B.C. woman gets charges for cell phone roaming in her own home

Jane Goundrey lives in B.C. near the province’s border with Washington, and like many Canadians, often uses her cell phone in and around her home.

Unfortunately, that’s costing her more than $400 in roaming charges.

A customer of Rogers Wireless, Goundrey says that she has been charged for roaming because the powerful signal from U.S. carrier AT&T in Washington is far stronger than that of Rogers, so her and her family’s cell phones switch to the U.S. network, CBC reports.

“It has literally been a nightmare dealing with this,” Goudrey, who lives in White Rock, B.C., told CBC. “We’ve roamed inside our house at least 75, 80 per cent of the time.”

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Goudrey says that the main reason these charges have kept happening over the last three years is because Rogers Wireless doesn’t provide sufficient coverage in her area. When Gourdrey first flagged the error to Rogers, they refunded her the $400 she had accrued while ‘roaming’ in her home. However Goudrey says she needs to spend hours going over her phone bills and notifying Rogers so they can reverse the charges.

Another White Rock resident, Kirk Mitchell, told CBC he has the same issue.

“I have this problem with Rogers on my BlackBerry,” Mitchell said in an email.” The contract termination costs with Rogers are very costly – so I just resign to do quarterly venting to customer service.”

The problem isn’t limited to Western Canada, either. Windsor residents have complained about their phone service defaulting to U.S. signals from neighbouring Detroit for several years now, according to The Windsor Star. At one point, there was even concern that 911 callers in Windsor were being connected to dispatchers in Detroit.

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While the major wireless carriers have tried to improve the situation across the country,  it is likely that Canadians who live along the borders will have to deal with the problem themselves for the foreseeable future.

“We live in a long thin band along the U.S. border,” Carmi Levy, a telecom industry analyst, told CBC. “Really the only solution to this is to ensure that the Canadian network always prevails over the American one. To do that you would have to have more cell towers with more powerful equipment.”

“[Regulation of signal strength and new cell towers] is an area where both Canadian and American carriers have to get together and come up with a solution that works for everyone because the status quo is completely unacceptable.”

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