are in Mexico.  A ship at sea is "not" Mexico.  Telus' website explains quite clearly the charges on cruise ships.  I can expect it would be upsetting to receive a $5000 bill,  However, the rule is simple for mobile devices - if you do not know the costs for using it where you are, leave it off or in airplane mode.  



so when a message arrives from Telus that states welcome to Mexico they are referring to land only?


Community Power User
Community Power User

@TelusOnFence wrote:



so when a message arrives from Telus that states welcome to Mexico they are referring to land only?


And that little sliver of water along the coast covered by terrestrial cellular towers. Once you are beyond 12 miles from shore, you are in international waters, and likely beyond any terrestrial cellular signals.


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