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Back in the summer, consumers rejoiced as the EU won its battle with mobile operators and made them slash their roaming prices across Europe.
It meant we could finally travel around the continent and have fantastic holidays without panicking about coming home to huge bills.
But it was the business community that sighed the biggest amount of relief. When you are out of the office, your mobile becomes your most precious possession; both as a way of contacting those for anything you need in the office and as a way to keep you sane with the nightly call to your loved ones.
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You don’t have a choice when you are abroad on business to switch your phone off and ignore it until you return to your home shores. It is a necessary tool to keep you working on the move and you just have to pray your office will accept the expense claim when the bill rolls in.
But our little European victory as business travelers has now been dwarfed by mobile operators desperate to claw back the cash they are losing from the new and fair legislation.
O2 announced the first price rises for five years for its outside EU roaming tariffs, proving before this legislation, the numbers had clearly sufficed.
Now, it has had the gall to whack the prices up an excessive amount. You can read the full run down here, but figures included a rise from 81p to £1.50 to make a call in Zone 3 countries, such as Croatia and an introduction of a flat 40p rate for text messaging wherever you are outside of the EU, up from 25p in the US.
But receiving calls was even worse. In the US & Canada, Asia Pacific and Zone 3 countries, the charges had more than doubled for each minute, rising from 39p to 90p, 43p to 80p and a whopping 52p to £1.25 respectively.
This is appalling. Yes, if you are heading to the US for a one week holiday it might not be an issue, but what if you are heading there once a month with work? What if your company doesn’t hand out expenses for your phone bills but expects you to be contactable all the time? Or what if you run a small business that has to go meet prospective customers but has no accounts department to submit expenses to?
These sort of price hikes target the corporate user that the likes of O2 know have to use their phones or they can’t do their jobs. It is a tax on the business traveller who has no choice but to make a call and pay through the nose for it.
I sing the praises of the EU for what they have done but we need to find a way to stop mobile operators using roaming as a license to print money as there is no way it is costing them this much to connect calls.
Maybe if the business community makes enough noise, we can get the ball rolling. It is time to tell operators we won’t put up with sky high charges for low rate service.