A very polite and useful note from O2 on iPhone roaming data

A week or so ago I was getting a connecting flight at Schipol airport. I was looking for some wifi to check my email, when suddenly my phone connected via 3G. I double checked, and my data roaming was definitely off (see below). That was a bit of a worry.


Anyway, sure enough I got billed a few quid for that moment of connection. I thought I’d take it up with O2, not so much because I wanted the cash back, but more because I wanted to make sure I didn’t do it again. What follows is the most polite and helpful email I’ve ever read. It’s so polite that you’d almost think it was written by a 419 scammer. Hope it’s useful, and as Firdaus from O2 says “have a nice time”.

Hello Jonathan 

Thanks for your email about the data charges.

Jonathan, I’d like to tell you that charges for using internet whilst 
abroad are comparatively high and it doesn’t include in your iPhone 
tariffs. Using data whilst in Netherlands cost you £3 per MB Therefore, 
you’ve been charged:

– £1.87 for downloading 748 KB.

I’d like to tell you that all the above mentioned charges are excluding 
VAT. You’ll be happy to know that I’ve applied a credit of £1.87 to your
account for these charges. You can view this credit in the ‘Recent 
charges’ section of your bill and it’ll be adjusted on your next bill. 
However, please note that it’ll be a one off credit and we’ll be unable 
to refund any such charges to your account in the future. 

Just for your information, I’d like to tell you that the iPhone allows 
applications to use data in the background even if you’ve switched of 
data. The email feature of the iPhone can use data even when data is 
turned off. You may switch the email retrieval mode to ‘Manual’ rather 
than ‘Automatic’. There are may other applications that override the 
Data Roaming block. The reason these applications manage to do so is 
because these Applications are developed by developers and they can 
programme them to override the feature for functionality.   

The only way to completely stop roaming charges Jonathan, while abroad 
is to delete the APN. By deleting the settings manually you can avoid 
the higher data roaming charges. To do that please follow the steps 

– from your home screen tap settings 

– tap general 

– tap network 

– tap cellular data network

– tap APN and either delete completely or delete co.uk so that the 
settings are incomplete.   

Once the settings have been changed your iPhone will no longer be able 
to connect to idata.co.uk. When you return to the UK or want to access 
internet again, simply repeat the steps above and re-enter the correct 
APN, idata.co.uk.  You can also update your iPhone to the latest 
firmware to avoid this. You may do by clicking on the link below: 


Jonathan, you can also receive your account balance by text, all you 
need to do is send a text ‘Bundle’ to 21202. You’ll receive details for 
the following types of account information:

– remaining minutes allowance 
– remaining text allowance 
– remaining data allowance 
– recent charges (unbilled since last bill).

Hope the above information is helpful in avoiding data roaming charges 
in the future. If you should have any further questions, please visit 
our online help centre at:


Have a nice time.

Kind regards 

O2 customer service

By Jon Hickman

Hi, I'm Jon. I teach and research digital culture, social media and new media practice at Birmingham City University. Find out more about me with this lovely CV: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/jonhickman Find out about my work at the Birmingham Centre for Media & Cultural Research: http://interactivecultures.org