5

I have a SIM card from one EU country, and travelled to another. It was after 2017-06-15, so I should enjoy the new "roam like at home" rules. I made a call to a non-EU country, expecting to be charged like I would at home. But no - I was charged 40 times more.

It seems like a violation of EU regulations, but my operator refuses to refund me. Is he right in doing so?

Details:

I bought a Tesco Mobile prepaid SIM in Ireland, then traveled for a few days to the Netherlands, where I made a call to an Israeli mobile phone, for 4 minutes, for which I was charged 16 euros.

I expected to be charged 10 cents/minute, based on this mail I got from my provider:

From the 15th of June 2017, you can use your Tesco Mobile plan within the EU just like you would at home in Ireland. This means that you will pay the same standard rates as you would at home when travelling within the EU.

And based on their price list, which says a call to an Israeli mobile phone is 0.10 euro/minute.

However, according to Tesco Mobile's site (emphasis mine):

As of the 15th of June 2017, you can use Tesco Mobile Prepay within the EU just like you would at home in Ireland*. This means that if you’re travelling within the EU and want to call/text another EU country or use data you’ll pay the same price as you would at home in Ireland.

So a call to Israel, which isn't in the EU, isn't covered.

But Tesco Mobile don't make the rules. The EU does. The EU site says:

You benefit from these rules when calling (to mobile and fixed phones), sending text messages (SMS) and using data services while abroad. You pay exactly the same price for using these services when travelling in the EU as you would if you were at home.

The related FAQ page says nothing about limiting this only to calls where the destination is within the EU.

But, as a last twist, the EU resolution itself, written in Legalese, mentions regulated roaming services for voice calls and SMS messages originating and terminating within the Union - so maybe Tesco Mobile does have the right to charge me as they wish?

The whole "roam like at home" thing was meant to prevent bill shock, and I got serious bill shock (actually the prepaid equivalent - had my credit eliminated by a single call). Can I challenge this charge?


  • 1
    The regulation, the only legal source for all this, seems clearly intended not to cover this situation (see also the definition and use of the phrase “Union-wide roaming”). So it seems that, information material aside, EU law does allow your provider to charge you more and won't be of much help. Maybe you have some recourse under local law protecting consumers against false advertisement? – Relaxed Jul 1 '17 at 22:33
  • 1
    @Relaxed, It seems like the EU itself is doing false advertisement. Or like the PR people don't understand the law they're writing about. – ugoren Jul 1 '17 at 22:38
  • Yes, I noticed that but that doesn't really help you. OTOH, the operator providing wrong information about their own billing practices might. – Relaxed Jul 1 '17 at 23:29
  • International calling was specifically looked at and excluded in 2013, back when this regulation was in its infancy, so as such it's not counted as a "regulated roaming call". – Moo Jul 2 '17 at 3:53
5

Answering my own question, mostly based on @Relaxed's comments.

Calls outgoing outside the EU are not covered by new EU regulations, the operator can charge for them as he likes.

This can be seen by reading the EU regulation, Article 2 (definitions), 2.f (emphasis mine):

‘regulated roaming call’ means a mobile voice telephony call made by a roaming customer, originating on a visited network and terminating on a public communications network within the Union or received by a roaming customer, originating on a public communications network within the Union and terminating on a visited network;

However, the information provided by the EU on its web page is, IMO, misleading. It doesn't mention the exclusion of calls outside the EU in any way, implying that they're included.

The Tesco Mobile Ireland site does mention this exclusion, but the mail sent to me doesn't.

In the bottom line - this seems like an important pitfall, which should have been made clear, but the high charge is legal.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.