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What’s the EU ever done for us?

By 29th June 2016No Comments

Whether an “inner” or an “outer”, you will probably have a different perspective on this question. What can’t be denied is that the EU has delivered benefits to the UK consumer regarding mobile phone roaming charges.

Over the past few years, plans have been put in place to reduce often exorbitant costs of communicating when visiting our European neighbours. The impact of these actions continues to be felt, with usage costs reducing significantly. The good news is that a couple of months ago usage charges fell by 70-75% – yippee I hear you cry!

But the mobile networks have been carefully planning ways to minimise the impact on these enforced price reductions. Vodafone, for example, over the past couple of years has been making its “EuroTraveller” option an automatic add on to most business contracts. Adopting the “EuroTraveller” option means that as soon as you use your phone abroad, you incur a £2.50 charge every day it is used in exchange for calls/texts/data being taken from your UK bundles. This offered good value for money when calls were at 13.75p/min, data at 14.5p/MB and text messages at 4.25p each, as it wouldn’t take much to get a payback. For example, just 5 mins of calls, 10MB of data and 10 texts and you would be quids in with EuroTraveller.

However, now that the costs have dropped (and are set to drop still further), it is well worth checking whether you are still getting value for money. With texts at 1.33p each, data at 3.6p/MB and calls at 3.6p/min, you can use your phone quite a lot before ending up with a daily bill of £2.50 – particularly with wifi so ubiquitous to help keep data away from the expensive mobile networks. One recent project showed that the client would have reduced their EU roaming charges by 80% if they had not been opted into EuroTraveller. Call me a cynic, but I suspect some of these pricing strategies have been as much about margin protection as they have been about delivering value to customers.

Don’t get me wrong, having certainty around roaming charges is a benefit in itself and can bring peace of mind against “bill shock”. But it might just be worth looking at your typical usage abroad and seeing if you would be better off removing certain roaming options to keep costs down, based upon your employees typical usage. This is particularly the case for light users who are concerned about incurring high costs – and may not be aware of the ins and outs of the company tariff. They are often simply aware that using the phone abroad is expensive and should therefore be minimised. At its extreme, receiving a single call would trigger the £2.50 charge, which would otherwise cost just 0.75p!

So no matter where you stand on the referendum, take a closer look at your mobile tariffs and decide whether you will be better off opting in or out!