International roaming rip off

I arrived back from Europe this week very much poorer and only able to use my mobile in Europe three times in four weeks.
By the time I arrived there my data had exceeded the limit of $200 and my phone was barred.
I didn’t know all apps need data every day.
But I now face an invoice exceeding $500.00.
It continues to increase even though I have turned off roaming.
Is there a good provider?
I intend to appeal to the TIO but I have to get over my jetlag!


Prior to contacting the TIO I suggest you have a good read of your service plan and educate yourself on how apps work and your providers’ international rates so you can make your case based on relevant information.

Not only do apps sometimes use data even while shown active but idling (ie in background not being used), some will use data even while not visibly active. Most of them update themselves routinely for a few MB each, each time.

Unless one has an unlimited or very generous mobile data plan most phone users are best served to set mobile data disabled and/or only use data when wifi is connected, and or/to disable automatic updating so you can use your data when it suits you, not whenever the app wants to. And this at home. As you inadvertently discovered, international roaming is usually Very Expensive.

Regarding how plans work, some hit you hard and some can knock you over. My mobile service is amaysim which is very cost effective here, especially for a low-use user like myself, but they have high international roaming rates - their clear advice that there are better ways than roaming is generally applicable regardless of your provider - eg get a local SIM at your destination and forward your Aussie number to it as most plans have outgoing international calls (eg forwards) in the $0.05 - $0.20 minute range, well under roaming charges.

Other options are products such as Travelsim.


Thanks Phil.

I now know this but I didn’t when I was away.
It’s more about how iiNet treated my queries. They sent generic emails which instructed me to ring them, and I couldn’t.
They barred my calls but the data kept flowing. I’m still paying for it.

So, not so simple.

Thanks for your response



If you have an Android phone, one can use the internal Android settings to prevent overcharging when away…limit downloads.

This website or this one tells you how.

When travelling overseas it’s always best to purchase a prepaid SIM from a local provider and swap out with your Australian SIM. Safest way to prevent bill shock. Many free apps allow you to make voice calls back to your loved ones.


Our approach to using the phone overseas is to use a Telstra Travel Pass. Somewhat expensive but your phone will connect to a variety of local providers as you travel around. This is particularly useful if you travel to a neighbouring country as often a local SIMS will not work. I once purchased a Lebara SIM in Sydney before travelling to the UK. An absolute disaster. It ran out of credit almost instantly and once you have no credit you cannot even phone Lebara for a credit top up. One of the big traps is that Australian credit cards are not valid for topping up these pay-as-you-go plans online.
On the other hand a local data SIM for the iPad worked very well. It was from EE. Highly recommended whilst in the UK. However, if you cross from Northern Ireland to the Irish Republic it will not work. By the way the only way you know you crossed this border in some places is because your phone will let you know you have just entered a foreign country.
However, I really do think that international roaming is a massive rip-off. I really cannot see how it could cost the amount that the telcos are charging. I suppose it really is a situation where a very captive market is created by you travelling.