As we’ve highlighted recently, telcos such as Maxis can charge as high as RM15/day if you answer just one phone call when you’re travelling overseas in selected countries. Apparently, there are also Maxis postpaid users who complained about being charged the RM15 per day for unlimited calls and SMS roaming pass even if they reject or ignore a call while roaming. To verify if the claims are true, we went to Singapore to find out.
Can you get charged for not answering voice calls while roaming?
Using a Maxis Postpaid 98 plan, we connect to Singtel’s network which is Maxis’ roaming partner in Singapore. We tried several scenarios including ignoring voice calls while roaming. So far, we didn’t get any pass activated when we didn’t answer incoming calls.
Next, we tried rejecting incoming phone calls while roaming. The receiver would have received a rejected tone when we end each incoming call. We tried this a number of times and we didn’t get any extra roaming charges from Maxis.
From our tests, we can conclude that Maxis does not charge you if you do not answer or reject an incoming call while roaming overseas. But what about if the incoming call goes into voicemail if you fail to pick up?
Calls diverted to voicemail while abroad are considered roaming
On the third attempt, we try to repeat the test but this time with voicemail turned on while we are still in Singapore. About 30 minutes after activating our voicemail, there was an incoming call from an unknown number which we didn’t pick it up. After the call stopped ringing, we got a message from Maxis saying “Yay! You have activated 1 day Unlimited Calls and SMS SGP pass. Enjoy free calls & SMS to local and to Malaysia. Valid till 14:20 16-09-2022 (time of the capital city). Call us at *123# (FOC) if you need any assistance.”
From the looks of it, voice calls that go to voicemail while roaming are subjected to roaming charges. In the case of Maxis postpaid, it will automatically activate the RM15 per day unlimited calls and SMS pass. This can be a huge problem if you constantly receive unwanted calls while travelling overseas. Imagine getting calls daily for 5 days which would have cost you RM75 (RM15 for call roaming pass x 5 days) if you still have voice mail turned on!
Not many are aware of this but turns out that all telcos do charge for call roaming if an incoming call is directed to voicemail when you’re using your mobile line outside of Malaysia. This is practised not just by Maxis but also Celcom, Digi and U Mobile. According to U Mobile, users will see two charges in their postpaid bill if a call is redirected to Voicemail while roaming. The first charge is for receiving a call in a foreign country (IDD from Malaysia to the foreign country) and the second charge is for forwarding the call to the voicemail in Malaysia (outgoing call from the foreign country to Malaysia). In fact, Digi even encourages its customers to disable voicemail before travelling abroad.
According to Consumer Forum of Malaysia (CFM), they have received 30 complaints about customers being charged for voicemail roaming services between 2012 to 2017, and we reckon there could be more who are not aware of these extra charges. To prevent unwanted spending, CFM encourages users to deactivate the voicemail service through the telco’s self-care apps or call their customer service hotline for further assistance.
How to disable voicemail on Celcom, Digi, Maxis and U Mobile?
Besides not turning on Data Roaming, you should always ensure that voicemail is turned off before travelling if you don’t want any extra surprise charges. Here’s how you can disable voicemail on the big four telcos:
Using the Maxis app (Apple App Store, Google Play Store, Huawei AppGallery), you can disable it by tapping on your postpaid account > Value Added Services > Untick “Dynamic Voice Mail & Missed Call Notification”. Then, tap on “apply” to save your settings.
For Celcom, their FAQ states that voicemail service deactivation can be done by calling their contact centre at 019 6011111.
On Digi, you can deactivate voicemail with the following steps:
Step 1: Dial *128#
Step 2: Click on “Digi Rewards & Services”.
Step 3: Click on “Voicemail”.
Step 4: Click on “Deactivate Voicemail”.
Step 5: Click on “Confirm”.
Step 1: Dial *128#
Step 2: Click on “My Account”.
Step 3: Click on “Account Setting”.
Step 4: Click on “Voicemail”.
Step 5: Click on “Deactivate Voicemail”.
Step 6: Click on “Confirm”.
Since it takes a while to reflect the changes, it is best to deactivate voicemail before you leave Malaysia. If you need assistance, you can call up your customer service to disable voicemail.
For U Mobile, their FAQ states that you can deactivate the voicemail service by contacting their customer service line at 018 338 1318.
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