The European Union is ringing in the changes with a ban on mobile roaming charges, but although citizens may have freedom of movement, the deal’s not so straightforward with phone contracts.
If you are a European Union citizen on the move across borders for work, pleasure or family reasons, you would expect to pay the same for calls on your mobile as you would on the other side of the border you have just hopped over.
It’s a shame that’s not true.
The anomaly is you can make a call from across the 10 miles separating Dundalk, Eire, from Warrenpoint in Northern Ireland which is charged as an international call, while the 310 mile call to London is charged at national rates.
Make the same call from Dundalk, and that’s charged at international rates.
The phone companies say you have to draw a line somewhere, but it seems this line is laid down where it suits their business model more than customer convenience.
For arguments sake, take Australia and a call the 2,700 miles from Perth in the west to Brisbane in the east.
But although calls within Australia are included in the monthly tariff, even though Perth and Brisbane are a similar distance from the easternmost and westernmost fringes of the EU, calling Eire from Athens would require international charging.
Directive is too little, too late
In Europe, Vodaphone generously imposes a £3 a day tariff for international callers, but that more than doubles the monthly national call charge for a fortnight’s break in another EU country.
Outside of that, and callers are in the wild frontier of unchecked international call tariffs.
The new EU rules will still take some time to arrive – they are scheduled for summer 2017.
Meanwhile mobile phone customers are at the mercy of their provider.
The hard-fought directive seems too little too late and suggests the clout of big business making millions from their tariffs lobbying politicians in Brussels seems to drown out the voice of the common man.