All you need to know about roaming charges

What are roaming charges?
Roaming charges are put in place when the network detects that you are abroad and extra rates on top of what you normally pay. Charges for making calls, receiving a voicemail, picking it up, sending and receiving texts and pictures and of course using the Internet and downloading or streaming.

Isn’t the EU doing something about this?
Sort of. Slowly. In 2007 the European Commission says it started to tackle reducing roaming tariffs when travelling in the EU. It has been progressively capping the maximum amount a mobile ‘phone provider can charge for services in Europe. On the 15th June 2017 they will end completely.

What are the capped charges?
Remember this is only for countries in the EU. The costs were capped in July 2014 and again from 30th April 2016 (excluding VAT for calls, texts and downloading data).

• Roaming data dropped from around 15p per mb to up to 4p plus the domestic price.
• Outgoing calls dropped from around 15p per minute to up to 4p plus the domestic price
• Incoming calls from around 4p per minute to up to 1p plus the domestic price
• Outgoing texts from around 5p per text to up to 2p plus domestic price
• On 15 June 2017 there will be no extra roaming fee within the EU – it will be the same as domestic price

These price caps are the maximum permissible prices. Operators are free to offer cheaper rates, so keep an eye out for better deals.

What about outside of the EU?
No laws for capping those charges.

Consider buying a SIM in the country in which you are travelling as this may be a better alternative.

Contact your provider to see what offers they have for packages for using your phone abroad.

What can you do to keep charges down?
1) Since July 2014 you can use a different provider. You can have a contract with one operator, for national services, and another with a separate operator, for roaming, so check if this may be a better option.

2) Use free Wi-Fi wherever you can! When out and about make use of any free Wi-Fi, saving picking up voicemails for example.

3) If you’re not using Wi-Fi, avoid using data-heavy activities such as watching videos, updating social media with photos or downloading music. If you are checking emails, avoid opening large attachments.

4) Most providers now offer roaming add ons at a discounted rate which may be worth purchasing. So this allows you extra allowance at no further charge. Depends how much you think you will use your phone abroad. Check with your provider before you go as to how these work and that they apply to the country you are visiting. Also confirm when they will be activated on your account.

5) Switch off the data roaming facility on your phone and put it back on when you actually know you want to use it. If you don’t do this before you leave the UK, your smartphone will automatically seek out an internet connection when you reach your destination and you may start using data without realising it. Make sure that functions such as wifi assist have been also been turned off as they put you on the network without informing the user.

6) Check with your provider that you can turn off voicemail if you don’t think you will need it and be sure to put it back on when you arrive back.

7) If you think you will need to use your phone at sea, check with your provider before you travel how much it will cost to use your phone via a satellite connection.

8) If your ‘phone is stolen whilst you are out of the UK, you could be liable for any charges that get racked up. Contact your provider as soon as possible to avoid facing high charges as a result of unauthorised use. If you are with Three, Virgin Mobile, Vodafone, EE or O2 for mobile services, you should only be responsible for paying up to a maximum of £100 for any unauthorised usage outside of your allowance so long as you report the loss within 24 hours. Also check any mobile insurance you have that may cover this.

9) Explore buying a local pay-as-you-go SIM card when you arrive. You’ll have a different ‘phone number but you will only pay local prices. Roaming charges will still apply if you want to make a call or send a text back to your home country using a local SIM. Check with your operator to make sure you can use another SIM with your ‘phone.

10) Check that the country you are visiting is covered by the EU cap! Turkey, Northern Cyprus and Egypt are all popular destinations that are outside the EU. Charges in Switzerland also vary on a network to network basis.

Your rights
1) All mobile operators have to apply a cut-off limit once you have used €50 (excluding VAT) – around £36 – of data per month, wherever you travel in the world unless you choose another limit.

2) The provider must send you an alert to your phone when you reach 80% and then 100% of the agreed data roaming limit. Operators must stop charging for data at the 100% point, unless you agree to continue to use data.

3) Under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading (Amendment) Regulations 2014 the retailer must ensure the customer understands what goods and services are being provided and ensure that there are no hidden costs. If the paperwork does not comply with the new requirements the consumer may not have to pay. When retailers send you email confirmation of the purchase this must now include a full description of the goods and services purchased including their characteristics and the full price including tax and any additional charges or delivery prices.

4) Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 traders must also provide services with reasonable skill and care.

How to complain effectively
1) Check and see if the company is in breach of any of the above.
2) If so, contact the company in writing not ‘phone.
3) See Top 20 tips on how to complain and How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results for more information, advice, tips, guidance and template letters for complaining effectively.
4) If not happy with the response email the CEO using ceoemail.com to find the address.
5) Threaten to take the case to the Ombudsman. Check whether your provider is a member of CISAS or Ombudsman Services and take your case there. You can use the ombudsman after 8 weeks since your first complaint or request a letter of deadlock.

Ombudsman Services says that almost 30% of complaints they receive about mobile phone services are about billing and data roaming. It’s often the case that customers do not fully understand the implications of opting out of the cap or read the notifications so it asks for proof from providers they have been sent.

Those they take on generally fall into one of the following categories:

 *   disputed data roaming charges or “bill shock”;

*   service failures while roaming; and

*   a company failing to cap a customer’s usage or send usage notifications.

It says, “If the provider has followed the rules then the customer usually has to pay. It is sometimes possible to get the provider to reduce the bill, but there is no compunction on them to do so.”

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Stronger consumer rights against rail companies delayed again

Alex Neil Which? guest post for Complaining Cow websiteAlex Neill, Director of Campaigns and Communications at Which? writes a guest post on train delays.

 

 

At a time when people up and down the country are up in arms about poor rail services and sub-standard compensation arrangements for delays and cancellations, the Government is seeking a delay to the implementation to the Consumer Rights Act for rail services. New rights were meant to come into force in April this year, but you will now have to wait until October 2017 to get enhanced rights to claim a full refund or compensation when you’re delayed.

The Government must not give rail companies a free pass for another 18 months and instead should bring the new consumer law into force without any further delay, rather than causing more distress to rail passengers across the UK.

What will passengers’ rights be under the Consumer Rights Act?

When the Consumer Rights Act (related to train delays) comes into force, you won’t need to be delayed for any minimum time before you would be entitled to a refund, which could be up to 100% of the cost of the ticket price. The train operating company would be obliged to pay the refund via the same payment method as the consumer used – e.g. card or cash – rather than the current default vouchers.

Delayed passengers would also be able to claim for consequential losses arising from the delay, such as the cost of missing a connection. Once it was clear that compensation was due, the train operating company would have to pay within 14 days. Claims could also be made up to 6 years after the delay occurred.

These rights under the Consumer Rights Act would not be excluded by the National Rail Conditions of Carriage or any other standard terms and conditions used by train operating companies.

What are rail passengers’ current rights?

In the absence of the Consumer Rights Act – so currently, and up until 2017 – rail passengers’ rights to compensation arrangements vary depending on the train company and are very confusing, difficult with long-winded processes. A minimum level of delay is required before any compensation is available – 30 minutes for train operating companies that offer DelayRepay and 60 minutes for others, and a claim generally has to be made within 28 days.

If you’re currently trying to get a refund, the train company doesn’t have to give this to you in the same method of payment – e.g. you’re unlikely to get a refund onto your debit card, or in cash. All train operators are now obliged to offer cash compensation rather than vouchers, this was part of changes to the National Rail Conditions of Carriage in July 2015. Vouchers are still used by some train operating companies as the default option and there’s no time limit as to when the train company needs to pay you by, but you can and should request for cash. Any claims for consequential losses are also specifically excluded under the National Rail Conditions of Carriage – so if the delayed train makes you miss your connection, you’re not able to claim for the cost of that ticket.

Which?’s ‘Make Rail Refunds Easier’ campaign

With millions of passengers left out of pocket each year due to train delays, we launched our campaign to Make Rail Refunds Easier calling for clear information on how to get a refund for delays and for all train companies to offer cash as default in December last year. As part of the campaign, which is currently supported by over 43,000 people, we also want to see train companies held to account if they fail to encourage passengers to claim refunds for delays.

We submitted a super-complaint to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) calling for an investigation into rail delay refunds and calling for action to make the process clearer and easier for consumers.The ORR responded on 18 March 2016 setting out recommendations for action from the rail industry, the response can be accessed here.

How do I complain to a train company?

  • Ask for a refund – most train companies use the national DelayRepay scheme to set what compensation they will pay.
  • Write to the train company – explain what happened, give full details of your journey and include your tickets (take copies first). Many train companies now provide online forms on their websites to do this.
  • Escalate your complaint – if you’re not happy with the response you get from the train company, or don’t receive the refund you think you’re entitled to, try contacting Transport Focus if your journey was outside London or London TravelWatch for journeys in London.
  • Contact the Ombudsman – if you’re still unhappy with the way your complaint has been handled, you can take it to the Parliamentary Ombudsman (for Transport Focus), or the London TravelWatch Chief Executive. And, if you’re still unhappy with London TravelWatch you can refer your complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman.
  • For further information on how to make a claim against a specific train company, you can visit our website.

More information regarding complaining about train delays. You can also see Tips for How to Complain and the How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! for more on your consumer rights, templates, advice and guidance.

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Sainsbury’s profits wounded in supermarket price war

Customer service takes a backseat as retailers focus on price-cutting

Sainsbury’s Preliminary Results for the 52 weeks to 12 March 2016 show underlying profit and earnings per share are down this year versus last year.

Underlying Group sales were down on the previous year down from £26,122m to £25,829m. The next quarter, in particular, may show a further decline as Sainsbury’s takes some risks. CEO Mike Coupe says “The market is competitive, and it will remain so for the foreseeable future. We believe we have the right strategy in place and are taking the right decisions to achieve our vision to be the most trusted retailer where people love to work and shop.”

But is Sainsbury’s making the right decisions? Tesco PLC’s Preliminary Results 2015/16 showed positive and improving like-for-like sales growth trends in all regions whereas Sainsbury’s showed a drop for the second year running so where does that leave Sainsbury’s? It achieved £225 million (2014/15: £140 million) of operational cost savings but has this backfired? Nectar points were halved in April of last year and in April this year it ended its “Brand Match” scheme, a move seen by customers as sneaky. Sainsbury’s said it was to concentrate on lowering prices but why it can’t still match prices at the same time so customers can be sure of cheaper prices remains a mystery. Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow – consumer blogger and author of “How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!” – says that customers want honesty, transparency and for supermarkets to listen and act and Sainsbury’s doesn’t appear to be doing this of late.

“Firstly reducing Nectar loyalty points in 2015 and abolishing Brand Match in 2016, customers may well be forgiven for thinking that Sainsbury’s is chasing profits through taking away benefits and not on its customers, who will ultimately bring in those profits. How it can say it is listening to customers when no customer I know said “please take away the benefits for being loyal” or “take away the Brand Match I will trust that your prices are low with no evidence” is beyond me.”

It would appear Coupe, may be following much maligned ex-Tesco CEO Phillip Clarke’s business model, with knee jerk reactions, not listening to customers and land grabbing (Argos/Home Retail Group acquisition). Coupe’s predecessor, Justin King, was known for listening to staff and customers and whilst Coupe may want to be putting his own stamp on Sainsbury’s it comes at a risk. Dave Lewis, the current Tesco CEO, has sold off Clarke’s expansion acquisitions and curtailed overseas plans. He has listened to customers, leading on food waste initiatives and getting rid of misleading deals. Whilst still having problems, such as the possible misleading of customers with fake farm names, Tesco appears to be going in the right direction, recently reporting figures that put them back in the black. However, Coupe may be following Clarke’s path in more than one way.

 

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All you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays

9c7709a8367001028f7cfbaaa30da7e03largeOn Radio 5 today talking holidays so here are all the links to holiday related stuff:

Make sure your holiday in the sun doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket advice on how to book a holiday and your legal rights

The essential knowhow regarding medical care when you book a holiday! all about health

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 for services relating to any purchase or service

The Minimalist Guide to Complaining About Your Holiday  your consumer rights, ATOL and ABTA

How to Make a Complaint About Your Holiday Booking story of how I helped couple’s in their fight complaining about poor service and holiday not matching the description getting nearly  a full refund even when not an ABTA member!

How to Get an Extra 3 Hours on Your Holiday! story about transfers

How to complain when booking a service based in the EU booking on a non UK but within EU site

How to Win When EasyJet’s Customer Service Fails helping someone get refund when had to return early

What to do when your flight is delayed information regarding flight delays

All you need to know about roaming charges information about EU caps, your rights and what you can complain about

Top 20 Tips on complaining effectively

ceomemail.com for contact details for CEOS

For more advice, tips, information and template letters: GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

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Tesco reduce Clubcard loyalty offer?

Tesco’s clubcard as it currently runs is probably the best loyalty programme out there and if Tesco wants to remain that way it needs to ensure that it stays the leader in the field and not go backwards and lessen the offer as Sainsbury’s has. So what has it done?

tesco

The site says:

“In the coming months, we’ll be doing more to help you get the most out of the scheme, such as double points events to help grow your points balance faster and improving our Boost Partners offer,  where you can already get up to four times the value  of your vouchers. We’ll update you with more details on this soon.” And yet they also say customers want it all more simple so let’s hope that the doubling up of points events aren’t restricted to certain items leading to the confusion of prices that they say they are getting rid of!

The Telegraph article Tesco customers “gutted” as supermarket scraps popular double Clubcard points scheme has more.

Tesco appear to be warning customers that this is the last chance to get their points doubled for instore/online purchases. Whilst Tesco may want to reach more people and expand their partner offers there are certainly customers who like to use the boosts in store. Many of us like the boost on wine at Christmas(!) and yet wine isn’t in the last offer so we miss out on that for Christmas! Tesco need to do more about expanding numbers of partners and letting customers know about the offers that they do have For example, many are geared towards family offers or geographically heavy in the south east. Older people, single people etc. do not have quite the choice that families do. Many customers want the treats, holidays and meals etc. but many also want help with day to day living. So taking away the doubling up boost on groceries is a blow. Tesco will need to show that it can and will offer even better deals than doubling up in store by offering at least doubling up the value for things like utilities. Tesco keeps saying they are listening to customers so it should open up dialogue and ask people to email them with ideas of what companies they would like to see in the partner offers!

On first appearance it looks like Tesco are shifting the cost of store offers to partners and we don’t know who shoulders the brunt of those partnerships?! As price wars eventually come to an end, and they will have to do so at some point, supermarkets will need more than price to win and keep customers and loyalty will be become increasingly important to retain. Certainly I am sure people will welcome more choice and more offers but I for one will miss the in store opportunities to use points. How about you?

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