THE BLOG

'That'll Be £2,907 Please': Falling Fowl of Mobile Data Roaming Charges in Turkey

23/06/2014 11:54 BST | Updated 23/08/2014 10:59 BST

Another day, another tale of a teenage tearaway causing mayhem and leaving her parents to foot the eye-watering bill. Vandalism, drug-taking or illegal raves we hear you ask? No, actually, this time it's mobile roaming charges.

Carissa Grice, an 18-year-old nail technician from Manchester, managed to run up a mobile phone bill of almost £3,000 after using Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp on her smartphone, on a recent holiday to Antalya, Turkey - as reported by the Telegraph.

"They need to warn people and be open about the costs of roaming," exclaimed Ms Grice. "When I spoke to them I said I haven't called anyone, I haven't sent any texts, it can't be right."

Evidently this was after she had received the bill rather than before, which raises the question why, when the youth of today are obsessed with their mobiles, are they not prepared to check online or call their network to investigate the charges they'll incur when abroad, especially when stories such as these are commonplace? As Ms Grice herself said, "'I work in a salon and you hear so many stories like mine where people have had a shock bill. It's ridiculous'."

In fact, in fewer clicks than it takes to find the name of Justin Bieber's tattoo artist, you can find on any major network's website tips to save money abroad, such as buying add-on bundles for roaming, which online activities will use the most data, and advice on connecting to free local Wi-Fi wherever possible. Charges for calls, text and data usage in the country that you're visiting are also itemised.

Of course if this is all a little too complicated, then it's always possible to use your phone as it was originally intended, to call your network and get the same information.

Whilst recent EU legislation has meant that roaming charges will be significantly reduced (again) from July 1st this year, and scrapped entirely as of December 2015, this will of course only apply to EU territories. And Turkey isn't an EU member state.

So what can people do to protect themselves?

There used to be only two options: keep your data roaming switched off at all times and only use the internet when connected to free local Wi-Fi or buy a local SIM card, and put it in your phone when you get to your destination.

But the networks are already coming up with some novel, and useful, alternatives.

Mobile network Three has introduced Feel at Home, which allows its customers to use all the services of their mobile phones in certain destinations, including the USA and Australia, as part of their current tariff.

And this week Tesco launched a free smartphone app that helps people save on mobile roaming charges by connecting to free local Wi-Fi in hotels, bars and restaurants, and make calls back to the UK via the app for just 2p per minute, the same rate as they would be charged if they were making the same call at home.

Many networks also offer money-saving roaming bundles, and EE customers will find their data doesn't work abroad at all unless they buy a data add on.

Will other networks follow suit? Let's hope so, especially as mobile roaming is such a contentious topic, and never be far from the news headlines.

But perhaps the most important question of all should be: when did Turkey's spectacular Turquoise Coast become so boring that anyone would want to spend more time on Facebook or Twitter than visiting the ancient ruins of Perge, the beautiful Düden waterfalls or looking for turtles at Cirali?

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