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Martin Lewis issues warning over EU roaming charges for travelling Brits

The UK and EU flags

Money Saving Expert (MSE) has published a new report warning about roaming charges that were introduced by UK mobile providers following Brexit. The report centres on research carried out by MSE that finds different providers have different meanings for the word ‘daily’ when it comes to daily roaming fees. As a result, MSE wants stronger regulations put in place by the regulator Ofcom.

According to MSE, some providers will charge you the daily roaming charge up to 11:59 p.m. UK time. So if you were to use data at 11:55 p.m. through to 12:10 a.m. you’d be charged for two days. The organization has called on Ofcom to put a rule in place, so the daily charge begins from first use. To further protect users, it also wants rules in place so that customers are alerted an hour before their roaming period runs out.

Here’s a summary of how operators run their £2 per day roaming in the EU:

Network Date of introduction of charges Definition of a 'day' Definition of a 'day' explained in SMS notification? Affects those who took out contracts or re-contracted on or after
Vodafone 31 January 2022. 24 hours after first use. No—does not explain what a 'day' is. 11 August 2021 (excludes those on an 'Xtra' plan with 4 Xtra benefits).
EE 3 March 2022. Until 11:59 p.m. UK time. No—does not explain what a 'day' is. 6 July 2021.
Sky Mobile 3 May 2022. 24 hours after first use. Yes—explained as 24 hours from first use. Affects all Sky customers who travel to the EU after 3 May 2022.
Three 23 May 2022. 24 hours after first use. Yes—explained as 24 hours from first use across two separate messages. 1 October 2022.
Voxi 23 June 2022. 24 hours from 12:01 a.m. (UK time) the day after you purchase a pass. No—does not explain what a day is. Affects all customers who travel to the EU after 23 June 2022.

Commenting on the findings, Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said:

“I've no faith in mobile firms to self-regulate. 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.”

Aside from the primary concern about what constitutes a day, MSE also pointed out that on July 1, many UK travellers to Europe lost several protections against unexpected roaming charges. These include getting an SMS when you start roaming, having a monthly cap on roaming fees, and providing protections against accidental roaming.

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