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Beware of 75 cents text message notifications overseas

I'm a participant level 2
I'm a participant level 2

My 2 children and I took a last minute vacation to Cayo Coco, Cuba over the New Year's period. My wife remained in Ottawa as she had to work.

When we landed in Cuba, my 15 year old daughter received a text message notification from FIDO indicating that there was no roaming services available in Cuba, however, if one wanted to they could call or use text messages. It listed the different fees for voice versus text with each sms text message costing 75 cents.

As a result, my wife and daughter exchanged texts back and forth, and since it was 75 cents a text they sent longer text messages to each other. My daughter also sent a few text messages to her friends.

When we returned home, and later received our FIDO bill, we were shocked at receiving a bill for $111.00 EXTRA dollars due to 148 text messages! My daughter and wife only exchanged 25 text messages between them (we counted), and another 7 to her friends, and FIDO falsely claimed there were 148 text messages!! Of course, the FIDO bill had no detailed biling of each text message exchanged. I quickly called FIDO and the customer service person I dealt with was not polite or helpful at all. After 50 minutes of dealing with this,I learned that FIDO misleads their loyal customers as it's not 75/C text as they indicated, but a limit of only 140-160 characters are allowed per text. And the rude employee stated that I should know that! Also he informed me that in order to view the detailed text billing, I would have to attend a FIDO store. I told him I was very unhappy over this negative experience and would be cancelling my service with FIDO.

The next day, I attended a local FIDO store only to be told that obtaining a detailed text billing WASN'T possible. The clerk there was very personable, and she called customer service for me and I spoke with a female employee. This employee told me that ONE text message that my daughter sent counted as 18 text messages! This time, I was offered a measly credit of $25.00 which I refused. The employee then left me on hold for another 10 minutes with no feedback at all, and after 35 total wasted minutes on the phone I had to leave the store to pick up my son from his activity. So another waste of time.

Two days later, I contacted FIDO again, and spoke to a pleasant and understanding woman called Francis. She stated the same that it was 140-160 characters per text (depending on the carrier in the area), and she checked on the text message FIDO had sent my daughter when we arrived in Cuba and it CLEARLY stated that it was 75/c a text. She was the only person at FIDO that was concerned at my experience, and subsequently offered to remove $60.00 from my bill. This was a very reasonable and appeciated gesture on her part, and I thanked her for that.

I am still contemplating lodging a complaint against FIDO to the CRTC for the way they mislead and overcharge customers.

As well I am going to switch to another carrier, as FIDO has lost my business over this scam.

Paul M



Senior MVP Senior MVP
Senior MVP

Hello PM11,


  Welcome to the community!


  I'm sorry to hear you received that awful surprise when you returned from vacation. However, it's important to note that the issue isn't with Fido. The same would have happened with any of the mobile providers since they all send text messages as short message service or SMS.


  The SMS or texting protocol is strictly limited to 140 bytes. The number of characters to which that relates depends on the character set used. I have previously written explanations here and here. So if emojis were used, the number of characters per SMS message is 70.


@PM11 wrote:...It listed the different fees for voice versus text with each sms text message costing 75 cents.

As a result, my wife and daughter exchanged texts back and forth, and since it was 75 cents a text they sent longer text messages to each other....

  I understand the message you received said 75¢ per text. That means per SMS, not per message. Most phones send long-SMS as multiple SMS. While some phones might send long-SMS as a data message (similar to iMessages), it would then have been sent as multimedia messaging service (MMS) and therefore considered roaming data.


 It's unfortunate you (and your family) were not aware of the limits of the texting protocol. However, it's the way text messages are sent worldwide.


Hope this helps Smiley




Hello again,


  I neglected to include this in my previous post...


 Many people do not realise that how text messages (ie how many or as MMS) are sent is determined by our phones and that information is usually provided even before we press send. The mobile providers merely relay what our phones send.


  In the messaging app settings, there is usually a option to choose Input Mode: GSM alphabet (7-bit), Unicode (16-bit) or automatic. **edit** Some phones may also have UFT-8 (8-bit)**




  My Input mode is set to automatic. Note the set of numbers in the bottom right corner of each panel. The first number is the available characters remaining, and the second number is the number of SMS required. In this case, the Input mode is first GSM alphabet. As I type Hello , the remaining characters decreases accordingly. However, notice what happens when I enter an emoji. The remaing characters went from 154 to 62. That's because the Input mode switched to Unicode. As I exceed the allowable number of 16-bit characters for one SMS, the app informs that 2 SMS would be required to send that message.


  Different messaging apps might provide that information differently, but there usually is a character/SMS count somewhere.


Hope this helps Smiley



Former Moderator
Former Moderator

Hey @PM11,


Welcome to the Community! You're at the right place for help Smiley


Thank you for sharing your concerns in details with us, it's truly appreciated! We're sincerely sorry for your poor experience, we'd love to have a chance to look into this with you.


I'll send you a PM and we'll have a closer look at this! Talk to you soon.