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VM have charged me for data usage in a country I haven't been to!

I have just returned from driving around Europe and checked my latest bill for my mobile. In addition to my normal charge I have been charged me an additional £6.92 for data usage in Switzerland. I did not go to Switzerland!

As phoning VM on 789 always seems to make things worse, I tried the text service to get this sorted out. I just got a really unhelpful reply saying: "Your message has been aborted as you currently hold another conversation on a different skill channel", whatever that means. (I did use the text service a couple of months ago for a completely unrelated reason).

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Message 2 of 31
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Re: VM have charged me for data usage in a country I haven't been to!

Did you travel near to a border with Switzerland?  As radio waves don't respect borders, it's possible to roam on to a country's network from several miles away (many miles away when on top of a mountain) without actually entering the country.

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Re: VM have charged me for data usage in a country I haven't been to!

I was on the other side of the Alps, in Italy.

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Re: VM have charged me for data usage in a country I haven't been to!

Hi chevrons2,

 

Thanks for your post on our Forum and I'm sorry to see you've been issued with the charge from Switzerland.

 

When customers go roaming in the European Union, or abroad for that matter, we are unable to control what masts a customer were to connect to, nor would we directly issue you with the charge.

 

The charge comes from the network provider who owns the mast and the charge is then passed onto us from the network in particular country, or Switzerland in this case

 

In short it looks like you've picked up a mast in Switzerland whilst being abroad in Italy under no jurisdiction of Virgin Mobile.

 

Sorry to not give you better news

 

David_Bn 

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Re: VM have charged me for data usage in a country I haven't been to!

Hi David_Bn.

Thank you but you seem to be suggesting that I accept these charges!

I've checked exactly where I was at the closest point to Switzerland during my trip:

I was in France, (to the south of the Alps), 24km away from the Swiss border, (north face of the Alps).

While there, (in France), I had a Virgin text at 11.39am welcoming me to Switzerland and listing the charges. I immediately had a second text (within the same minute) welcoming me (back!) to France. (I had no further texts suggesting that I had returned to within signal distance of Switzerland and the next text I received welcomed me to Italy at 3.05pm). 

You have charged me for 13.76MB of data usage at 11.39am, followed by smaller amounts at 11.42am and 11.47am.

Your answer above seems to be suggesting that as i was close to the Swiss border, I just have to accept your charges for data use within Switzerland!

It may be that mobile phones do not respect physical borders but those borders are there and are subject to the laws regarding mobile phone use:

Within the EU, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein we are entitled to ‘roam like at home’ and be charged no more than using our mobile phone in the UK. I have remained within the EU for the whole time. However, Offcom does mention the following with regard to the EU regulations:

"..... under very strict conditions, some providers may be granted an exemption from the rules. Currently, no provider has been granted such an exemption. Providers are also allowed to adopt a fair use policy to prevent abusive or excessive use. However, there are specific rules on when a fair use policy can be applied, and it should generally allow consumers to use their service for periodic travel in the same way they would at home. To check whether your provider applies a fair use policy to your specific tariff, check the current terms and conditions for your contract, or contact your provider.....".

I am doing that now: Please could you refer me to the relevant part of any documentation that shows that either Virgin are exempt from these regulations or that shows that I have exceeded your fair use policy.

If you can not do this, then it seems to me that Virgin are not entitled to charge me for data usage in a country that I have not entered and perhaps, for legal reasons as well as customer-service reasons, you should not be suggesting to your customers that they just accept such charges.

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Re: VM have charged me for data usage in a country I haven't been to!

Hi chevrons2,

 

Thanks for your post and I'm sorry that you're not happy with the response I've offered you.

 

I've been able to take the literature below from one of our web pages - https://store.virginmedia.com/virgin-media-mobile/our-mobile-network/data-roaming-abroad.html

 

"Plus, we think post-trip blues are bad enough without nasty surprises lurking in your mobile bill. That’s why we’ll cap your data roaming usage at £51.50 (including VAT) unless you tell us otherwise.

Going somewhere in a Roam Like Home country near the EU border? Sometimes your mobile phone can connect to a network from outside the EU instead, which means you’ll be charged extra for roaming. To avoid these extra charges, we recommend turning your roaming off while you’re there. Please also check any welcome SMS messages you get when you arrive in these areas and the relevant roaming prices stated."

 

This link below will be able to tell you exact what charges come from roaming with a UK phone when connected to a mast in Switzerland

 

https://www.virginmedia.com/help/virgin-mobile-roaming-turkey-and-switzerland

 

Kindest regards,

 

David_Bn

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Message 7 of 31
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Re: VM have charged me for data usage in a country I haven't been to!

Thanks.

Please show me where EU regulations allow Virgin to charge individuals for data usage at non-EU rates, while those individuals remain within EU countries.

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Message 8 of 31
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Re: VM have charged me for data usage in a country I haven't been to!

Hi chverons2,

 

As previously stated, Virgin Media don't issue the charge to customers, the charge originates from the provider of the mast and this passed onto Virgin Media, which is then passed on to the customer.

 

We do also advise customers have what can happen when they connect to a mast outside of the EU.

 

"Travelling outside the EU

If you’re travelling outside the EU, you won’t be able to use your UK allowances.

If you’ve switched on roaming, you’ll be charged for any calls, texts and data you use when abroad, and your data usage will be charged per Megabyte.

When roaming, we'll help you to avoid surprise mobile bills by capping your data use. We'll text you when you've reached 80% of the data cap, and we'll text you again once you've reached the data cap.

Once you've hit the roaming data cap, you can text YES to 23457 to turn the data cap off. Or, to switch your roaming data cap on, just text NO to 23457.

Our tariff guide lists the data cap values – check it out here if you're a pay monthly customer, or here if you're a PAYG customer.

Choose your destination country above to find out how much you'll be charged for calls, texts and data.

If you joined us after December 2017 or have swapped your SIM card since then, we wanted to let you know that there are a few places outside the EU where you can’t roam with Virgin Mobile.

Here’s the full list: Chile, Ethiopia, Falkland Islands, Guam, Namibia, Northern Mariana Islands, Paraguay, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Swaziland, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan, Vanuatu and Venezuela"

 

 

Kindest regards,

 

David 

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Message 9 of 31
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Re: VM have charged me for data usage in a country I haven't been to!

Since VM roaming charges are so extortionate and mobiles can use many MBs of data in a few seconds, I wouldn't risk taking a VM mobile within 50 miles of the EU border.

That £51.50 cap, by the way, is imposed by EU law - it's not VM being kind to its customers.

It does surprise me that people tolerate VM's mobile charges abroad. There are other operators that are far better value. Three, for example, who include the US and Switzerland in their "roam like home" countries.  It's worth buying one of their PAYG SIMs for a short holiday to avoid this sort of unexpected cost. 

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Re: VM have charged me for data usage in a country I haven't been to!

I understand what you are saying David_Bn but I am suggesting that, (regardless of whether or not a Swiss company charges you for providing mobile data), under EU law, you are not legally permitted (despite any warnings that you may publish somewhere), to charge your customers a higher rate whilst they are within EU boundaries. As I have shown, there are exceptions but I do not believe that being somewhere near a border is such an exception. 

If I am mistaken, please show me where, within the EU regulations, it allows you to charge the tarrif you set for a non-EU country, to a customer who is physically within the EU (by 24km in my case).

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