Saturday 24 February 2018

How can I cut the cost of using my mobile in Spain?

Q I used my mobile phone when holidaying in Spain a few years ago and was hit with a massive bill when I came home. I'm planning to holiday in Spain again this summer and would like to use my mobile to make and receive phone calls – as long as I don't pay through the nose again. Will I get hit with high mobile phone charges again if I make and receive calls abroad – and is there anything I can do to keep the cost down? Emma, Naas, Co Kildare

AUsing your phone abroad can be expensive and the exact charges will depend on how much you use it. The charges you pay when you use your mobile abroad are known as "roaming" charges. In 2007, the EU introduced a cap on roaming charges which paved the way for cheaper rates within Europe.

Since July 2013, the most you can be charged for making a call while roaming in the EU is 24c per minute – plus Vat. The most you can be charged for receiving a call is 7c (plus Vat) per minute and text messages should cost no more than 8c (plus Vat). The most you can be charged for data roaming – where you surf the internet on your mobile abroad – is 45c per MB, plus Vat. Once you clock up €50 of data roaming charges, you will be asked to confirm that you wish to continue. Some operators may be cheaper.

Once you reach your destination, your phone will most likely connect to a network automatically but this may not necessarily be the cheapest one for you. Before you travel, contact your mobile phone provider or the Commission for Communications Regulation (www.comreg.ie) and check what network would be best for you to roam on. Earlier this month, the European Parliament voted to abolish roaming charges across the EU from December 2015 – so if this goes ahead, by the time your 2016 holiday comes up, it should be cheaper to use your mobile.

QI bought a camera through an online auction website last week – but when it arrived in the post, the camera was faulty. When I got in touch with the website, it said I am not entitled to a refund or replacement. Is there anything I can do to get my money back? I spent several hundred on the camera. Paul, Smithfield, Dublin 7

AUnder EU law, if you buy something, it must be fit for purpose. If the camera is faulty, it cannot be deemed fit for purpose and you are entitled to redress. The seller must first offer a repair or replacement, free of charge, within a reasonable time. If a repair or replacement is not possible or unsatisfactory, the consumer may then rescind the contract and get a full refund.

Consumer legislation only covers business-to-consumer transactions however. In other words, if you purchased the camera via an auction site but from a private individual, these rules will not apply. In that situation, it is advisable to contact the auction site. Depending on your method of payment, you may also wish to consider opening a dispute with Paypal or contacting your bank or card provider with a chargeback request.

In either case, you should first put your complaint in writing and keep a copy of this correspondence. If the seller does not respond within 10 working days or if they refuse to deal with your complaint, you can contact ECC Ireland (where the seller is based in another European country) or the National Consumer Agency (where the seller is based in Ireland) for assistance.

Grace Duffy is dispute resolution adviser and case handler with the consumer watchdog, ECC Ireland (www.eccireland.ie)

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