Who will pay for the iOS bill shock problem?

Summary:iOS 6 chewing through mobile data, even when Wi-Fi is turned on, is a major problem for Apple and the telcos. But who will eventually pay for it?

Since upgrading to iOS 6, users across the globe have been reporting higher than expected mobile data usage, even when using Wi-Fi. The question is, who will get the bill once Apple fixes the problem?

Apple has not really acknowledged the problem so far, though it quietly fixed the problem for Verizon customers in the US at the end of September. But the issue is still affecting Australian iPhone users, with many turning to Apple's support page, the telco's own discussion forums, and broadband forum Whirlpool for answers.

One Whirlpool user said that using an iPhone 5, they had managed to use 5GB of data in a single week and had received a bill from Telstra for AU$1,300. One Vodafone customer said that they had used 20GB and was looking at a massive AU$6000 bill.

The official line from Telstra is that the company is aware of the issue and is looking into it, Optus said that it was still investigating the root cause of the issue, and Vodafone said it was aware of the issue and was monitoring it. It is easy enough to work around it if you just turn off the cellular data on your iPhone when connected to a Wi-Fi network. No doubt, we'll get a carrier settings update soon that fixes it, but for those who haven't kept an eagle eye on their data usage may be in for a shock when it comes to bill time.

And who exactly will be paying for that bill? The customer thought they were doing the right thing by offloading their data usage to the Wi-Fi network, and it's not the telco's fault; they were merely providing the customer with what they wanted. Add to that, the three major telcos already alert their customers when they're nearing their data limits. It's really Apple's fault, but I sincerely doubt Apple will be offering any sort of compensation to customers who have had a problem with this issue.

Telstra said it would inform customers about the problem where it needed to, and Optus said it'd work with customers on a case-by-case basis to address concerns about discrepancies between mobile data and Wi-Fi usage.

I wouldn't be surprised if the telcos ultimately took this one on the chin. Apple messed up, but it isn't going to be the one to end up dealing with a complaint to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) if the customer tries to get out of paying the bill. And in such a tight mobile market that exists in Australia right now, every mobile operator is focused on keeping their customer base.

A quick glance of Optus' community website suggests that it is already happening, with one user claiming that Optus has already waived the data charges received as a result of the bug.

Have you been using more mobile data than expected? Who should pay for the excess data usage?

Topics: iPhone, Apple, Optus, Telcos, Telstra

About

Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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