Warning: Adelaide’s Mayor Ran Up A $20,000 Data Roaming Bill

Warning: Adelaide’s Mayor Ran Up A $20,000 Data Roaming Bill

Yet another reminder that roaming your phone when travelling internationally is a lousy idea. Adelaide’s Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood is facing a $20,000 bill after a trip to Malaysia for a regional summit.

Picture: mikecogh

Yarwood’s total is even higher than that of Malcolm Turnbull, who ran up $13,000 in a month (and subsequently paid the money back). Yarwood was using Telstra, which remains the most expensive of Australia’s carriers to roam with despite recent reductions.

The lesson? Don’t use roaming if at all possible. Check out our guide to the 10 best ways to avoid roaming rorts.

‘Frugal’ mayor caught out by $20K data roaming bill [ABC News]


  • I usually just take my SIM out before I get on the plane and don’t put it in until I get back to Australia. Depending on the country, buying a prepaid SIM when you get there is a better idea – Asian countries are brilliant for this.

    Otherwise you get stung roaming charge the moment your SIM connects to a foreign network, even if you don’t send messages or make any calls.

    • no you don’t get charged for connecting to a foreign network, i think what catches most people out is their data starts syncing in the background once they connect.

      • Yeah, you don’t. Be smart about it. Turn off data and don’t rely on the network. I’ve roamed for 3 weeks receiving only SMS’s and replying via Skype on wifi connection to reply with my number in the sender field. If you don’t have voicemail – you see who calls and you call them back via Skype too. Easy.

  • Sorry.. Not sure that’s the ‘lesson’.. Considering this is our tax money 99% likely….
    I might never afford to buy a house in this country, but they can waste 13k on roaming charges. Cool stuff.

    • Yeah. No-one from anywhere else, that should know better, gets caught out like this. Great comment.

    • I had a $13,000 bill waived by Telstra. Although, it took 5 months of battling with that disgusting company, 36 hours of hold time and 480 different transfers to departments that had no idea of how to deal with the situation. They will waive anything and everything if it prevented bad press. One lady also told me on the phone that if you esculate a complaint that they will give you up to $800 compensation. Infact, with my home line since they left us without internet for 3 months (completely their fault in regards to having us at a different address in their system) we had $1300 credited to our account.

      All you have to do is ask. Don’t feel greedy.

    • When it’s international roaming the money is usually due to be payed to international carriers largely. It’s not just telstra trying to rort you heh.

    • I’ve had a Telstra pay 2/3’s of a 91k roaming bill when Apple had that calendar bug and we had a MD who insisted on roaming data no matter the time.

  • its not that hard to do that. weve had people in our company (technologically inept people) go overseas with no idea about roaming costs. weve had a few bills over $10,000. i dont blame Stephen Yarwood, but more the people that buy and supply his phone and contract for lack of communication and or education. having said all that – he very well maybe completely to blame, but for a bill that large – it looks like he wasnt in the know.

  • I’m a government employee and always get the hard word from our Telecomms dept about disabling data on my work phone before going overseas. Clearly it’s one rule for the masters and another for us worker bees.

  • Interesting to see that Taiwan (in the original ABC New article) has somehow moved into Malaysia for this article. Geography was never my best subject, but…

    “Mr Yarwood was in Taiwan for the Asia Pacific City Summit.”

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