We just got back from a 10 day break in Menorca, Spain, at a "5 star" all-inclusive resort. You can probably imagine that, as there are five of us and it was half term, this didn't come cheap. Which makes it all the more annoying when an expensive holiday gradually becomes more and more expensive due to the extra hidden costs associated with travel today. Of which there are many.
The most annoying additional cost came in the form of "data roaming" charges. Annoying because I was well aware of the pitfalls of using a smartphone in Europe and had made sure Karen knew not to enable roaming on her iPhone and I only enabled it twice a day on my S2 to download email before quickly disabling it again.
Both Karen and I are with Tesco mobile who charge 4GBP (~7USD) per MB. Criminal, I know. When we first arrived in Punta Prima (a tiny holiday resort on a small Spanish holiday island) I was half expecting no data connection at all, but was pleasantly surprised to see a H+ icon meaning I had 4G speeds!
For the first 5 days I kept the total usage below 1Mb. Then, on the sixth day, Android decided to check for updates to my installed apps and then started downloading them. Luckily I noticed the arrow icon that meant it was doing this and quickly turned off data roaming. Not before it had downloaded half of a 20MB update though! Even though I acted quickly the fact the resort was covered by 4G meant I'd already been stung.
Before re-enabling data roaming I made sure that in Google Play (formally Google Market) I had disabled auto-updating apps and made sure updating "via Wi-Fi only" was enabled. Assuming I was then safe I turned on data roaming. Only to find it continued to update more apps. This happened a few other times until I stopped trying (20MB later) and opted to buy 24hr of wi-fi from the resort's reception to let it continue all the app updates that way.
It seems to me that once Android knows there are updates it ignores subsequent changes to the how and when you want updates to happen until it next checks and there's nothing you can do to stop the ones it knows about.
Normally you could simply use Google Play to see a list of Installed apps that have updates available and you can could simply remove them. But - without an internet connection, Play doesn't work at all, as you can see below. Very annoying.
A day after all this happened and Tesco send an SMS to tell me my account is disabled. I then had no phone at all. Not even the ability to SMS or call!! Needless to say that's not good.
Now I'm home and logged on to my Tesco mobile account I see I racked up 134GBP in charges. Although they're limiting it to 40GBP as per the EU opt-in legislation. Or at least I hope they are. I'd ring and ask but it's under Karen's name and they won't talk to me without her consent and she's at work. It's all a massive PITA.
So who gets what cut of the 4GBP for each MB? Tesco or MoviStar? Let's assume most goes to the local provider -- MoviStar. This would explain the oddity of having super-fast data-connectivity in a holiday resort, would it not? It's in their interest to cover holiday resorts with 4G connections! The more data that the unsuspecting holiday makers can use while away the more money they make.
What I'm most annoyed with is the Android OS though!
Seriously, Android, you know that I'm roaming, you know it expensive (you told me so yourself) so why the hell would you update my apps? No, come on, really!?
If I'd been stung for 130 quid because of essential business access for emailing customers I could bring myself to terms with that. But all I have to show for the massive great bill is a few updated apps. In other words nothing at all.
If you going away this summer and have an Android phone. Be aware! Although on July 1st new EU laws cap the per MB cost at 0.7EUR!