A US man may have received the highest ever charges for consumer mobile data when he received a bill from AT&T for $28,067.31.
Wayne Burdick, from Schaumburg, Illinois, was on a ship in Miami waiting to leave for a Caribbean cruise when he decided to download and watch a football game from his Slingbox. The Slingbox allows programmes to be downloaded anywhere in the world over the internet.
"I watched for about two and a half hours. Then I shut down my computer and cell phone, because it's expensive to use your internet or phone when you sail out of the country," he told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Unknown to Burdick, the AT&T card modem he was using had not linked into the local Miami network, but to the ship's cellular system which uses a satellite uplink.
The ship's system is based on international call rates and AT&T charges two cents per kilobyte. The football match, between the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions, cost him $27,788.93.
AT&T initially refused to alter the bill, saying that the company had sent him a text message to warn him how much was being spent. However, the card modem Burdick was using does not have the capacity to accept text messages.
The company then offered to reduce the bill to $6,000 after lengthy negotiations. Burdick refused and went to the media. AT&T has now agreed to reduce the bill to $290.65.
The case highlights the perils of data roaming charges. Although technically the cruise ship should not have had its cellular system active while it was in port, there was no way for Burdick to check which network he was using.
Burdick's home team, the Bears, won the game 27-23.
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