Wireless customer unable to make calls while travelling

Key Messages

  • International calling restrictions can be lifted upon request but a service provider may require a deposit or spending limit to be applied to the account.
  • When a service provider promises something to a customer, we expect the provider to follow through.

Summary of the Complaint

Mrs. S was travelling for work and required her wireless phone service while away. She called her service provider a week before her trip to ensure that international calling restrictions would be lifted from her account in order for her to maintain phone service while travelling. Her service provider confirmed all international calling restrictions would be lifted as of the date she was leaving on her trip.

Mrs. S left for her trip and when she landed at her destination, she was unable to make calls from her cell phone. She had to locate another phone with which to contact her service provider and again, requested to have her international restrictions lifted. This process took a few hours as Mrs. S was unable to validate some of her account information and had to discuss the lifting of her international restrictions with multiple departments. She requested compensation for the inconvenience she endured, which the service provider refused to provide. Mrs. S filed a complaint with the CCTS.

What did the CCTS do?

The CCTS reviewed the service provider’s international restriction policy. Based on that policy, the customer’s payment and credit history is reviewed and the customer is required to either put down a deposit or have a spending limit applied in order to have their international restrictions lifted. The CCTS reviewed the account notes and confirmed that Mrs. S called her service provider a week before her trip and requested that international restrictions be lifted from her account. The agent she spoke with made note of her request and ensured her the restrictions would be lifted as of the date of her departure. The account notes also confirmed the conversation Mrs. S had with the service provider while on her trip to dispute the international restrictions that remained on her account.


The CCTS determined the service provider created an obligation when it promised Mrs. S her international restrictions would be lifted on the date of her departure. This obligation was not fulfilled, and Mrs. S was inconvenienced by having to call her service provider again from her destination, to dispute the calling restrictions that remained. The service provider informed the CCTS that although Mrs. S was only without service for a few hours, it offered over half her monthly charge as compensation. The customer accepted the credit and the complaint was resolved.

Key Considerations: When customers travel outside of their own country (or area their service provider covers), their mobile device begins “roaming”, where it connects to infrastructure not owned by their service provider. If the device has “roaming” turned on, it will connect to the nearest tower and “roaming fees” will be applied based on the device’s location. International roaming fees are considerably more expensive. While signing up with a service provider, a credit check takes place, where a customer account might be “internationally restricted”. Alternatively, customers can agree to a credit limit or spending cap being placed on their account. If these are not applied, international restrictions are applied. Once these restrictions are lifted, the device starts roaming.