Who will pay for the iOS bill shock problem?

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, Telcos, Optus, Telstra


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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  • Oh that is awesome!

    One more great feature of this new phone that sheep tell us is the best ever!
  • Chances are apple will throw its customers under the bus

    if it cant weasel a way to convince the isps to eat it. its not like they shipped a beta os or anything right?
    Johnny Vegas
  • Crapple admit a mistake?

    Never! They don't make them ! It just works! I wish the phone companies would collectively get the stones to make a stand. Enough already. I'd love to see how the fanbois would react if they had to pay it. Of course they would just blame the providers. Fascism definitely at work here.

    Better yet, give the customers their choice of top of the line Android device to use for the week while the issue is fixed. After the week or two, tell then they are stuck with the charges or opt out of the iPhone for the alternate device.

    Actually this would be the perfect chance for Google to step in and cover the cost.. ...come to the rescue with cash and an Alt device like the GS3. Just to make Crapple look bad even if most Fanbois stay loyal, it would plant the seed.. .....
  • Apple is at fault.

    iPhone user here. I'm not a 'sheep' as kids love to label me as, and I think we've distinguished that this is entirely Apple's fault. All smartphone platforms have problems, and let's not resort to petty name calling.

    Apple should absolutely take the blame for this, and they absolutely should be compensating users. Josh is right, and the carriers in this country are probably going to have to foot the bill in waiving costs to consumers, but they should absolutely be approaching Apple (legally, or otherwise) to foot the bill for all negated costs to the consumer, armed with all the evidence they need to support their actions.

    I don't think it's right that the carrier should absorb this screw up. It should be gathered, and sent to Apple and Apple should foot the bill for it.
    Tyler Watson