MSE News: Beware mobile roaming charges in non-EU European countries

"Many holidaymakers aren't sure which countries are in the EU, leaving them facing hefty mobile phone bills..."
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Beware mobile roaming charges in non-EU European countries

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  • Roger1
    Roger1 Posts: 1,603 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Anniversary Combo Breaker First Post
    I normally don't use my UK mobile when abroad as generally the rates are excessive. I use PAYG SIMs. Some operators include Switzerland in their 'EU' rates, others don't.

    The good guys?
    • Toggle: 3p/min to call UK landlines and mobiles if you make sure you have their Swiss local number - using the UK number means 28p/min. Receiving calls in Switzerland aren't charged, it seems.
    The bad boys? Step forward:
    • Ovivo - 40p/min to call UK landlines and mobiles from Switzerland! And 20p/min to receive calls in Switzerland.
    I'd like a single SIM solution for travelling, especially in Switzerland, South Africa and the USA. I checked various SIMs from Ovivo, Toggle, Worldsim, White, Vectone and Giffgaff and found that none is best overall. To ensure maximum savings I would need to use different SIMs in different countries, something that does not appeal. And Toggle doesn't even offer service in South Africa.

    As recommended, I try to use wifi.
  • NFH
    NFH Posts: 4,373 Forumite
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    edited 29 May 2013 at 11:26AM
    I am an Orange UK customer and when I spent 4 days in Belarus with my iPhone last year, I got a local SIM card from MTS . I had a reasonable number of outgoing and incoming calls and text messages and also used a reasonable amount of data. Despite being prepaid, MTS gave me a fully itemised bill, which listed all the data I used as well as every outgoing and incoming call and text. The total bill over 4 days cost me £1.56. I imported the bill into Excel and calculated how much the same usage would have cost using an Orange UK SIM card. It would have been a whopping £1,237.38. I urge everyone to use local SIM cards, particularly when travelling outside the EEA.

    Just some points of correction in the above article:
    • Regulation (EU) No 531/2012 covers not only the EU but the whole of the European Economic Area (EEA), which comprises the EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
    • Many (but not all) UK networks apply the EU price caps to non-EEA countries and territories that are surrounded by the EEA, for example Switzerland and Andorra, as well as non-EEA territories closed connected with EEA countries such as the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.
    • Croatia is due to become a member of the EU on 1st July 2013.
    • Switching off 3G will not prevent data roaming; it will merely restrict the speed of the data to 2G. To prevent data roaming, you need to switch off data roaming.
    I believe that networks should be forced to quote data roaming charges per gigabyte in order to highlight the magnitude of the charges. Orange's non-EEA data roaming charge is £8,000/GB vs £10/GB in the UK. Quoting data prices per megabyte is akin to quoting voice calls as a charge for one second instead of for one minute; it disguises the high charge.
  • Bob_the_Saver
    Bob_the_Saver Posts: 5,610 Forumite
    CAUTION

    Not all operators seem to know where the EU starts and finishes

    Asda Mobile for instance. Calls from Reunion (Part of France & EU obviously)

    Cost p/min for calling the UK and any other EU country: 140p
    Cost p/min for receiving a call: 140p
    Cost p/min for calling another non-EU country: 140p
    SMS p/message: 40p
    Minimum charge 1min
    Data per MB

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overseas_department
  • NFH
    NFH Posts: 4,373 Forumite
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    edited 30 May 2013 at 2:27PM
    Well spotted Bob the Saver. Likewise Talk Mobile is a rip-off and is blatantly breaching Regulation (EU) No 531/2012 , which applies throughout the European Economic Area . According to Talk Mobile's prices , they charge £7.50/MB for data (13 times the price cap of £0.58/MB) in the following EEA countries and territories:
    • Norway (EEA, non-EU)
    • Iceland (EEA, non-EU)
    • Liechtenstein (EEA, non-EU)
    • Reunion (an integral part of France and the EU)
    • French Guiana (an integral part of France and the EU)
    • Guadeloupe (an integral part of France and the EU)
    • Martinique (an integral part of France and the EU)
    • Canary Islands (an integral part of Spain and the EU)
    • Gibraltar (a special member state territory of the EU)
    All these places are outside the EU VAT area so no VAT is chargeable when roaming there in accordance with Article 19 of the Value Added Tax (Place of Supply of Services) Order 1992 . The mainstream UK networks charge no more than the price cap of 58p/MB (€0.70 x 0.8293) for data roaming in these places. Why does Talk Mobile think it is entitled to flout the law by breaching the cap?
  • zerog
    zerog Posts: 2,478 Forumite
    Croatia will be in the EU soon enough, wonder whether mobile operators are preparing for this
  • NFH
    NFH Posts: 4,373 Forumite
    Photogenic Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary
    zerog wrote: »
    Croatia will be in the EU soon enough, wonder whether mobile operators are preparing for this
    Croatia's accession date coincides with the annual reduction in the EU price caps, so no doubt they'll comply.
  • killaypirate
    killaypirate Posts: 10 Forumite
    if on holiday then don't take the mobile. if you can't do without then buy a local sim card
  • SnowTiger
    SnowTiger Posts: 4,458 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper Photogenic First Post
    Oh, this is very confusing.

    In this thread we learned the data cap applied worldwide: http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=4598853.
  • NFH
    NFH Posts: 4,373 Forumite
    Photogenic Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary
    SnowTiger wrote: »
    Oh, this is very confusing.

    In this thread we learned the data cap applied worldwide: http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=4598853.
    Don't confuse the usage cap with the price cap. The usage cap cuts off your data after you have spent a specified monetary amount in one month. The price cap limits the amount per megabyte that the networks can charge you for data.
  • SnowTiger
    SnowTiger Posts: 4,458 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper Photogenic First Post
    NFH wrote: »
    Don't confuse the usage cap with the price cap. The usage cap cuts off your data after you have spent a specified monetary amount in one month. The price cap limits the amount per megabyte that the networks can charge you for data.

    http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-12-316_en.htm:
    Bill shock: better information when travelling outside the EU

    To help avoid "bill shock" from 1st July 2012, people travelling outside the EU will get a warning text message, email or pop-up window when they are nearing €50 of data downloads, or their pre-agreed level.

    Consumers will then have to confirm they are happy to go over this level in order to continue their data roaming.

    This extends the alert system currently in place within the EU.

    This does leave me confused. The mobile phone companies I use bill in MBytes not €. So isn't this a price cap?

    And grumbler highlight similar wording on OFCOM's website, http://consumers.ofcom.org.uk/2013/03/check-your-phone-before-you-roam/:
    All mobile operators have to apply a cut-off limit once you have used €50 (excluding VAT) – around £40 – of data per month, wherever you travel in the world unless you choose to opt out.
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