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Three UK announces £2 a day EU roaming charge

by Mark Tyson on 10 September 2021, 11:11

Tags: Three (HKG:0013), UK Government

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Three UK was one of the pioneers of free mobile roaming worldwide in regions that it had established regional offices or partners. I remember jauntily using its PAYG services in the USA and Hong Kong, just like I was in the UK – a pretty useful and stress-free feature for travellers. In 2015, I was pretty happy that Three added Spain and other countries to its 'Feel at Home' roaming – a popular holiday destination for Brits. Later the same year we heard that EU roaming charges would be abolished starting June 2017, which they were, but some mobile operators had more small print than others about fair usage and so on.

Of course UK citizens voted for Brexit in 2016, so there was a question mark over what might happen after the government had consulted, drawn up plans, and picked the most beneficial form of Brexit for the people and businesses of these isles. What appears to be happening recently is that companies are back pedalling on free roaming, which is understandable from a commercial profit-making business perspective. I mentioned this reimposition of EU roaming charges, fees and so on back in June this year as the biggest UK operators (EE, Vodafone, and O2) appeared to scale back this level of service, like dominoes falling. Attempting to squeeze more money out of roaming without sparing outcry, the various mobile providers appeared to favour FUPs and/or a fixed daily surcharge for EU roaming.

On Thursday, despite my personal expectations, Three was the latest domino to fall. The firm has decided to impose a £2 per day surcharge on customers when roaming within the EU (£5 a day when roaming outside the EU), starting with effect on 23rd May 2022. These changes affect any customers who get a new or renewed contract from 1st October this year. Frequent travellers to Ireland don't need to worry though as it is unaffected by the changes.

"We know that Go Roam has always been important to our customers and we had hoped to retain this benefit, but unfortunately there are now too many unknowns, which has made it commercially unviable for us to continue," explained Three on its news blog. "This includes variations to the underlying cost of roaming, meaning we now have no visibility over the maximum amount it will cost us to provide a service for our customers to use their phone while abroad."

The above news marks quite a mood change compared to Three's press release from March 2019, just ahead of one of the Brexit Days that never came. In a post headlined Go Roam after Brexit – Three pledges to save people £187 million in mobile roaming charges after Brexit – Three set out how it would continue to be "the Best Network for Roaming".

A promise on a bus

At that time Three seemed to be on a roaming-quashing crusade, expanding the service level to cover more worldwide destinations, never mind in our neighbouring countries. Dave Dyson, CEO at Three was quoted in the press release saying "regardless of Brexit negotiations, allowing our customers to continue using their usual allowances when they travel within the EU".

Will people be bothered about paying a daily fee like this for the benefits of roaming a few weeks every year? At the current time, Covid-19 lockdowns and fewer people taking foreign holidays provides good cover for introducing such charges.



HEXUS Forums :: 57 Comments

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Will people be bothered about paying a daily fee like this for the benefits of roaming a few weeks every year?

Well some of us will be hacked off. I might have believed their slant on costs, but Three burned my good will when they increased pay as you go charges by about a magnitude and forced me to go contract. At the time I was actually annoyed that Three was the cheapest contract for my low usage, as I really wanted to leave and converting to a contract felt like rewarding them for their payg price increase rather than minimising my costs in the new environment.

Our family has 3 contracts with Three. They lost one last month to Vodafone who were both cheaper and better, I can see the others going over the next year.
I've saved hundreds if not thousands of pounds over the past 5 years of having Three Feel at Home and this rolling back of the Feel at Home is really quite naff. From the looks of things, it isn't even the mobile operators whom are doing this, more down there are no agreements in place between our government and EU countries to share the data on usage so they ultimately cannot properly establish the necessary to continue the Feel at Home system.

Sure, it means for the few weeks I go abroad a year it'll add another 10-30 pounds a visit but it's still the principal that I've lost another great feature alongside reduced travel capabilities and now with the added tax increase (what is the manifesto worth now?). I just see the promises of Brexit being slowly decayed even further and this is just another in a long line of things that have happened and are yet to happen.

Yep, this is going to be a Brexit thread.

DanceswithUnix
Well some of us will be hacked off. I might have believed their slant on costs, but Three burned my good will when they increased pay as you go charges by about a magnitude and forced me to go contract. At the time I was actually annoyed that Three was the cheapest contract for my low usage, as I really wanted to leave and converting to a contract felt like rewarding them for their payg price increase rather than minimising my costs in the new environment.

Our family has 3 contracts with Three. They lost one last month to Vodafone who were both cheaper and better, I can see the others going over the next year.

I've been using Three for 13 years with multiple contracts for my wife and I and my only issue with Three has been their loyalty program is terrible. I don't care about wantoo or whatever it is, I just want a cheaper monthly contract and having to negotiate this every time a contract is up is exhausting. But I have found Vodafone and EE (use both in my current and previous jobs) both worse in general customer service, general service availability and contract price. For my needs which are quite data heavy, Three has always been my recommendation.

Tbh, I think all of them are trying harder and harder to make PayG untenable.
Project fear proved YET AGAIN to be Project truth. Sad how far our country has fallen since it stabbed itself in the face, I mean it was on a decline before but Brexit has accelerated that significantly just to give more money to already rich people and pacify some racists.
DanceswithUnix
Will people be bothered about paying a daily fee like this for the benefits of roaming a few weeks every year?

Well some of us will be hacked off. I might have believed their slant on costs, but Three burned my good will when they increased pay as you go charges by about a magnitude and forced me to go contract. At the time I was actually annoyed that Three was the cheapest contract for my low usage, as I really wanted to leave and converting to a contract felt like rewarding them for their payg price increase rather than minimising my costs in the new environment.

Our family has 3 contracts with Three. They lost one last month to Vodafone who were both cheaper and better, I can see the others going over the next year.

I only get a good signal with EE or 3 at home. Since EE think a sub £20 contract is not a thing I've got to have three. I did find id mobile available as a slightly cheaper 3 network provider. Sure its still giving three your money but not as much?
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But yeah this is going to turn into a brexit thread. Thanks for nothing Boris and co.
Considering that they had this feature before it was required by the EU and it covered non-EU countries too, it does seem odd that they have binned it entirely rather making it a premium feature on some contracts and charging a monthly premium rather than this daily fee approach.

The bigger issue for me with 3 is that their network coverage and speeds are just so erratic, no point to removing the data usage concerns with an unlimited plan if you can't rely on the network and that's why I'll be moving elsewhere when my contract is up in a couple of months, this roaming change just gives me one less reason to consider staying.