Roaming across Europe

On 15 June 2017 roaming charges were scrapped across Europe thanks to EU legislation.  Whether that particular law is, or is not, “one of the greatest successes of the EU” as the EU Commission press release claimed is perhaps a matter for debate.  Nevertheless the legislation effectively puts an end to the roaming charges which in some cases gave rise to consumers facing substantial bills for uploading pictures to Facebook or downloading a film to watch on holiday.

In fact, according to uSwitch, bill shock affected some 9 million UK mobile users every year; so perhaps the EU can rightly claim credit for a piece of legislation which will have such a marked effect on how we use our smart phones when we go abroad. However, consumer group Which? has sent out a warning that consumers should not be complacent that the Roam Like At Home legislation will solve all roaming problems.

For a start, when you’re away from home it is all too easy to get out of the habit of checking whether you are getting close to your minutes, texts or data allowance. Those exceeding their limit could face penalties, just they would at home so it’s always worth checking before you upload that document or download that film. Then there is the question of what constitutes an EU country. Destinations such as Turkey, Switzerland and even the Channel Islands are counted as part of the EU area in respect of this legislation by some mobile providers but not by others. Here again, check before you travel to ensure that you don’t receive a nasty surprise on your return.

One other area that Which? is particularly highlighted relates to calls made to EU countries. The rate which providers charge to call from the UK to an EU country varies considerably and the same charges will apply even if you are visiting that country. So, for example, if you are staying in Spain and want to call a Spanish restaurant to make a reservation, your call will be charged at the rate set by your provider for calling Spain from England.

Whilst the EU legislation applies equally to business and private travellers, those going abroad for business may wish to examine all of their options rather than simply relying on the new roaming regulations. Let’s look at the example of someone who works part of the year in Spain and part of the year in the UK. To accommodate their local clients they may opt to advertise two separate telephone numbers, one in the UK and one in Spain. Calls to both numbers can be seamlessly directed to a nominated mobile or landline, with the destination telephone being switched depending on the country that they are currently working in.

With calls being preannounced they be answered appropriately according to the caller, thereby enabling a good client contact service to maintained, wherever they happen to be working at the time. In fact, this service can be expanded to more than 100 countries, so if business also regularly takes you to Berlin or to Paris, you can easily add local numbers for these destinations into the mix, helping to provide a personalised service wherever you roam.

Written by Alison