US family’s mobile plan has free roaming: Sprint charges $2,300 anyway

An East Bay family was shocked to come home to an astronomical cellphone bill from Sprint when they came back from a cruising in Mexico

This family of four had unlimited texts and calls on their cellphones, and Mexico ws included. Yet, they came home to a horrendous shock: their “free” service cost thousands of dollars.

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The family figured they could use their phones freely. Sprint had assured them their plan included unlimited texts and calls in Mexico.

“They said ‘yeah it’s free no worries it’s covered,'” said father. “My dad went out of his way to make sure it wouldn’t cost extra, we could use the phone as we normally do,” said one of the daughters.

So they were stunned when they got back home and Sprint called to say they owed thousands of dollars for using their phones on the trip.

“I was in shock. I said, ‘I can’t believe it,'” Roland said. “I said, ‘how can I get charged for that if my plan is included in Mexico.'”

At first Roland thought the call was a scam, but Sprint confirmed he owed $2,300, almost as much as the cruise. The bill shows charges for phone minutes and all those text messages – Charmaine (daughter) alone sent 1,700 of them.

My phone number was the one that racked up the most amount of money, so that kinda sucked,” she said.

Sprint said Roland’s plan does cover Mexico, but not for this trip. Why? Because they were on a cruise ship.

Roland wasn’t buying it. “I’m just going to Mexico, it just happened we ride in a boat.”

Sprint offered a 10 percent discount, then 20 percent, then 50 percent. Roland kept refusing.

“It’s not fair,” he said. “He said ‘we have to call Michael Finney,'” Charmaine said.

ABC‘s ‘7 On Your Side’ reached out to Sprint. It tells us the plan doesn’t cover international waters, where a ship’s cell towers transmit signals.

If you're going on a cruise, make sure to check with your carriers about what rates will apply in 
international waters. They're usually not the same as rates on land. And your cruise ship likely will offer 
its own cellphone plan.

However, this story had happy end:  Sprint made an exception — and waived all of those charges.

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