导读：身在国外旅游，最绞尽脑汁的可能就是怎样节省昂贵的国际漫游电话费用。Jeff Gardner就碰到了这样的困扰，在牙买加的4天之旅后，他竟然收到了高达$11,000 的电话账单！尽管认为自己已经非常注意节省，仍然避免不了这样的昂贵的代价。其实，除了开通国际漫游之外，我们还有别的方式节省电话费，比如买当地的电话卡或是利用wifi网络接通Skype，等等。
It’s hard not to feel ripped off when you get hit with unexpected roaming charges while traveling abroad — whether they come from making phone calls or checking e-mail. Take it from Jeff Gardner, who received an $11,000 bill from Verizon after spending four days in Jamaica. Before the trip, Mr. Gardner, who runs a fly-fishing business in Grayling, Mich., said he called Verizon to find out what it would cost to use his cellphone for calls and his wireless air card to check e-mail on his laptop while in the Caribbean. He said he was told that calls would be about $2 a minute and that there would be no extra charges for data as he was on an unlimited plan. The latter part turned out to be wrong.
“I don’t mind paying a fair amount for fair service, but $11,000 for four days is ridiculous,” said Mr. Gardner, who used his phone sparingly on the trip. He also tried to check and send e-mail using his laptop’s wireless card, but quickly gave up after the e-mails didn’t go through. Still, his Verizon bill said more than 500,000 kilobytes of data was transferred while he was in Jamaica, an amount Mr. Gardner said is 100 times what he normally uses in a month.
As travelers increasingly use smartphones abroad in the same way they do at home — to check e-mail, update Facebook and Twitter and pull up online maps — many are facing costly roaming fees, which providers charge when customers use their phones outside their service area. In fact, roaming charges have gotten so out of hand that the Federal Communications Commission has proposed a plan that would require wireless companies to send their customers a voice or text message when they are approaching their plan’s limit, when they have reached that limit and when they are starting to incur roaming fees. A survey by the commission found that one in six mobile users have experienced “bill shock” from unanticipated roaming charges or other confusing fees.
Carriers say they already offer alerts via text message or e-mail when consumers approach or go over certain usage thresholds. But the Federal Communications Commission says such warnings vary widely by provider and type of service covered and that consumer protection is insufficient. When Mr. Gardner complained to Verizon about his $11,000 bill, for example, the carrier told him he was repeatedly sent roaming alerts via text and e-mail. But he never got the alerts since his cellphone and e-mail didn’t work in Jamaica.
Thomas Pica, a Verizon spokesman, said, “We send a welcome message to our customers informing them of international rates where they are roaming as well as text alerts,” and added that the carrier just expanded those alerts to begin when a customer hits $25 and continue at different increments to $1,000 and then again every $1,000 after that.
So how do you avoid the charges? This week’s column tackles phone calls. Next week’s will look at everything else — from checking e-mail to using online maps and updating Facebook and Twitter — all of which involve transferring costly data. Below, Part 1 of the Practical Traveler’s guide to bulletproofing your wireless bill while abroad.