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Martin Lewis calls for more telco regulation over roaming charges

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“I’ve no faith in mobile firms to self-regulate” says MoneySavingExpert’s consumer champion Martin Lewis as he calls for more rules from Ofcom over roaming charges.

Martin Lewis, who has been busy laying into energy firms recently over soaring prices, has levelled his sights on the telecoms industry in a report which claims that new rules are needed to force operators to be clearer on roaming charges in the EU in the post-Brexit order.

A report published today with the title ‘The roaming risk: How lapsed protections could cost consumers’ asserts that consumers could be ‘caught out by unexpected roaming costs’ since post-Brexit EU protections have now ended and mobile providers ‘no longer need to warn users of roaming costs, provide a monthly cap on roaming fees, or offer protections against inadvertent roaming.’

The report also makes the point that there are some complications added when different providers use different definitions for a ‘day’ of roaming. Essentially the complaint is that if you buy a day of roaming at 11.59 at night it can sometimes expire in a minute since that’s the end of the day, as opposed to granting you 24 hours of service.

“I’ve no faith in mobile firms to self-regulate,” said Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com. “When we left the EU, they promised not to reintroduce European roaming charges… yet most of the big networks have broken that promise. So our report calls on Ofcom to not trust voluntary promises – we need to reintroduce the formal, compulsory consumer protections. And it’s time too, to define time.

“We need to ban a 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 24-hour period from first use, clearly explain that in the arrival text, and alert customers at least an hour before the daily charges end.”

VMO2 meanwhile gets a nod from the report for being the only major UK operator offering roaming at no extra cost.

The report contains recommendations for UK comms regulator Ofcom and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. An Ofcom spokesperson said: “Ofcom is currently considering the options for future roaming protections for customers, looking at the risk of consumer harm and how to best protect customers in this area. We will take these findings into account as part of this process.”

At a moment in time when its particularly bothersome and expensive to leave the UK for a holiday, it’s a fair point that being potentially stung for an overpayment on data roaming on top could certainly be frustrating. The recommendations to Ofcom sound reasonable enough on the surface, bit as with all regulation the devil is in the details, so we’ll have to see how Ofcom responds.

 

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