Subscribers are now so terrified of being stung by their mobile operator that they are switching their phones off altogether when abroad, says a new study. The mistrust is likely to get worse, it says, because most operators predict that LTE will only exacerbate the current bill shock problem.
Today 90 per cent of phone users have beecome ‘silent roamers’ according to the Roaming Bill Shock Research report. This could not only lead to lost income while subscribers are off line, but may also lead to defections. Many subscribers, driven off line by their fears of inflated bills and their confusion about how to avoid them, become tempted to use rival services which offer cheap local calls in the country they are visiting. This could lead to greater numbers of defections, according to the report.
The problem is likely to get worse, according to the report authors, because their study shows that 86 per cent of mobile operators think that billing and service issues will only be more complicated with the onset of new technologies such as LTE.
The report was jointly compiled by UK based consultancy Rocco and Finland based roaming specialist Uros. Between September and October 2015 they interviewed a sample of 114 mobile operators in 83 countries, with a collective base of 2.5 billion subscribers.
The investigation into the impact of bill shock found that it has changed customer behaviour and made it more difficult for operators to win back customers.
Even though regulation has created some transparency and devices manufactures have helped subscribers manage their roaming, the atmosphere of mistrust has set in, according to Gerrit Jan Konijnenberg CEO of Uros. Customer churn and long term reputational damage are problems that operators will have to continue to address, said Konijnenberg.
More needs to be done by industry bodies, operators, device manufacturers and subscribers, according to the report authors. The study also examines the strategies of operators to address bill shock. “The time to act is now,” said Konijnenberg.