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Brits may shop around to avoid EU roaming charge return

On Monday, Vodafone followed in the footsteps of EE by reintroducing roaming charges to customers wanting to use their phones in the European Union.

Vodafone’s new fees are similar to EE’s, which charges £2 per day to use data allowances overseas. For Vodafone, this means users can expect a fee of at least £1 a day to use their phone in Europe, unless they’re on a more expensive tariff where it’s included as part of the cost.

The new rules applied to new and upgrading customers from yesterday, though the actual changes won’t apply until January. “Existing customers will not be impacted by these changes while they remain on their current price plan, and roaming in the Republic of Ireland will still be included for all customers,” the company said in a statement.

But new polling from YouGov shows that Brits aren’t too impressed with this development. In all, 71% of the 1000 citizens polled believe that the return of roaming charges is “unfair”, with 22% believing it to be fair. Seven percent didn’t know.

So what are Brits set to do with that simmering resentment? According to them, they’ll shop around for a better deal, with 26% of respondents “very likely” and another 26% “somewhat likely” to change their network if they have to pay a roaming charge to visit the EU. A combined 34% is self reporting an unlikeliness to change, which is refreshingly honest.

If these numbers can be trusted – and that’s an enormous ‘if’ given the vast gap between someone’s intent and their actual actions – then it’s good news for Three and O2. While both apply fair usage limits to data used in the EU (25GB for O2 and 12GB for Three, with anything over charged at £3.50 and £3 per gigabyte respectively), there’s no blanket charge just for the privilege of using phones abroad.

It will be interesting to see whether this competitive advantage will help O2 and Three at the expense of EE and Vodafone as peoples’ contracts expire in the months ahead.

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