Press release:

Billshock Brits: quarter of mobile users wrongly believe it’s free to roam in the EU

From 30th April, the EC is introducing new mobile roaming caps that will further reduce the cost of using a mobile in the EU. But uSwitch warns that Brits are still at risk of higher bills.

Using a mobile phone in EU countries will cost Brits less from the end of this month[1], as the European Commission (EC) reduces mobile roaming charges further by introducing lower caps on charges for calls, texts and data. However, price comparison and switching service uSwitch.com says people still need to keep a close eye on the new charges to avoid getting caught out, as over a quarter (27%) incorrectly believe it does not cost extra to use a mobile in other EU countries[2].

The cost for Brits making and receiving calls in the EU has dropped substantially since 2007, with charges set to be abolished completely in June 2017. The new caps, introduced on the 30th April 2016, restrict mobile providers to charging a maximum of the domestic price plus €0.05 per minute for a call, €0.02 to send a text and €0.05 per MB of data used[1].

But despite falling roaming charges, more than six in 10 (62%) UK mobile customers are still afraid to use handsets in other EU countries for fear of bill shock when they return home[3] – and 34% don’t use mobile phones abroad full stop[4].

Commenting on the upcoming changes to EU mobile roaming caps, Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com, says: “Waiting until June 2017 for EU roaming to incur no additional cost is both frustrating and confusing for mobile users. But there is a silver lining – this should be the final price drop before roaming charges are abolished in the EU for good.

“These price drops are especially good news for any Brits planning a summer trip to the Continent – and football fans heading to France for the Euros, too ­– but until EU roaming charges are fully abolished consumers should still be aware of the pitfalls.

“For example, a £40 cap applied by networks and designed to protect mobile users from bill shock only covers charges for data, and not calls or text messages. Our research reveals that more than a quarter of mobile customers who know about the £40 cap are completely unaware of this[5].

“Although some networks are going above and beyond to make sure roaming is affordable, like Three’s Feel At Home and iD’s TakeAway plan, networks across the board could do more to reduce consumer vulnerability to additional charges.

“We’d like to see more transparency in the form of real-time updates on out of tariff charges and reminder notifications after users have opted out of automatic caps.

“Of course, the EC’s caps don’t protect anyone travelling outside the EU. This is where mobile networks need to focus their attentions next, as the fear of sky-high roaming bills further afield certainly isn’t an irrational one. More than one in ten (11%) customers who’ve been outside the EU in the past year have received a higher than normal bill – averaging £103[6].”

The table below shows how prices for mobile roaming in the EU have dropped since 2007 (excluding VAT):

Year 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014/ 2015 2016 2017
Date of price change 30th Aug 30th Aug 1st Jul 1st Jul 1st Jul 1st Jul 1st Jul 1st Jul 30th April 15th Jun
Call (per min) €0.49 €0.46 €0.43 €0.39 €0.35 €0.29 €0.24 €0.19 €0.05 €0.00
Incoming call (per min) €0.24 €0.22 €0.19 €0.15 €0.11 €0.08 €0.07 €0.05 €0.0114 €0.00
Text not regulated not regulated €0.11 €0.11 €0.11 €0.09 €0.08 €0.06 €0.02 €0.00
Data (per MB) not regulated not regulated not regulated not regulated not regulated €0.70 €0.45 €0.20 €0.05 €0.00

Source: uSwitch.com
Find out how you could save over £1,000 a year with uSwitch here.
uSwitch’s guide on how to avoid roaming charges can be found
here.

— ends —

Notes to editors

Unless otherwise stated, data is based on a uSwitch.com consumer survey of 2,171 UK mobile phone users via Censuswide. Responses were collected between 13/04/16 and 15/04/16.

  1. http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/travel/money-charges/mobile-roaming-costs/index_en.htm
  2. Respondents were asked: Do you think the following statement is true or false? ‘There are now no extra charges for people from the UK using their mobiles in other EU countries’. 27% responded true.
  3. Respondents were asked: How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statement? ‘I am afraid to use my mobile [in the EU] (except for emergencies) when travelling abroad to countries because of the risk of bill shock when I return’. 28% replied strongly agree, 34% replied agree.
  4. Respondents were asked: Do you use your mobile phone abroad? 34% replied no.
  5. Respondents who replied yes to ‘Are you aware that mobile networks cap international data usage at approximately £40 per month- both in the EU and in non-EU countries?’ were asked ‘Were you aware that this cap only includes data (mobile internet) and not calls and texts?’ 26% said no
  6. This data is based on a uSwitch.com consumer survey of 5,009 UK mobile phone users via Censuswide. Responses were collected between 04/12/2015 and 07/12/15. Respondents were asked: Have you ever come home from a holiday abroad [outside the EU] to find your bill is higher than usual? 11% said yes in the last 12 months. The mean amount was £103.35.

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