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All you need to know about roaming charges abroad

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.

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What are the charges for roaming abroad?

You could be forgiven for thinking you won’t be charged in Europe for roaming charges because they were banned when we were in the European Union. However since Brexit it’s all change.

Companies can now charge and some say they won’t at the moment. You will need to check whether your provider is charging and from when. None are charging at the moment but many will from the end of January 2022.

12 top tips to keep roaming 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) For safety turn roaming off! Phones will always try and connect to any signal so you could be connected without even knowing!  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.

cruise ship on the sea

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) Use free wi fi where it is available such as the hotel, bars and cafes etc and make sure you are logged in.

11) If you need to phone anyone use apps like Skype and Facetime which are free! Think about what you might like to listen to or read before you go on holiday. Download everything using your own network before you fly!

12) Keep an eye on your provider’s free use policy.  Some providers add a charge for using all data allowance (although still free for calls and texts).

How to complain effectively

See also All you need to know about complaining to telecom providers

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.

Update 07/09/16 Win! New rail passenger rights announced rail will be covered by the Consumer Rights Act from 1st October 2016. From the Which? post:

“This is good news for rail passengers. In a little over three weeks all rail passengers will be entitled to have their compensation paid within 14 days. Compensation will be issued by the same method the passenger paid with, rather than with vouchers that some train companies currently use.

Passengers will also be entitled to payment for additional consequential losses, such as missed connections, and will be able to claim for any length of delay.”