Consumers call for capped roaming charges

[box border=”full”]CHOICE welcomes new rules forcing telcos to warn consumers of excessive overseas roaming charges[/box]

CHOICE welcomes the announcement by the Federal government to force all Australian mobile providers to give consumers details about overseas mobile roaming costs for voice, text and data services.

The new rules, which will take effect from September 27, will see consumers sent an SMS message when they arrive overseas, alerting them to higher charges. They will also reveal to consumers that they may be charged for services that are normally free at home, how to turn off roaming and provide the exact price for services.

“The telecommunications industry has been fleecing Australian mobile phone consumers for years when it comes to overseas roaming charges and these new rules are a step in the right direction,” says Tom Godfrey, Head of Media at CHOICE.

“In addition to warnings, CHOICE would like to see overseas roaming costs capped so telcos can’t continue to dial up charges that leave consumers thousands of dollars out of pocket when they return from overseas.

“CHOICE also supports the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network’s call for great transparency as to how huge roaming charges are calculated. It would be great for consumer to know how much our telcos are really just passing on costs from overseas providers.”

“It’s encouraging to see that some Australian providers have pre-empted the new rules and are already alerting consumers to sky-high charges when they are travelling.”

When it comes to complaints, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman reported in December that complaints about disputed roaming charges increased by almost 70 per cent in 2011-12 to more than 4100.(1)

The news comes following the announcement on 1 July that the European Union’s Roaming Regulation has lowered the prices for mobile roaming within the EU. By 2014 EU consumers will benefit from a price caps for making a calls, sending SMSs and across mobile internet.(2)

“We recently saw the Government announce promising steps towards limiting Trans-Tasman roaming costs, and we encourage them to take this further and seek to cap costs wherever Australians roam, such as the EU,” says Mr Godfrey.

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CHOICE consumer tips

  1. Use free Wi-Fi hotspots to Skype and Facetime when overseas
  2. Purchase a SIM card from the country you are travelling in
  3. Hire a cellphone at the airport from a local provider
  4. Before you leave Australia buy a pre-paid travelling SIM
  5. Alert your telco provider that you are travelling overseas and ask for the voice, text and data costs.