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UK consumer group calls for stronger consumer protections around data roaming

UK mobile operators should be forced to make their rules around data roaming in the EU clearer, consumer group MoneySavingExpert has said. Martin Lewis, founder, has also called on telecoms regulator Ofcom and the Government to tighten the rules after some post-Brexit consumer protections expired. data roaming consumer protections

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Due to the end of legal obligations that expired after a post-Brexit grace period on 30 June, firms no longer have to send a text message with pricing details when consumers start roaming; operate on a monthly cap on data roaming fees; or provide protections against inadvertent roaming.

Some of the UK’s biggest networks have reintroduced data roaming charges in Europe after the UK left the EU, despite previously vowing not to do so.

Data roaming starts when your phone disconnects from your carrier’s network and connects to another. Roaming allows you to do what you can normally do under your network – make calls, send text, and use wireless data – when you’re out of your usual boundaries, such as a different country.

Mr Lewis said the mobile operators could not be trusted to self-regulate, noting that some operators had promised to not reintroduce roaming fees post-Brexit but had now done so.

He said: “I’ve no faith in mobile firms to self-regulate. When we left the EU, they promised not to reintroduce European roaming charges… yet most of the big networks have broken that promise.”

“Our report calls on Ofcom to not trust voluntary promises – we need to reintroduce the formal, compulsory consumer protections.”

MSE’s report has also highlighted that different providers use varying definitions of a ‘day’ for roaming passes, causing confusion and a higher risk of unexpected costs.

While some operators define a “day” of roaming as 24 hours from the first use, others define it as anything up to 11.59pm UK the same day.

This means, the consumer group claims, that if a customer pays a one-day roaming fee, at 11.58pm, they could only get a minute’s worth of data before needing to pay again.

Mr Lewis adds: “We need to ban daily roaming fee charged for use ‘up to 11.59pm’ without even mentioning in which time zone.”

“Instead, we recommend all providers must define a roaming ‘day’ as a 25-hour period from first use, clearly explain that in the arrival text, and alert the customers at least an hour before the daily charges end.”

This comes as holidaymakers are not only feeling the financial pressure at home with rising energy bills – the perils of which Mr Lewis has been warning – but also pressure abroad.

Nearly a third of Britons unaware that their network operator had reinstated roaming charges in Europe data roaming consumer protections

According to new research by O2 – one of the few major networks yet to bring back roaming fees – 59 per cent of Britons are worried about being charged roaming fees while they are on holiday this year, while almost a third of Britons didn’t realise their network provider has reintroduced roaming fees in Europe.

Gareth Turpin, chief commercial officer at Virgin Media O2 said: “As a nation, we’re more excited than ever to jet away and enjoy the sun, especially after the past two years. data roaming consumer protections

“However, travel inevitably causes some stress, whether it’s dealing with Covid admin, the risks of cancelled flights, and now trying to keep within budget during a cost-of-living crisis.”

Mr Lewis said the companies could not be trusted to regulate themselves and called on the government and regulators to step in.

“I’ve no faith in mobile firms to self-regulate,” he said. “When we left the EU, they promised not to reintroduce European roaming charges … yet most of the big networks have broken that promise.

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