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Help me not have to sell a kidney to pay for a stupipd iPhone mistake
November 13, 2011 10:16 PM   Subscribe

I just HUGELY went over my Verizon data allowance by streaming something LONG on my iPhone 4s. How screwed am I $$-wise? What should I know before going to the Verizon store first thing in the morning to beg for some kind of mercy?

I'm on a low-usage iPhone plan with Verizon. I just watched a LONG Ustream of the Occupy Oakland General Assembly and forgot to switch my cellular data off and my WiFi on while at home. The one time I forget to switch and I have a moment of NEW PHONE DOES COOL STUFF! Ugh.

My cellular usage reads *GULP* 62.7 GB received. I just got this thing and am still learning how to fly it but OMFG, the website says $10/GB overage fees.

I'm going to go in to the Verizon store first thing in the morning when they open and throw myself on the mercy of the corporation. Is there anything I should know? Is there any hope or do I just have to eat this? Strategy? Any help is appreciated.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey to Computers & Internet (23 answers total)
 
I ended up with a $700 bill last month.
Apparently the charge on a 3g modem is $50 a gig.

I got them to knock it down to about $200 over the phone, so if this is your first time going over the allowance, you will probably have good luck bargaining. They definitely have some leeway in what they actually charge you.
posted by St. Sorryass at 10:27 PM on November 13, 2011


I know someone who has negotiated her bill every month for the last four months. She's with AT&T, but I have a feeling Verizon is similar. Definitely go that route.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:33 PM on November 13, 2011


You can change plans every month, based on your usage that month. See what high volume data plan you can switch to for this month and then switch back next month.
posted by bswinburn at 10:37 PM on November 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Did you get this from the store, or from someone else? Because 62GB for a video stream is way huge/over the top/unlikely. It seems much more likely that this is 62GB over the lifetime of the phone.
posted by sbutler at 10:58 PM on November 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I know it is the case with T-Mobile, and I believe the case with Verizon, that you can change your plan retroactive to the beginning of the current bill period. So you are only in a bind once the bill arrives ... since you caught it early, you should be able to just switch to some sort of better plan for the current period, then change back, as bswinburn suggests.

That assumes Verizon offers some more generous plans than what you are on.

If you are on a "legacy" plan that you wanted to keep though ... sorry.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:04 PM on November 13, 2011


SButler: The phone is only a couple of weeks old. So even if it is over the life of the phone, I haven't even gotten my first bill yet.

This is helping lots.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:06 PM on November 13, 2011


My cellular usage reads *GULP* 62.7 GB received. ... The phone is only a couple of weeks old. So even if it is over the life of the phone, I haven't even gotten my first bill yet.

But how much of that is over WiFi?
posted by Gyan at 11:08 PM on November 13, 2011


It's highly unlikely that watching a stream of OWS would use up over 60 gigs of data. To put this into perspective, you would need to stream a BluRay movie in its entirety to reach 50 gigs of data. Call Verizon, I'm sure they'll sort things out for you.
posted by sid at 11:15 PM on November 13, 2011


62 GB * 1024 MB/GB * 8 bits/byte = 507904 Mbits

Fastest speeds I could find for a Verizon iPhone says around 1.2Mbps. So...

507904 Mbits / 1.2 Mbps = 423253 seconds.
423253 / 60 sec/min / 60 min/hr / 24 hrs/day = 4.9 days

I was hoping to tell you it would be impossible to download 62GB over your phone in a couple weeks, but looks like I'm wrong :( But certainly your long OWS stream wasn't nearly 5 days long (!!) So you must have a ton of other usage in there.
posted by sbutler at 11:17 PM on November 13, 2011


I had a similar prob with ATT while traveling in italy (wifi/non-wifi) - talked to their customer service folks at length, the rolled the bill back to what it would have cost with unlimited data. probably a card you only get to play once, but play it, and articulate your case well.
posted by specialk420 at 11:39 PM on November 13, 2011


Unless OWS was broadcasting in superHD over YouTube-grade servers and you had the video running for several days, there's simply no way you downloaded 62GB of data overnight.
posted by spitbull at 3:35 AM on November 14, 2011


Are you looking at your usage on the phone, or on AT&T's webpage?

Yes, I have had no problem getting AT&T to switch me to a different plan when I have an overage. I would suggest waiting a day or two, in case AT&T's data calculation is messed up, and then call them and tell them that you accidentally used a ton of data and would like to see what they can do for you. I have found that being friendly to a helpful customer service agent can get you the world. One time, I had a bad charge on my phone bill (one of those $9.99 a month "unlimited ringtone" scams), and the CS person was able to go back in time 6 months and remove them.
posted by gjc at 4:37 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Call up customer service and ask them to help. They will. Every time we go over our minutes on our family plan, my mom calls them up and gets out of paying. Usually they have a special promotion and just give us extra minutes.
posted by DoubleLune at 5:18 AM on November 14, 2011


I hope this isn't too off topic, just a quick tip: I highly reccomend leaving Wifi turned on on your phone at all times so that your phone will automatically join wifi networks it has used in the past without your having to switch it. Its battery effects used to be major but with newer iPhones it is pretty negligible.
I also reccomend enabling "Ask To Join Networks." This basically means that whenever you start using the internet your phone checks to see if there is wifi around, and if there is it pops up a message asking if you would like to use it.
I use a TON of data on my iPhone but have never gone over my data plan due to these two settings.
posted by raygan at 5:20 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


With Verizon, stressing how long you've been a customer usually works. But don't go to the store--call customer service. The store can't help.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:19 AM on November 14, 2011


Don't trust what your iPhone is telling you. I also have a new iPhone on Verizon, and I do not find the "cellular data usage" information to be accurate. My phone right now says I've sent 43.7 GB and received 175 GB of data over the cellular network over the lifetime of the phone (which I got on October 14, or whenever it was released), but My Verizon tells me that, since October 15, I've used .65 GB of data. Clearly there's a discrepancy there!

My advice is to log in to your Verizon account online and view your data usage there. See what the damage is (if there is any)(, and then go into the store or call customer care and start negotiating/change your plan if you have, in fact, gone over your limit.
posted by devinemissk at 6:41 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I highly reccomend leaving Wifi turned on on your phone at all times so that your phone will automatically join wifi networks it has used in the past without your having to switch it. Its battery effects used to be major but with newer iPhones it is pretty negligible.

And I second this. I had been in the habit of switching WiFi on and off with my old phone (crappy Android phone), but have just been leaving WiFi on with my iPhone, and I haven't noticed any adverse battery effects.
posted by devinemissk at 6:48 AM on November 14, 2011


For future reference, you can track the details of your usage on the My Verizon section of their site and set up alerts to help you track these things.
posted by idb at 7:15 AM on November 14, 2011


Anecdata: Although my home wi-fi is on all the time, when streaming movies on the iPhone at home, my lovely iPhone has been known to switch over to cellular. I haven't figured out why yet. But I've gone from 150 mb to 2 gb (or some ungodly number) in an afternoon. (Tracking doesn't help me with my big mistakes. Just with my regular usage.) So I make sure to just turn off the cellular network when at home.
posted by SLC Mom at 7:24 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


My phone right now says I've sent 43.7 GB and received 175 GB of data over the cellular network over the lifetime of the phone (which I got on October 14, or whenever it was released), but My Verizon tells me that, since October 15, I've used .65 GB of data. Clearly there's a discrepancy there!

Ooohh... this is a gerat point. The various networks divide their cellular bandwidth/channels differently. I believe that on Verizon's CDMA the voice and data share a channel, where as on AT&T's GSM voice and data are separate.

So on Verizon the iPhone may be counting your voice traffic and data traffic together! But certainly Verizon doesn't bill that way. That would, in my mind, explain the outrageous 62GB download, and your 175GB: it's counting your phone calls too.
posted by sbutler at 10:42 AM on November 14, 2011


The voice codec that I believe the iPhone uses (Wideband AMR) when not bandwidth-constrained is 19.85 kbit/s, which works out to be almost 5 days (7,000+ minutes) continuous voice use per GB. So you'd have to be burning a lot of minutes for that to be pushing your bandwidth up significantly.

Not saying it's impossible, but based on your number of minutes used you should be able to back out the bandwidth consumed by voice, at least as a worst-case estimate, pretty easily.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:46 AM on November 14, 2011


So on Verizon the iPhone may be counting your voice traffic and data traffic together! But certainly Verizon doesn't bill that way. That would, in my mind, explain the outrageous 62GB download, and your 175GB: it's counting your phone calls too.

Further anecdata: I make very few phone calls, and certainly not nearly enough to account for 175GB worth of anything. I think the iPhone is either tracking data usage that is not strictly cellular network usage (though I would be shocked to know I've received 175GB of data even over WiFi, since I don't stream movies or play games with an online component), or it's just wrong. Frankly, I'm going with just wrong.

The underlying point, though, is to check your data usage with Verizon and not with your iPhone, because Verizon is the one billing you, not your iPhone.
posted by devinemissk at 12:00 PM on November 14, 2011


GOOD NEWS! I discovered that calling #DATA causes the system to send you a TXT message. Actually even w/ last night's UStream, I'm at .42 GB of cellular use, NOT 62.5GB.

Gotta learn how this whole teknolojee thang works. I've been rockin' a Fred Flintstone Special for so long, I'm stall amazed that a little bird doesn't fly out of the phone every time I send a message.

THANKS everyone!
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 2:56 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


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