December 15, 2007 2:00 am

Foreign trip lands iPhone user with $2,100 bill

Apple's iPhone has been hailed as a category-killer in the mobile handset market. But as one influential US technology journalist recently found out,

this year's must-have gadget can also kill your bank balance when abroad - even if it barely leaves your pocket.

Chris Anderson, the editor-in-chief of Wired, the US technology magazine, has revealed he was hit with $2,100 in charges for using his iPhone on a recent foreign trip, thanks to a glitch that led him to be charged each time the mobile handset automatically refreshed his e-mail inbox.

Mr Anderson said he was travelling in China when he received a message from AT&T, Apple's US mobile partner, saying he should phone customer support to "prevent a costly bill".

It later emerged that he had run up more than $2,000 in charges even though his iPhone had remained in his pocket for most of the trip, according to Mr Anderson.

He said the bulk of the charges were due to the fact that his iPhone was set to check his e-mail account for new messages every 10 minutes. The Wired editor said that he receives "hundreds" of e-mails every day.

"This is a phone that I wasn't using," Mr Anderson said. "I was simply walking around with the phone in my pocket."

Mr Anderson said AT&T had offered to put him on a rate plan that would cut his bill to $300, but that the change had yet to go through. "They said they would call back but I haven't heard anything, even though they have two phone numbers for me," he said.

AT&T said it was not familiar with the details of Mr Anderson's case but added: "We have international plans for the iPhone so that people don't rack up costs like that."

The operator, which has exclusive rights to the iPhone in the US, said the company required customers to phone in before their iPhones can be activated for use abroad. AT&T said that it frequently negotiated with foreign carriers to lower roaming costs.

AT&T also added that users "can very easily turn data roaming off with the flick of a switch" on the iPhone. This includes the e-mail feature.

Apple could not be reached for comment. undercover/

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