Telstra Adds Bill Shock Alerts For International Roamers

Telstra Adds Bill Shock Alerts For International Roamers

Telstra has announced it will now send automatic data usage alerts via SMS to customers roaming overseas. Alerts will be sent to the user every time they pass 20 megabytes of data. Do you think the alerts go far enough?

Paris roaming picture from Shutterstock

According to Telstra, the new international roaming alerts are designed to keep its customers informed of how much data they are using whilst travelling — and just in time for the European summer, too.

“A growing number of our customers are taking their mobile devices overseas to access their emails, get live maps and stay connected to their favourite social networks while travelling,” said Telstra Mobile director Tim Webber. “To help customers manage their data costs, we will now automatically send our customers data usage alerts via SMS every time they roam overseas.”

To be honest, we’re not sure this announcement is anything worth crowing about. This is something that consumers really should have been getting years ago. (It’s akin to a bank proudly boasting that its ATMs now provide a warning about hidden transaction fees.)

Plus, the fact remains that Telstra is an eye-wateringly expensive proposition overseas — one megabyte of excess data will cost you $15.36, which means you’ll be more than $300 out-of-pocket by the time you get the first alert outside of your data allowance. We’ve asked Telstra about its reasoning behind setting the alerts at 20MB and are currently waiting to hear back from them.

UPDATE: Telstra has since sent through the following explanation: “We send an educational message as soon as any customer turns roaming on, advising them that they’ll receive alerts for each 20MB used and how they can manage costs, including how to buy a data pack. In order for the alerts to be issued in a timely manner, they are sourced at the network level, which means before we know whether it’s for a consumer or business customer or whether they have a data pack or not. They cannot be individually tailored and we feel that this figure attains the right balance for all customers across all of our business units.”

On the plus side, Telstra has increased the value included in its International Casual Traveller Data Packs, which now provide double the amount of data and an additional 25 eligible countries for a total of 50 (new additions include India, Ireland and Vietnam). You can read more about Telstra’s alerts and data packs here.

If you are planning an overseas trip in the coming months, also be sure to check out our guide on how to avoid roaming rorts.


  • That shutterstock photo: “two girls experience Paris as tourists”. Really? They’re in Paris, they’ve got the Eiffel Tower in the background, they’re sitting on the banks of the Seine, and how do they choose to soak all this up? By texting. Eliot springs to mind: “We grope together / And avoid speech / Gathered on this beach of the tumid river”


    Which will of course, also help reduce costs from those obscene Telstra roaming rates.

  • Given that you can download data at rates of up to 2MB/s over 3G in some European countries, Telstra is going to have to be very fast in sending these alerts. Carriers in Australia have refused to implement live billing so it will be interesting to see how Telstra manages these notifications.

  • Not really on topic I guess, but every time I see someone ask if something “goes far enough”, I can’t help but think of Futurama.

    “I say your three cent titanium tax goes too far!”
    “And I say your three cent titanium tax doesn’t go too far enough!”

  • Enabling roaming for voice and sms should be separate to data, you should only be able to buy prepaid roaming data unless you sign a waiver.

    Frankly they shouldn’t be (half assedly) addressing mobile roaming issues until they fix local fees, i got slugged $40 extra by Live Connected for calling the telstra prepaid support number 1258880 (at telstras behest) after problems recharging my 4g hotspot by credit card. WTF why does calling a 12XX number cost $1 a minute there should at least be warnings before the call is connected if they are going to do that.

    Landlines are on the way out, mobiles should be flat fee all included in any monthly call allowances for any number except for ones that should obviously cost extra like 1902, human side of directory assistance (though who needs that with google/white/yellow page access on the phone these days) and international calls (unless of course you have an international allowance on your plan).

  • They seriously need to consider Pre-paid International data packs or create deals with overseas carriers for cheaper data costs etc.

    So many times when I worked at a Telstra call centre having to credit back customers usage charges due to an old Data pack attached to an account.
    The highest credit I had to give to a customer was $280,000 worth of international data usage due to a crappy old data pack that would charge at 2c per KB.

  • anyone who uses telstra’s data roaming deserves to get the bill! $15 per Megabyte is just plain ridiculous!

    Grab yourself a local sim and run with it!

  • I second greg! Definitely get a local sim card. I can recommend AT&T in the USA and Three in the UK. I got an AT&T USA sim card from for a recent trip to the USA and got a Three UK sim card from my friend in the UK for a trip there last year. Just make sure your phone is network locked! My friend forgot to unlock here iPhone and it was a nightmare trying to do it overseas!

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