Wednesday 15 August 2018

Holidaymakers landed with €700 bills amid confusion over using phones abroad

Calls and data use in destinations such as Asia, the US and Australia are expensive, with these areas not covered by EU roaming rules. Stock photo: PA
Calls and data use in destinations such as Asia, the US and Australia are expensive, with these areas not covered by EU roaming rules. Stock photo: PA
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

One in four consumers is being hit with huge mobile phone bills after being on holiday.

Some holidaymakers end up with bills as high as €700, despite European Union rules designed to ensure people are generally not charged more when they use their phones outside their home country.

Many people are confused about the rules - they do not realise countries such as Turkey are not in the EU, and others do not know an unlimited data allowance may not apply outside their home country.

Calls and data use in destinations such as Asia, the US and Australia are expensive, with these areas not covered by EU roaming rules.

A new survey for price comparison site Switcher.ie, carried out by iReach Insights, found a quarter of consumers had experienced a bill shock after coming home.

EU 'Roam Like at Home' rules are designed to protect mobile phone users when using their device inside the EU.

The rules were only introduced last year. Four out of 10 people mistakenly believe the EU roaming rules apply to all phone use all over Europe, or they wrongly think the rules will protect them anywhere overseas.

The roaming rules mean phone users should be charged the same for calls, texts and data use inside the EU as they are at home.

However, people who have an unlimited data allowance at home may find the operator is allowed to cap their use in another country inside the EU.

Roaming

The vast majority of people hit with high bills after their holidays ended up having to pay €200.

One in seven had bills between €200 and €500.

A minority ended up with a bill ranging from €550 to €700.

Most people admitted being in the dark about the EU roaming rules.

Managing director of Switcher.ie Eoin Clarke warned that leaving your data switched on in Europe can be expensive.

"If you're one of the many consumers heading away this summer, make sure you check charges for roaming before you jet off," he said.

"A quick call to your network can help you to make informed choices about your mobile use while you're away and avoid a nasty post-holiday bill."

He said those travelling within the EU needed to make sure they understood what 'Roam like at Home' means for them.

People who are phone talkers or texters should find the rules work out well for them.

"However, if you're a heavy data user, you'll need to be careful about how you use your data in the EU to avoid excess charges - try downloading content over wifi, rather than streaming, and turn off automatic updates for apps," Mr Clarke said.

In destinations like Asia, the US and Australia, charges for calls to home can be more than €3 per minute, while sending a single text costs up to 75c.

Accessing the internet via roaming costs between €5 and €10 per MB.

Irish Independent

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