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Brits face £256m mobile bill shock for not knowing which countries are in the EU

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29/05/2013
Brits heading abroad could be stung with a bill of £256m due to confusion over mobile roaming charges in different parts of the EU.

According to research done uSwitch.com, despite EU regulation introduced last year which capped the cost of using mobiles abroad, many Brits are still unsure as to exactly how much their usage will cost them.

From 1 July this year, mobile networks will be forced to cap roaming charges within EU countries even further. The new caps will mean it costs just €0.24 per minute to make calls, €0.07 per minute to receive calls and €0.08 to send a standard text message.

Those who use the internet on their mobile will also enjoy greater protection from high bills as data charges are set to be capped at a lower rate of €0.45 per MB, as well as a €50 cap on overall data usage. These limits are also set to drop further in 2014.

But problems arise when holidaymakers travel to countries outside of the EU as they will still be vulnerable to high charges.

According to the uSwitch.com, almost half incorrectly think that popular British holiday destination, Croatia, is part of the EU.

Norway, Switzerland and Iceland also throw people, with 45%, 36% and 32% respectively believing these countries are in the EU. And almost a third (30%) wrongly reckon that Turkey is an EU country. Considering that Istanbul is number eight in the UK’s top 10 favourite destinations this year, some bill payers could be in for a nasty shock.

In fact, Brits flying to Turkey for seven days this summer could chalk up a £281 mobile phone bill just by making and receiving two five-minute calls, listening to a two-minute voicemail message, sending five text messages and two photo messages each day.

But it’s the cost of data that adds the most to a mbile bill. 1MB of internet data – just about enough to view a couple of web pages and update your status on a social network – costs an average of £4.75 across the five major networks.

Smartphones are more popular than ever and a seven-day data bill – just based on a modest amount of video streaming, emailing, browsing websites and using VoIP services like Skype to keep in touch – could hit £294 if mobile users don’t keep their phone’s data roaming switched off and use free local Wi-Fi instead. That means someone who wasn’t clued up about roaming charges could quite easily face a mobile bill totalling £575.

Ernest Doku, technology expert at uSwitch.com, said: “Holidaymakers need to add ‘check roaming charges’ to their pre-holiday to do lists. Talking to your network before you jet off will very likely spare you a nasty post-holiday bill shock, as they may be able to advise a bundle, or at the very least let you know the costs involved with using your phone abroad.

“Limit the damage by keeping data roaming switched off as much as possible. And, when it comes to calls and text messages, the best way to keep costs down to a minimum is to buy a local SIM card, put it in your phone and top it up. If you want to use the internet, wait until you can get Wi-Fi at a hotel or café.”

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