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What To Do When You Notice an Unusually High AWS Bill

aarzoonaeem profile image Aarzoo Naeem Originally published at billgist.com Updated on ・4 min read

You started using AWS for its free trial, and it has a ‘pay as you go’, easy billing option.
However, is it as simple as it sounds? While AWS states you are paying for what you use, many users disagree.

AWS billing may include instances and jobs you ‘forgot’ to turn off. AWS bills can be complicated and surprisingly high. These problems are infrequent, but they arise and can come as a shock to many.

AWS is one of the best cloud computing solutions out there. However, a few honest mistakes may make it expensive for users. You may end up overspending and blowing up your budget if you are not careful. Start-up companies or companies working on a tight budget need to be cautious of every cent they spend and can not afford any missteps on AWS.

I have listed here a few examples of the most common billing complaint that AWS users have had and discuss the reasons behind them:

  1. Users received a shockingly high bill, and some claimed that their bill was literally doubled or even tripled overnight. Some users even received a bill in thousands of dollars, whereas their usual bill was as low as $1 for months. Why did this happen? This was a chaotic mess on AWS’s side and was resolved by their support team by refunding the wrongfully deducted amount. However, it caused quite a frenzy among AWS users everywhere.

  2. Users have received hefty bills without exceeding the AWS free tier limit. For example, a user was shocked because he was using the Free Tier only and had not exceeded the usage. This can happen when the user forgets to turn off instances, assuming that it will turn off automatically or a notification will be sent when its time is up. It is not automated, and one has to terminate instances; otherwise, you will be charged! However, AWS users claimed they received high bills even after terminating instances.

  3. AWS is one of the most reliable and cost-effective cloud computing services. However, it’s easy to blow through your budget via an account compromise.A Redditt user was charged $1,300, although he had been paying $0.00 for two years. Another user leaked AWS credentials accidentally on GitHub resulting in an outrageous bill relative to their regular usage.

Contact AWS Customer Support

If you receive an unusually high bill contact AWS Support first. Amazon has a fabulous customer support system that responds instantly and ensures they take your issues seriously. There are several ways to contact AWS customer support. Their support page has a range of support options that a user might need, like billing or account, technical, compliance support, and so on.

AWS support does not have a direct phone number for security reasons, however, you can contact AWS Support by following these steps:

  1. Sign in to your AWS account using your AWS login credentials.
  2. Open the AWS Support Console and from the options on the left side of the page select Create Case
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  3. Select the type of case from the options given ( Account and billing support, service limit increase, or technical support).

  4. Then choose the service and category the issue fits in to. Next, select the severity of the issue so you can be contacted accordingly. This is a screenshot of the ‘Create Case’ page from the AWS Support Console:
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  5. In the next step, describe the issue in detail and select how you want to be contacted by the support team. There are 3 options to choose from
    (i) The web option’s response time is up to 24 hours and the response is received in the Support Center. You can respond back if the issue is unresolved.
    (ii) Chat with an online representative. This option is useful for those whose accounts have not been fully activated.
    (iii) In the phone option, you must provide a phone number to receive a call from an AWS support representative as soon as the case is created.
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Amazon has an FAQ page dedicated to unexpected billing charges. We have noticed that their customer support personnel also frequent forums on social media and websites to check if any pending complaints. They are quick to refund any amount that has been wrongfully charged or an error in the bill. Amazon overlooks genuine cases and honest mistakes made by users and promptly refunds them. In case there is an oversight at the user’s end, they guide you in breaking down the bill to help you understand why your bill was so high.

AWS billing can be complicated. There are many other ways you may be charged for. We have discussed these issues in this article. It is better to be safe than sorry and keep yourself updated about AWS charges and common billing mistakes. Keeping track of your AWS billing and following the guidelines given above can help you avoid unexpected AWS charges and bills.

Screenshot images courtesy of (https://docs.aws.amazon.com/) (https://docs.amazonaws.cn/en_us/awssupport/latest/user/case-management.html)

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