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New EU roaming terms & conditions 2021 explained?

Rye1
4: Newbie

I am currently with Vodafone - both mobile (20GB) and home fibre broadband. I travel a lot for both work and leisure, and originally signed up with VF as they seemed like a serious provider of telecoms, and at the time offered a very good all 'round service which suited my needs. I'd previously been with Three but left them as their roaming sounded good, but the reality was more of a 'bare bones' roaming option.

 

Can anyone please clarify the new 'fair use' small print and the 62 day UK/EU restrictions?  The way I see it is that in order to have access to my 20GB data while abroad, I now have to start really eating up my data allowance while in the UK in order to 'boost' my quota for when I'm in Europe? I rarely go anywhere near my allowance, but this seems both unfair and clumsy, and also a potential drain on UK data. Traveling is seldom predictable (especially when one is working on the road) and this new 'policy' does seem to feel like a real 'downgrade' from what I went to Vodafone for.

 

So, in order to 'protect' my 20GB data allowance if I'm away for 63 days in four months, I first have to max out my UK data as much as possible to have any hope of preserving much of my roaming 'allowance'? And how is the 'start date' counted, and on what day does one have to have 'used' one's data in the UK from? And, how is it counted if one leaves the UK for say 27 days, is back home for 10 days, and is then away again for 37 days (a total of 63 days 'over' a 4 month period)? And, what if one is home in the UK for two, three or four months on the trot?  I'm genuinely a little confused & bewildered (and quite frankly, disappointed).

 

It is naturally very tempting to look elsewhere, especially as EE are continuing with a fixed monthly 40GB roaming 'cap' (plenty and generous) - with none of this jumping through hoops with amount of data used in the UK/EU. (Their plans are also looking more than competitive..).

 

I'm sure I'm not the only one here to be affected by this?

 

Many thanks in advance for any clarification or words of reassurance..

 

 

 

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25 REPLIES 25
catean
10: Established

As UK is not part of EU anymore, the rules don't apply. I can see that the European operators are scraping the roam like home tariffs with UK starting 01.07.2021, redeploying the old style huge tariffs : 1.2 euros to call, 0.8 for received, 8 euros per MB. I am sure the UK operators will soon follow suit, probably from summer or autumn too, but they don't want to scare the customers for the moment. Brexit means Brexit in the end.

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donnyguy
16: Advanced member

There have always been fair usage policies in place to stop people abusing the 'free EU roaming' but between 2017 and now, I've only ever seen one network enforce it and that was SFR in France (my friend roamed in England for 5 months and they applied additional charges from month 4 onwards).

On the flip side, I have friends who emigrated to Spain and to this day are roaming on Movistar (they're EE customers) and haven't been surcharged once.

Same with Vodafone, if you read some of the stories on this forum, there are people who are based in Germany who use their UK contact and even someone who uses service in Cyprus. It was the reach out from Vodafone about roaming that prompted them to make contact. 

 

I think it's fair to say that due to Brexit, the networks are no longer legally obliged to offer 'free roaming'. This isn't a political point, they can opt to keep these agreements in place but it's not mandatory. 

I suppose endorsing the fair usage policy is basically Vodafone taking steps to protect itself commercially from abuse as perhaps the foreign network will bill for overuse. 

To the point above, who knows what the future will bring but the reality is, there isn't much we can do about a network enforcing a fair usage policy for the first time as it's always been there. 

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donnyguy
16: Advanced member

Just to add a couple of links

Here's what EE say (from their own website, dated 2018): 

They, like Vodafone, obviously didn't police the policy but are covered by it being there.

You must comply with the EE fair use policy which includes you being a permanent resident in, or having a stable link to, the UK. We will consider you to have a stable link to the UK if, during any four-month period, you:

  • spend a total of two months or more within the UK; or

  • mainly use your inclusive voice, text or data usage allowances in the UK, rather than while you are roaming.

    If we reasonably believe there is a breach of this stable links policy, we will monitor this based on the combination of your presence in the UK and usage in the EU/EEA/Switzerland for four months. If, during this four month period, we believe or know that you may have breached the conditions set out above, we will notify you of the breaches and ask you to explain the reasons for this, as well as setting out the type of proof you need to supply to satisfy us that your usage complies with EE’s stable links policy.

    If you do not contact us within 14 days or we think that your explanation for your usage is unreasonable we may apply a surcharge for all future usage. Surcharges are set out above and we will cease to charge these surcharges when you contact us and either supply the proof requested in our notification or comply with the stable links policy. You may not resell our UK SIM cards to persons not residing in or having stable links to the UK. If you do, we may block the SIM card and roaming services.

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Rye1
4: Newbie

Thanks @donnyguy, some useful links & insight.

 

I guess technically the problem lies in spending any continuous two month period not touching a UK signal, even though one might clearly be UK resident (home broadband, typically being in the UK 7-8 months a year etc.), so the 62 day 'policy' could unfairly penalise quite a few people. This may explain why I recently received a text from VF informing me of this new 'policy' from January 18th. I had been away for around two and a half months (though only used 3 or 3 GBs per month). My friend returned to the UK just within 2 months and has received no such text notification (also VF).

 

So, in a similar situation another time, would I get a message basically telling me I'm going to be charged a penalty? How 'smart' is the algorithm in detecting 'fair use' over a full year? And who triggers the 'warning', is it VF or the EU network?

 

I'm also trying to work out how then to 'adjust' my usage while in the UK to satisfy VF's "We will monitor and check your roaming use. If, during any 4 monthperiod, youroam in the Europe Zone or in the Global Roaming Plus destinations for 62 days or more AND your corresponding roaming usage exceeds your usage within the UK, you may incur additional roaming charges.We will send you notification two weeks prior to charging you any additional roaming charges, to allow you time to adjust your usage accordingly."

 

This still doesn't quite make sense to me "for 62 days or more AND your corresponding roaming usage exceeds your usage within the UK...." ?

 

And also, does this imply that VF are inviting you to 'slow down' any use rather than slap on any surcharges?

 

Possible working example - In the UK, with a 20GB plan, but mostly using one's home broadband at home, and maybe only actually using 2-5GB mobile data. While in the EU, one may want to access more like 5-10 GB data per month. Here one will clearly be using 'more' data while abroad, and thus using 'more' than in the UK (albeit FAR from 'unfair' heavy use IMHO). Does this not then warrant munching into one's GB plan while in the UK in order to avoid this? And if, say, one expects to be abroad for say a 70 day period (example), how are the 'calculations' done to work out whether "your corresponding roaming usage exceeds your usage within the UK"?

 

Many thanks again for any input..

 

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donnyguy
16: Advanced member

Update to the Acceptable Use Policy effective from 18th January 2021 :

You must not use any inclusive roaming services more than would be reasonably expected. Use of our services while in our Roam Free (Europe Zone, excluding the UK) and Global Roaming Plus destinations (for customers using their inclusive roaming that is included in their monthly charge) is intended for temporary, periodic travel such as holidays and short breaks.

We will monitor and check your roaming use. If, during any 4 month period, you roam in the Europe Zone or in the Global Roaming Plus destinations for 62 days or more AND your corresponding roaming usage exceeds your usage within the UK, you may incur additional roaming charges. We will send you notification two weeks prior to charging you any additional roaming charges, to allow you time to adjust your usage accordingly.

These additional roaming charges will be:

  • £0.033 per minute for calls

  • £0.01p per SMS

  • £3.13 per 1GB of data

    You will still be able to receive calls and texts from friends and relatives at no extra cost.

You're right in what you say. The guidance isn't all that clear. It's basically saying that in order to be surcharged, you've got to tick the box for both of their checks (rather than just one) so...

1. You have to use your phone in a roaming destination for 62 days or more in a four month period (fair enough)

AND

2. Your corresponding roaming usage exceeds your use in the UK 

 

So if you hammer your data when you're in the UK and don't exceed that amount when you're abroad, then you've only passed one of the two checks meaning you wouldn't be surcharged. That AND makes all the difference it seems.

I suppose it's going to be a case of watch this space and see how it impacts people. So this kicks in tomorrow meaning we've got to wait until the 21st March at the earliest to see how this impacts customers. Or perhaps if they insist on measuring over a four month period then perhaps it won't be until May we see the effect.

What I do find interesting is: 

  • You can still receive calls / texts for free 
  • Even the surcharges aren't that bad when compared to the local pricing in some overseas countries
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Rye1
4: Newbie

Thanks again @donnyguy..

 

It does seem counterintuitive to 'encourage' superfluous data usage whilst in the UK simply to jump through this 'hoop'.. One might naturally tuck into a bit more data abroad (without being anywhere near excessive) as one doesn't always have access to a land broadband connection.. But to have to put the foot on the gas while in the UK simply to cover your options for whilst abroad appears clums and vague to me

 

It would seem far more reasonable to perhaps somehow guage 'reasonable' use to one's monthly allowance with some more obvious brakes added to say unlimited plans. I find it hard stomach counting every megabit of use in either zone simply to 'comply' with some wording. What's wrong with the 62 days and a simple 'cap' of say 40 or 50GB as EE (and others) have? EE have confirmed to me that they are keeping this easy to understand (and adhere to) system.

 

Their 'wording' feels uncomfortable to me.. Fortunately I'm out of contract right now so I have the privilege of waiting and seeing, but wasn't in a hurry to switch just yet as on the whole, VF have served me well for a number of years thus far..

 

I do wonder how they came to this 'formula'...

 

 

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stonefences
10: Established

This is not an easy question to answer. Looking through the various replies, I have a few things to add.

 

@catean I'd be interested to know where your info on EU countries starting to charge for Roaming in the UK, as Vodafone Ireland have already stated they have no plans for removing UK from their list of free Roaming countries ("United Kingdom: Following Brexit, you can continue to use your data, calls and texts just like you would at home for no extra cost.")

 

@Rye1 With regard to the whole allowances and time period rules, I have had it confirmed by a Vodafone Agent today that the new Fair Usage Policy means that you will only be charged for roaming if :

(1) You are roaming for more than 62 days in a Rolling 4 month period 

AND

(2) Your usage abroad exceeds usage in UK, over the same period.

 

I'm in agreement with @Donnyguy - that "AND" is the important bit in what they're saying. How this pans out in practice remains to be seen. My reading is that they're talking about 4 months as the "same period"

 

We may only get a definitive answer in May, unless we can get a Moderator involved 😉

 

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catean
10: Established

I have an example of new post Brexit tarrifs from Orange Romania :

 

https://www.orange.ro/roaming/marea-britanie#abonament

 

My appologies, the page is in Romanian, please use the browser translate function or just read it in Romanian, it’s a very easy language 😄.

 

Vodafone Romania have the same huge tarrifs as Orange when roaming in UK.

 

I am sure that the rest of the EU countries will follow suit, and the UK operators will have no option but to raise the tarrifs.

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stonefences
10: Established

"From 1 January 2021 the United Kingdom will no longer be in the EEA, but we will keep the same conditions of consumption and tariffs as those applicable in the EEA member countries, until 30 June 2021." 

So no charges until at least June 30th.

 

Its interesting that Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway, all non-EU states, are included in their EU roaming package. It may well be Orange Romania are waiting to see what other networks decide in the interim period. 

From UK perspective, I think that EU roaming will NOT disappear completely, as no Network will want to be the first to remove it. They would lose a lot of customers to other Networks if they did! 

 

 

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catean
10: Established

Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway are part of European Economic Area. They are part of the customs union and they apply the 4 E.U. principle of free movement of capital, people, goods and services. They pay their share to the E.U. budget but they don’t have a seat at the decisions table as a E.U. member has.

 

Unfortuantely, because the EU operators are not forced trough regulations to apply special tarrifs, they can request whatever tarrif they seems suit from UK operators. When the huge tarrifs will come back, the will be applied by ALL UK operators.

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Rye1
4: Newbie

Thanks @stonefences

 

I still don't 100% understand the 62 day period in 4 months. Let's take 1st Jan, Feb, March to 30th April  as an example (4 calendar months).

 

1) A customer is in the EU roamaing for the entire April and March plus 3 days of Feb (63 days total) and uses 20GB per month (total of 40GB ish). In order not to be charged extra for this, that customer needs to consume 41GB or more during Jan & Feb combined or 21GB per each month? And does this infer that in order to 'prove' your condsupmtion is less while roaming, this needs to be done in advance of traveling? And can that customer use all 40GB roaming in say the April and none in March?

 

2) A customer travels more frequently for shorter periods, say 3 weeks in the EU and then 5 weeks back in the UK? How is their data 'used while in the UK' metered in order 'calculate' the coefficient of 'allowed dfata in the EU?

 

I can only see this going one way and customers needlessly ramping up UK usage simply to preserve their access to data whilst roaming.

 

I am finding it increasingly difficult to consider signing up for a 24 month contract renewal with all the hassle that may be involved. What's wrong with a simple and fair 'cap'? Perhaps a moderator can offer some insight into VF's thinking process..

 

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Rye1
4: Newbie

... I was hoping maybe someone from VF Staff might help with my last post, especially regards how 'use' is metered to determine allowable roaming usage..

 

😉

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Mark
Moderator

Hey @Rye1, apologies for our delay in responding, we've been extremely busy here recently.  Le'ts see if we can clear up your confusion over our updated roaming fair usage policy. From 18 January 2021, if you use your phone abroad in any of your inclusive roaming destinations for 62 or more days in a four month period and your usage in those destinations is more than your usage in the UK, we’ll send you an email or text to let you know this has happened. If, after a further 14 days of us sending you this message your roaming usage continues, you may be charged additional charges to use your phone in your inclusive roaming destinations. 

- Data: £3.13 for each 1GB. Just to note, these rates are set under the European Union roaming regulations.

- Calls: 3.3p a minute

- Texts: 1p each

Hope this helps, but if you've got any further questions, don't hesitate to get in touch and we'll be happy to help 😊

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Rye1
4: Newbie

Thanks @Mark.. I appreciate you're all very busy 😉

 

I do get what you've restated, but what I'm trying to get to the bottom of is how the 'more than in the UK'  bit is this 'calculated'? Is it a direct sum total of your use in the UK before you leave? An average over the whole 62 day period? (eg if you hop back to the UK for a few days during the 62 days). When does the meter start running? Is it therefore a different GB use 'prior' to each trip? Is it calculated within yout 'billing cycle' or the date you leave UK reception?

 

Please forgive me for being pedandic, but I do feel this is a touch vague, and when signing up for a further 24 months, I do want to be quite clear what's involved. It was all so much more strahtforward before 😕

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catean
10: Established

Just to note, these rates are set under the European Union roaming regulations.

 

This is the important text in the message from Vodafone. They are saying the tariffs are still regulated until the operators from E.U. will start charging the U.K. operators as they do all other operators from countries outside E.U. So, expect a return of tariffs that were normal before the E.U. introduce roam-like-home.

 

They started with the PAYG One tariff, instead of 500MB/day at 1 pound, they reduced it to 50MB.

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Rye1
4: Newbie

Thanks @catean..

 

A case for 'locking in' a tarif for 24 months now, or will VF be able to make changes to charges midway? 

 

Cats and mice...

 

 

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catean
10: Established

I think you will have the right to cancel you current subscription even if you signed for 24 months, but they have good lawyers, so you are not guaranteed they wouldn't find a way to change the roaming conditions without giving you the option to cancel.

 

I am only saying this, because I can see operators from E.U. starting to charge huge amounts for roaming into the U.K., and I am sure this will trigger changes into the tariffs of the U.K. operators in the next few months too. They are not in a hurry because Covid kept the roaming traffic low, but by summer I expect Vodafone to "unveil" new tariffs too.

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Rye1
4: Newbie

.... @catean

 

Fortunately I'm out of contract for now.. I would have been happy enough to renew something soon, but this new wording in ther terms makes me quite uneasy - it's just vague? Not something I'm willing to sign up for before doing my homework.

 

I'm taking my time to weigh up what other UK providers will commit to, and at the moment EE (and to some extent Three) have been 'clear' about their parameters..

 

 

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Rye1
4: Newbie

@Mark

 

I would still however, if at all possible, be interested to have the definitive clarification from someone (either yourself or another moderator) as to all the details I've picked up on above?

 

When does the 'used while in the UK' count from, 'is more than whilst roaming in the EU' etc. etc. etc? How does the 'rolling' period work? (Consumption varies a lot at different times of the year..)  If I anticipate needing access to say 10GB of my roaming data, when to I need to demonstrate the 'same' use while in the UK.. I think you get my point(s)?

 

Do please take the time to skim over my previous points as I do feel these are quite relevant details in the small print. With other operators it's mostly very easy to quantify, and you are simply 'capped' at a fair level..

 

Many thanks again in advance  🙏

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