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Travel News

Cruiser disputes $28,000 bill for wireless session on ship

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Written by editor

Be careful when using your cell phone or wireless card on a cruise ship – even if the ship is docked in a U.S. port.

Be careful when using your cell phone or wireless card on a cruise ship – even if the ship is docked in a U.S. port.

That’s the lesson today from a story in the Chicago Sun-Times about a cruiser hit with a $27,789 bill for a single wireless session while on a vessel docked in Miami.

Wayne Burdick of Schaumburg, Ill., tells the news outlet he used his AT&T wireless service from a ship in November to watch a Chicago Bears football game for more than two hours (using his AT&T wireless card with his laptop to call up an Internet feed of his home cable signal).

Burdick says he watched the game before the ship set sail for the Caribbean, and his cell phone wasn’t in roaming mode, so he assumed the wireless card was picking up a local Miami signal and the session would be free (he has a plan with unlimited domestic minutes). But the wireless session was billed at the sky-high international roaming rates that apply to calls and data transfers made from ships at sea.

The Sun-Times, which intervened with AT&T on Burdick’s behalf, says it was a “freak thing” that Burdick’s wireless service picked up the international roaming signal from the ship instead of available domestic signals while the ship was in port. Still, it remains a cautionary tale.

The good news for Burdick: The news outlet convinced AT&T to credit Burdick for the call.