Posts Tagged ‘roaming charges’
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that downloading stuff abroad is likely to incur roaming charges. However, it seems you need to be cleverer than a maths teacher, after a Warwickshire woman failed to calculate that an £8.99 album would cost over £2,600 once roaming charges were added.
Teacher Katie Bryan, 43, was visiting her boyfriend’s family in South Africa when she decided to download a multiple-track “best of Neil Diamond” CD from iTunes to her phone for £8.99. When she returned to the UK, she was dismayed to find that, not only did she still have a Neil Diamond album on her phone, her bank account was more than £2,000 overdrawn after Orange took a direct debit of £2,609.31.
No-one, not even Miss Bryan herself, can explain what possessed her. She admits to having had “a bit” of wine, but claims it was “not too much”, thereby scotching the drunk-and-didn’t-know-what-I-was-doing excuse. She can’t even claim the moral high ground on musical taste despite describing herself as “really not that big a Neil Diamond fan”, after admitting to not only owning a Neil Diamond cd in the UK, but actually having it in her car, as well as claiming to be “more of a James Blunt fan”.
Upon her return to the UK, Miss Bryan called Orange, who laughed at her were initially unable to help her, reiterating the published tariffs which meant her 20 minute download, which used 326 MB of data, had been charged at £8 per megabyte once her 10MB monthly foreign allowance had been used up. Nevertheless an enterprising employee then came up with the solution of selling her a backdated bundle which would bring the data cost down to a still-scandalous £400.
Unfortunately, the powers that be at Orange tried to rescind the offer, entitled as they rightly were to the full £2,600, but last Friday the executive office agreed to the £400 compromise, refunding the hapless teacher £2,209.31. Orange also apologised for the stress they had caused. Presumably adhering to the customer service school of the customer is always right, even when they are an idiot.
Miss Bryant said: “I think Orange are preying on people who make a mistake while abroad. Why such a massive difference in cost? In England you would just pay the album price. There is no way this huge bill relates to the actual cost to Orange.” Grossly inflated roaming costs are currently under investigation by the European Commission within the EU, but this would not have helped someone holidaying in South Africa. Besides, no phone company ever claimed that roaming costs bore any resemblance to the costs incurred.
Miss Bryant continued bleating: “You hear of people doing this and you think ‘stupid person – why did you do that?’ I do feel foolish.” No-one, anywhere, argued with her.
“But I also feel it is morally wrong to be expected to pay this sort of money for a Neil Diamond album” she finished. Now there’s something we can agree with.
The chief exec at EE is irritated by roaming charges and thinks the whole thing is “completely outdated” and that the EU is wrong to have them, meaning that Europe is falling behind everyone else, technologically speaking.
Olaf Swantee wants to get rid of charges for incoming calls in other EU countries by July this year and abolish all roaming charges by 2016.
“I believe that the enormous focus on just roaming charges is wrong. It is completely outdated. Clearly the industry, and I count myself in that, has had big issues in this space in the past, but nowadays it is much, much better,” Swantee said.
“The European authorities should be more concerned about the fact that Europe used to lead mobile telecommunications in terms of networks and new technologies, but now they are trailing Asia and the US. That has an impact on jobs and innovation, which is very important.”
You may have noticed how far behind we all are with the 4G rollout. In North American, upward of 25% of devices are on the 4G network. In Europe, it is as little as 2%. In the UK, EE’s 4G network was described as “poor, but fast” according to independent research. Altogether, it is a poor show seeing as Europe was ahead of the game when it came to 3G.
We told you about Vodafone’s roaming deal the other day, and now Three have launched their offer in a bid to end outrageous bills that everyone gets after travelling around Europe.
Three’s new fixed-price Euro Internet Pass allows pay-monthly customers to browse the web and all that for £5 per day whilst they travel abroad. The offer is not currently being offered to PAYG customers.
This £5 per day option is opt-in and available now ahead of the peak holiday season. Not that you can afford a holiday this year. The thought’s there though.
“No more hunting for internet cafés, no more searching for Wi-Fi hotspots. The Euro Internet Pass gives you the benefits of the internet, without any of the hassle,” an office Three spokesperson said. They added: “Our brand new Euro Internet Pass is designed to let you browse, tweet, update and upload for just a fiver a day.”
So what do you make of all this? Does it sound like a good deal or will you be going on holiday to switch your phone off so you don’t have all that social networking admin that needs doing the second you open your eyes?
Going on holiday this summer? Lucky sod. You’re obviously made of money. Either way, you’re set to make some savings this year because roaming charges are going to be cheaper from July in the EU.
Bill caps will come into play on July 1st, which basically means that if you’re travelling to Europe with a smartphone, you’ll have cheaper internet access. The EU reckon that the typical family “at least” €200 (£160) or, if you’re a typical businessman, the EU predict you’ll save around €1,000 (£800) a year.
From summer, telcos will only be allowed to charge 70 cents (56p) per megabyte of data, plus VAT. In 2009, the charges were six times that amount, so this is a big deal. There’ll be further cuts and by 2014, the maximum cost of downloading data will be cheaper by 20 cents per megabyte.
Neelie Kroes, Vice-President at the European Commission, said that with these price caps, the EC had “created a roaming market for the smartphone generation. More than that, we have ended to rip-offs familiar to anyone who has used a mobile phone while traveling abroad.”
He added that consumers will be able to choose a “separate roaming provider” when they travel. “If you can find a better offer compared to your standard contract you’ll be able to do it in a few simple swipes, just like when you choose a wi-fi network.”
As of July this year, mobile phone firms will be forced to lower the prices of making a call or downloading data abroad under new rules agreed by the European Parliament.
From then, we will pay no more than 24p per minute to make a call and 59p per megabyte for data downloads across Europe as the EU bids to stop consumers getting nasty bill-shaped surprises after falling foul of ludicrously high roaming charges.
“Consumers are fed up with being ripped off,” said commissioner Neelie Kroes, who added: “The new roaming deal gives us a long-term structural solution with lower prices, more choice and a new smart approach for data and internet browsing.”
At the moment, the limit on what can be charged for making a call is around 30p and sending a text 9p. However, there’s no cap on what companies can charge per megabyte of data. That’s where people are getting stung. And as of July 2014, we’ll all now be able to shop around for the best deal and sign up for a separate mobile contract using their existing number when going abroad. With the whole of Europe competing with each other, expect prices to gradually fall.
In addition to all this, from this summer, we’ll also get a text, email or pop-up, warning us when we get to 50 euros/£41 worth of data downloads.
Roaming charges are something of a hot-topic at the moment, despite the fact everyone’s too broke to go on holiday. Anyway, the cost is too high because of the stranglehold that major mobile operators have on wholesale data, according to Three speaking in an EU sub-committee hearing at the House of Lords.
For the record, everyone in the House of Lords still has their keytones on, bless ‘em.
Basically, in order for someone like Three to allow their customers to roam on other networks outside of the UK, they need to negotiate with other operators based on the volumes of roaming data it requires. So it might get a good rate in one market and not in another.
“This means that the retail price we are offering to consumers is too high because we need to set it at a level where we are not making a loss with any of the networks we are roaming onto,” says Julie Minns, Head of Public Policy and Corporate Responsibility, Three UK. “We don’t think these charges can be justified.
“We might be able to negotiate a reasonable rate in Spain, but not in other countries. Our consumers would prefer to have a European rate, not just an individual country rate.”
Probably better to actually ask the customers first though, eh? If they’re getting a good deal in Spain, but not one in Albania where they’re unlikely to holiday, then surely they’d take a country-by-country rate?
Either way, this is all following a vote by the European Parliament to try and cap roaming charges. Under the new measures, mobile companies will have to allow users switch provider when abroad.
Bob Warner, Chair, Communications Consumer Panel, agreed that; “rates have been too high for too long. Data prices are still much too high. They probably undercharge for data in the UK and overcharge abroad. You get used to having data at very low rates in the UK and so develop certain usage habits and then go abroad and get bill shock.”
Meanwhile, Robyn Durie, director of regulatory affairs from Everything Everywhere, disagreed, saying that roaming charges were not too high: “We would like to see more competition in the market rather than price caps. Competition is far more effective than price caps in bringing prices down.”
You there! You’ve been paying TOO MUCH MONEY FOR THINGS! You knew that, so it’s scarcely news. However, the European Commission have noticed too, with regard to data roaming charges. This means they’ll be having a crackdown on “outrageous” charges for using the internet when travelling in the EU.
Even though the Commission have only just declared a bunch of cuts in mobile roaming charges, Brussels have decided to up the ante against network operators. The want further cuts.
Basically, the Commission want consumers to pay less than the current £2 per megabyte average when downloading abroad on another mobile group’s network (in some instances, it can be as high as £10.70).
So what does that mean? Well, by MEPs and EU sorts have agreed that the maximum operators should be able to charge (from July 1 next year) will be 80p per megabyte, with a further fall in price from July 2014 to 45p per megabyte.
There’s also talk that consumers will be able to opt for cheaper mobile roaming contracts which are separate from their national mobile contract while using the same phone number and SIM card, which is encouraging indeed.
EU Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes, says: “This proposal tackles the root cause of the problem – the lack of competition on roaming markets – by giving customers more choice and by giving alternative operators easier access to the roaming market. It would also bring down prices for data roaming, where operators currently enjoy outrageous profit margins.”
Meddling consumers’ association Which! have been throwing their collective arms up in despair and warning that, if you’re staggeringly dim, you could easily run up an enormous bill on your smartphone is you keep using it when you’re abroad.
This all comes about because, by July 1st, new rules will be enforced in the EU which will cap bills for downloading data.
[Cues up sinister music]
Until then, no person travelling in Europe is safe. Innocent iPhone users and people holding a Nexus One or Nokia could be idly tip-tapping away, completely oblivious to the peril that awaits their return… an unlimited bill!
So, let’s say you’re away on your jollies or working abroad and you’re absolutely determined to make everyone you know on Facebook want to unfriend you because of your relentless updates about beautiful sunsets, sunburn, friendly waiters and hideous pictures of your toothless children in shit hats enjoying an ice-cream on the beach, you may well assume that the bill won’t need checking because at home, you have unlimited downloads.
Right? Of course, that’s presuming you’re stupid enough to repeatedly ignore the constant roaming messages and the like sent to you by your phone operator and all that. Presuming that you’re such a dribbling simpleton that, like one fella, got charged £41,000 after downloading a television programme onto his phone.
According to research by Which!, people using smartphones abroad can pay up to £8 for every megabyte downloaded. That’s the equivalent of one email with a photo attachment. They also reckon that a ten minute video clip and five music tracks could cost as much as £200.
Anyway, this could all stop as the new Dimwit Law is coming in which will see you protected by new rules to limit bills for data downloading. Basically, from the 1st July (this year) there will be a default limit of 50 euros (£45) a month.
Until then, it’s up to you to use your brain if you’ve got one.