Time Bandits

It has to be the biggest ripoff on the planet ever, is on-going, and is completely legal. But part of the problem is being addressed by the European Commission, which is responsible for the regulations on roaming charges on mobile networks. The remainder of the problem, the monetization of time by putting a time limit on the payment for a service, is left to individual countries to control – and they are so far doing an appallingly bad job of it!

Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, initially tackled the legislation for this problem, and put the telecoms companies on notice that roaming charges were a step too far.
“Neelie Kroes, the commission vice-president who speaks on digital affairs, is bent on ending the unpopular roaming fees, which have left many holidaymakers with huge bills on their return home. Her proposals have faced fierce opposition from the largest networks, including Vodafone, Orange and Telefónica, which say the end of roaming within Europe could cost them €7bn (£5.9bn).” See:- http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/sep/05/europe-law-ban-mobile-roaming-charges

Kroes has described roaming charges as a “cash cow” for operators and “a disproportionate irritant for travellers”.
See also:- Europe’s Bid to End Roaming Charges, at – http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-11-14/2014-outlook-europes-bid-to-end-roaming-charges

When a Londoner takes a trip to Paris, two and a half hours away by train, his phone bill soars. A 20-minute call home costs £5 ($8). Texting a photo is 60 pence (96¢). Ten minutes of Google Maps (GOOG) is £2.76. All these services would be free had he just stayed put.

European companies stand to make $19.7 billion in roaming fees this year (2013), according to research firm Informa Telecoms & Media. (This is a much bigger cow than the telecoms companies admitted to!)

Payment for incoming calls is complete idiocy to my way of thinking. It not only reduces traffic, and hence income, but also both the sender and the receiver are charged. This would also be scrapped under the proposed legislation.

However, roaming charges are only one cash cow – there is another, and it could be equally as big! Most plans charge for a certain bandwidth per month. If it is not all used, the remainder of the fee is “expired”. If more than the allotted bandwidth is used, the customer will be charged for the excess.

This “expired” is in fact nothing other than theft. What should happen is that any outstanding balance should be offset against the next month’s bill, and would reduce the cost of any future excess. It would only be a matter of changing a computer program to correct this problem, but nobody wants to do it – they would lose too much income!

And when we consider the two-year lock-in contracts, with their penalties for early termination, who knows how much more money these greedy people are coining in?

I am not the only person that thinks customers are getting a raw deal from the telecoms companies, but I am not in such a good position as John Legere to deal with it. John is the chief executive officer of T-Mobile US (TMUS), the fourth-largest wireless carrier in the country.

And John is standing the industry on its head in the US!
See:- “T-Mobile’s Renegade CEO Is Crushing His Rivals” http://business.time.com/2014/02/26/t-mobiles-renegade-ceo-is-crushing-his-rivals/
and “T-Mobile’s Wacky Plan to Trash the Wireless Business Model” http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-10-31/t-mobiles-john-legere-trashes-the-wireless-business-model#p1

This only applies in the US, unfortunately, but could pave the way for big changes all around the globe. The push for them, however, must come from you – the consumer!
So, first inform yourselves, then agitate, agitate, and agitate some more!

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