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Press Release


7 July 2008

Lynne Jones MP asks holidaymakers: Do you know the true price of surfing on the beach?

Ten-point check-list to avoid mobile phone bill shock

With the summer holiday season underway Lynne Jones is urging holidaymakers to be aware of the costs of making calls, surfing the internet or sending emails from mobile phones when overseas.

The call comes after a number of reported cases in which people using mobile phones to download data when abroad have been greeted with massive bills upon their return. These include:

·                 A consumer who used a 5GB limit data roaming card in Austria and received a bill for over £4,000 for usage, after being informed that the operator’s limit was only 50MB.

·                 Another who used a mobile phone to surf the web in France and was charged over £400 for 15 minutes of access. (source: Ofcom)

Lynne Jones MP said:

“More and more people are using their mobile phones, or new mobile “dongles” with laptops to surf the web or send emails while out and about. With price plans starting from £5 per month most people know what their charges will be when used in the UK.

“But using these devices in the same way when overseas – including within the EU – can run up bills of hundreds or even thousands of pounds. Even downloading a 79p song from iTunes can cost £20.

“This can be avoided if people follow just a few simple steps, both before they go and while on holiday.

“I’m urging everyone who is heading overseas this summer to make sure that when sorting out their holiday insurance and foreign currency, they know the score when it comes to using their mobiles abroad. The last thing people want when they get back from their summer break is a huge bill sitting on the doormat.”

The ten-point check list is:

1.      Enable your mobile phone: Check with your mobile provider that your phone has been enabled to use abroad. Operators are obliged to provide this information to customers.

2.      Check your handset: Check with your mobile provider that your handset will work in the country you are travelling to.

3.      Check the prices before you leave: Contact your mobile provider to check your tariff before you travel to help avoid unexpectedly high bills.

4.      Ensure you are getting the best deal: Check international packages offered by operators before you travel to ensure you are getting the best deal.

5.      The new Eurotariff excludes web, email or texting: The new pan European mobile phone tariff (Eurotariff) only applies to voice calls, not to texting and data downloads. It is available from all operators, across most European countries but is not available in Switzerland, Turkey or Croatia.

6.      Check your bundles: Don’t assume that the price of calls made abroad is included in your bundled package.

7.      Don’t forget voicemail: Picking up voicemail from abroad can cost the same as making a call to the UK – check with your provider if in doubt. You may also be charged every time someone leaves a message on your voicemail. If you want to avoid these charges, you can switch off your voicemail before you leave the UK.

8.      Using mobile internet abroad: Be aware that when connecting to the internet via a mobile handset, dongle or data card (a portable modem which provides internet access via the 3G network) while abroad could cost significantly more than when using them at home.

9.      The local SIM option: If you are out of the country for a long period time, it could be cheaper to buy a local SIM card that can be used in your handset or a local dongle.

10.  Alert your operator immediately if your phone is lost or stolen: If your phone is lost or stolen when you are abroad remember that you could be liable for the cost of the calls made in that country. Make a note of the contact details of your operator before you travel to ensure that you can get in touch with them as soon as possible to report the loss.


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