EE mobile customers have accused the company of ripping them off after the provider increased the cost of its EU roaming plan from £10 to £25 a month in the space of a few months only.
While Tesco, Giffgaff, O2 and Virgin allowed their customers to continue using their phones in mainland Europe at no extra cost, EE imposed a staggering 150% increase on its popular roaming plan, making customers furious and threatening to leave. .
Roaming charges have made an unwelcome reappearance for UK mobile users heading to mainland Europe after Brexit. EE, Three and Vodafone have all quickly reintroduced daily or monthly charges for using their mobiles in the EU – which typically add £2 a day.
EE now charges its contracted customers £2.29 per day to use their phone like at home in mainland Europe, or they can purchase a monthly roaming pass. These make more sense during a two-week break. The fees only apply to those who signed new contracts after summer 2021.
Until this spring, EE’s monthly roaming pass cost £10. In March it increased to £15, then to £25 a month in mid-October – this is on top of a 14.4% increase in contract payments implemented in April.
Reader Phillip White contacted Guardian Money to ask if the increase was legal. He signed up for a new two-year contract even though the roaming add-on cost £10.
He says he was annoyed when EE increased it to £15, but was surprised when it increased again a few months later.
“It’s like an insurer selling you a car insurance policy and then writing to you in the middle of the year to say they have increased your excess from £50 to £200 and then again to £400. I can’t believe operators can just increase these fees by any amount they want. This must concern millions of customers. Why didn’t the regulator intervene? » he asked.
Other EE customers have been less polite; one posting on the company’s forum wondered why anyone would want to stay there.
“Is EE sniffing glue,” they wrote. “I can get a SIM-only monthly contract for £12 a month, 100GB (data) with free EU roaming and unlimited calls and texts (with another provider). Or I can continue to pay EE £25 a month extra when I leave – looks like I’m going to leave EE. It’s a good way to scam people.
EE told Guardian Money that the price rise reflected “the increased cost of providing roaming services as well as investment in its network and customer services in the UK”.
He said: “The Roam Abroad Pass also offers significant cost-saving benefits to customers traveling to Australia, the United States, Canada, Mexico or New Zealand, with roaming to these destinations included in the pass. »
However, its position seems increasingly out of step with its competitors. Tesco Mobile said last week its customers could benefit from free roaming in mainland Europe until 2025. EE’s biggest rival – the merger of O2 and Virgin Mobile – said it was “proud to stand out as the only major mobile provider to offer inclusive European roaming as standard.”
A spokesperson for regulator Ofcom said: “Under our rules, telecoms companies must ensure their terms and conditions are clear and transparent. If your supplier changes the terms of your contract, they must give you at least one month’s notice and the right to withdraw without penalty, if the change does not exclusively benefit the customer.
Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at Uswitch.comsaid EE customers should check their plans before traveling, as their current deal may already include a roaming pass as part of their ‘inclusive extras’.
He added: “Consumers are now at the mercy of providers following the end of standard EU protections for mobile users in the UK, and as such networks have a responsibility to ensure any additional costs are clearly communicated . »