Following is an email I sent to AT&T, and their response:
My name is Eric Woodard, and I have opened a case with you, #7312317.
The case involves roaming charges on my July bill. I was charged almost $200 in roaming in Bethel, AK.
I have never been to Bethel, AK, nor have I ever been within 350 miles of Bethel, AK. I have credit cards proving I was over 350 miles away each day I was charged roaming.
The story I have heard from the customer service operators I have spoken with is that my cell phone must have picked up the cell tower in Bethel. However, I cannot find one place online that shows a cell tower range of over 50 miles. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cell_phone_tower). Furthermore, on the days in question, my credit card records will show I was in cities that had coverage--cities over 350 miles away.
I called three weeks ago and told my story, assuming that the misunderstanding would be cleared up. Having not heard back, I called today and was told that I will not be refunded these fraudulent charges unless I switch to a more expensive plan with a two-year commitment. That is unfair.
I have been a Cingular/AT&T customer in good standing since 2001. I have never asked for a refund of roaming charges, nor have I ever missed a payment. If I tallied up how much money I have given your company over the years, I conservatively estimate the total would be over $6000. I would think you could fix this type of mistake for a customer like me.
I am very upset that I am being charged for something I can PROVE I did not do. If your company refuses to refund the charges, not only will I pay whatever fee necessary to cancel my service, I will forward this email to all of my friends, post this to my blog, and post this to my Facebook profile, makiang sure that everybody knows how dangerous it is to get their phone through AT&T.
This is a matter of principle. I am telling you the truth, and you are telling me that there is nothing you can do. That is very disappointing.
Dear Mr. Woodard,
Thank you for contacting AT&T because you had a case open with us for roaming charges in Bethel, Alaska on your July bill. I understand that some representative have advised you that you may have picked up a tower in Bethel, however, you are unable to locate a cell tower range of over 50 miles. You were advised three weeks ago that the charges would not be adjusted unless you went up to a higher price plan. You are now requesting that we adjust the charges as you have never been to Bethel, Alaska. My name is Carmen Rough and I am here to assist you with your concern. I am sorry to hear that you may wish to cancel service due to this issue.
I have reviewed your account and see that it was determined that the calls in question were valid. I see that you have an expired regional plan that did not cover calls made in Alaska. [Which is not true: the website and a customer service representative both told me, before I went, that I was covered in Alaska, particularly Anchorage. That's right: I called expressly to make sure I had coverage.] As such, you were billed at $.79 cents per minute for roaming.
If you would like to change your price plan to one of our current nation plans we would be more than happy to re-rate your bill as a courtesy as though you had been on the nation plan for the bill in question. With an AT&T nation plan, the entire domestic United States is included in your calling area in addition to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands therefore preventing domestic roaming and long distance charges while travelling to these places.
Below is the two price plan that is most comparable to the price plan you now have: [etc., etc., etc.]
This is total bullshit, and there's nothing I can do about it. Tell everyone you know to be very careful before getting their cell phones thru AT&T.