The other day, I came across a situation that – to say the least – drove me crazy! First things first. I know my Android and iOS, and I am not one of these guys that forget some app “open”, and then nag about the 3GB that were charged for their 3G or 4G data plan. I purchased my first Android phone some time around December 2015, and everything went well, till some days ago.
Cosmote (GR), my carrier has made available an app that tracks data usage on your phone. I was having some connectivity issues to my Spotify account linked to that, so I removed it a month ago and forgot to re-install it. Around the 18th of April, I received an SMS with my last bill as well as a notification, saying that two days into the new billing cycle, I consumed 80% of my data plan. And there and then, decided to re-install the app, just to check my balance. When I opened it, it read, “The balance of your last bill is 299,89 euros“! 11 cents short of 300! What?
My bill listed 6GB of data used, (2GB from my free plan and another 4GB on top of that). And to be perfectly clear, I do not share my internet publicly, I do not download movies on my phone, neither I run speed tests etc., that consume data. On top of that, I am almost all day long, around Wifi networks (office and home) where my phone connects with no problem. So where did the 6GB of data came from? Don’t know yet.
I remained calm (as calm as someone can remain in such a situation) and I called Cosmote to explain my predicament. I have to say that the handling of my issue by the Cosmote customer care, was impeccable. They called back, offering to take care of the excessive data usage, from the current as well as the next bill. I have to admit that I wasn’t expecting such a pain-free resolution, but it happened and I was really happy about it too, although a bit reserved as to whether or not this promise would be kept once the next bill came. In any case, putting a pin on that, I looked some more into the issue and that’s where the fun began!
After receiving the crazy-high bill, I looked into the data consumption on my Android phone (Lenovo P70-A). Under 4G data, I found 14,6GB spent! 14GB! I scrolled down and discovered that 14,16GB went to Viber (see screen below), with almost all of them, in the background of the app. WOW! After researching a bit online, I found that the most data-intensive service of Viber is calls, with 14MB per hour! The odd thing, was that my data consumption spiked from April 10th, to April 20th, when I discovered the problem. And of course, I had all the necessary boxes ticked, to avoid high consumption (transferring images only over Wifi, etc.). The only thing I did not do, was set a limit for Viber data, as they were always around 20-30MB, so I didn’t think it was necessary.
I immediately addressed the people over at Viber (20/4 @ 15:00) and they also came back pretty fast (20/4 @15:53), asking about some clarifications, which I provided. I also send all the necessary screenshots from my phone and asked them if I can give them my formal permission to divulge my data usage for vider (from the anonymous data collected through the app). On 4/5, I received an answer that stated that the Viber people were trying to reproduce the matter on their end. And then, on 11/5 I received an e-mail about taking a survey after the resolution of my problem! When I contacted them, they said that they are still looking into my problem, so I guess the e-mail I got was some kind of automated reply after X days.
Taking a step back, looking at the numbers, even if by some glitch, my phone was making a call that was not interrupted for 10 days (have not made any calls during this timeframe, btw, only some missed ones), it would need, 14MB times 24 for a day, times 10 for the ten days, that’s 3.360MB, or 3,36GB. Not 14! And of course, while I was at home and office, it would consume some Wifi data and not drain (almost on purpose) only my data plan. So I am buffled about what happened on my phone during this time, as the data surely passed through it, as Cosmote verified. I hope to get an answer soon and share it. For the time being, I have no data left, and still using Viber, till I sort this thing out – I need screenshots and data, so I haven’t deleted the app yet.
Do you know anything about some similar incident? I mean, was I hacked? I know I am not that important to hack, but still. Why 14GB and why only over 4G? Why didn’t Wifi take over? The worst part is that if I haven’t discovered it quick enough, it would have drained 100GB? Maybe more. For now, I asked for a service that cuts off your data once you reach 100% of your monthly quota, so it should be OK.
UPDATE: The last bill from my carrier came in, totalling a staggering 760 euros for the period that I had the problem with the excessive data usage (10 days in total). Only 60 euros out of these are my fixed contract costs. The remaining 700 came from the excess of almost 12GB that were used. On 31/5, I was contacted by Viber support, with no definite answer as to what caused my problem. We have installed a log tracker to see if this thing comes up again, but I am not that optimistic as for the past month, everything have been running smoothly. The only thing left now, is to get the analysis from my carrier, share it with Viber as I promised already, and try to see what happened.
Disclaimer: All the above are a personal experience for which I have all the data to justify my claims. I am not sharing my experience to cause any problem to the companies involved, and I am only stating facts as they happened. If you have any problem with the text above, please contact me through my various social media accounts to report it.