American Tourist Racks up Surprise $143K Bill From Texting

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: Apr 23, 2024

Rene Remund, an American tourist, went on a short holiday trip to Switzerland in September of 2023. Remund has often made this trip, as he is originally from Switzerland.

However, when he returned to the United States and received his phone bill, he was shocked to discover that he owed more than $143,000.

A Normal Overseas Trip

According to Remund, he and his wife have taken this trip to Switzerland before and never had an issue. He’s well aware that his cellphone provider needed to know that he was going to be going overseas for a short trip.

A village seen in Switzerland by mountains in the daytime.

Source: Tim Trad/Unsplash

Remund didn’t think anything of his upcoming trip — or how he may eventually be given an astronomical bill.


Notifying His Cellphone Provider

As Remund has taken this trip before, he went to his local T-Mobile store to let them know that he was going to be overseas in the near future. His cellphone provider assured him that he would be fine.

A lit-up T-Mobile sign on top of a building in the evening.

Source: Mika Baumeister/Unsplash

Remund has been a customer of T-Mobile for 30 years. According to him, the store told him that he was “covered”. He didn’t need to do anything else before he went to Switzerland.

A Switzerland Trip

So, thinking everything was in order, Remund and his wife headed to the Swiss countryside. They enjoyed their holiday vacation — and communicated with many of their friends and loved ones through messages.

A bird’s eye view of Bern, Switzerland at night.

Source: Noah Grossenbacher/Unsplash

Remund sent many of his family members photos of his trip while he was there. Not once did he think this would eventually become an issue.

A T-Mobile Bill

When Remund first got home and received his T-Mobile bill, he didn’t think anything of it. He simply glanced at the bill and thought it said that it was $143.

An up-close look at a smartphone open and its many apps.

Source: Rami Al-zayat/Unsplash

According to Remund, he thought this bill was “reasonable.” So, he went to pay it, just as he always does.

Another Glance at the Bill

It was when Remund went to pay the bill that he took another glance at it — and what he found absolutely shocked him. While he at first thought the bill was only $143, he quickly realized that he was wrong.

A person holding up a cellphone that is open to apps.

Source: Saulo Mohana/Unsplash

Instead, his bill was more than $143,000. He couldn’t believe it and thought there was surely some mistake with the bill he was given.


Calling T-Mobile

Immediately, Remund knew he needed this issue fixed. So, he called T-Mobile. At first, he was put on hold while the woman helping him looked at his account. She had to check things through and ensure this massive bill was accurate.

A close-up of a man talking on his cell phone.

Source: freestocks/Unsplash

When she finally got back on the phone with him, he was dismayed to learn from her that she had found that this bill was an accurate bill. He owed more than $143,000.


Why Did This Bill Cost So Much?

According to the bill, Remund was charged this huge amount because of what daily roaming costs charge. While he was in Switzerland, he texted many of his family members and friends.

An aerial view of Bern, Switzerland and a bridge over a body of water.

Source: Mads Egmose/Unsplash

During his time on his holiday trip, he used about 9.5 GB of data. While this isn’t necessarily a large amount of data used, he wasn’t covered by roaming fees.


Data and Roaming Fees

Even though the T-Mobile worker had told Remund that he was covered before he went to Switzerland, his bill seemed to suggest otherwise. He wasn’t covered.

A man using his cellphone.

Source: NordWood Themes/Unsplash

If one isn’t covered by roaming fees, they could end up running up thousands of dollars daily, simply by texting their friends.


Hiring a Lawyer

After getting this confirmation from a T-Mobile worker on the phone, Remund immediately hired a lawyer. After all, Remund was initially told that he was covered for international roaming.

A man holding a phone open to many apps.

Source: Frederik Lipfert/Unsplash

Since he was covered, he shouldn’t have been charged at all — especially not this excessive amount.


Receiving T-Mobile Credit

Remund’s lawyer quickly got to work and issued a letter to the president of T-Mobile. However, a reply was not given until much later.

A smartphone open to its lock screen on a white surface.

Source: Koby Kelsey/Unsplash

Eventually, Remund learned that he would be given a credit to completely eliminate the $143,000 bill that he had received. A letter from the company to Remund also apologized for these charges. Now, Remund doesn’t have to pay this massive amount.


T-Mobile’s Warning

However, T-Mobile has also issued a warning to the rest of its customers by reminding them that they need to be aware of what their plan has when it comes to international data roaming.

The back of a phone seen as someone holds it in their hands.

Source: Onur Binay/Unsplash

T-Mobile has stated, “If a customer is on an older plan that doesn’t include international roaming for data and calling, they’ll need to make sure they’re using aeroplane mode and wi-fi when using data to be certain the device doesn’t connect to an international network.”