Roaming Therapy – Mobile Reform in The EU
Happily for consumers, or so it would appear, the EU is fast-tracking major reforms to mobile phone roaming charges. Good news if you decide to stay in luxury serviced apartments abroad. The idea is to standardise our call, data and text tariffs when we use our phones and devices across all EU countries. Leaving aside a robust and significant challenge to the changes led by Vodafone, the new system could be ratified and in place in time for the peak travel of the Summer season in 2014.
This should put an end to the shock horror stories of the terrifying mobile phone bills amounting on occasion to tens of thousands of pounds for unsuspecting travellers. But beware, because there are still more than enough ways to run up eye-watering charges in the meantime and even beyond the new proposals.
Firstly and most obviously there are non EU European countries like Switzerland and Turkey which are very popular destinations for business travellers and tourists alike. A UK customer of Orange recently faced a monthly bill in excess of £20,000 as a result of uploading her holiday photos to a Facebook account throughout her stay in Turkey. “Oooops” doesn’t really cover that sort of error, even if it does seem so blindingly obvious after the fact.
Until then and in some cases beyond this is still potentially perilous territory. These headline-making stories are rare of course but slide the scale down to bills of £800 or £900 and the tale is uncomfortable common. Downloading or streaming content like missed television programmes or music is something that we might do habitually at home. Safe in the knowledge and aware that our own wi-fi networks and data packages comfortable allow us to do so without worry.
Outside the EU though the BBC estimate that watching 60 minute programme through their iPlayer over a 3G network would cost somewhere between £400 and £1800! You could make a programme for less.
Of course there are fail-safes like text limit warnings and roaming packages but a note to anyone who might suspect that these pitfalls gather only the unitiated, credulous or just plain daft would ask this. Did you realise for example that the most up to date 3G and 4G smartphones and similar devices will automatically seek out internet connections to update apps wherever you may be? Of course you knew that.