One in six hit by hefty mobile bill after going on holiday

According to new Which? research, many Brits have fallen foul of increased roaming charges when using their phone abroad. With new EU caps about to come into effect, what else can be done?

Life's full of varying degrees of surprise. Running into an old friend you haven't seen in years is a shock. An episode of Game of Thrones is full of so many sudden twists, it's a shock if you're not shocked. But coming home from a holiday, and getting a mobile bill five times what you'd normally pay? That one'll knock you for six.

That kind of bill-shock is something many of us experience, at least according to a new survey by consumer advocate Which? It found that one in six people who had used their mobile on holiday overseas has been shocked - and presumably horrified - by their mobile bill when they returned to Blightly.

Of these, 25% were charged more than £40 more than their usual monthly payment. Customers do have a right to challenge their provider over an unexpectedly hefty bill, but 39% of those that Which? quizzed didn't know that was an option.

The impact of bill shock will be reduced - though not eliminated - from tomorrow, when new EU regulations regarding roaming charges come into effect. The maximum charge for outgoing calls abroad will be capped at 19 cents (15p) a minute, texts will cost a six cents (5p) at most, and data will a maximum of 20 cents (16p) per MB. All these are excluding VAT, by the way.

Of course, the reduced charges only apply to countries that are part of the EU. That's probably a surprise to some - according to Which? research, almost half of those who'd been abroad didn't realise that caps didn't apply to the whole of Europe.

Still, if you are in Spain, France, Germany or one of the many other EU member states, then at least we know that any bill shock will be slightly less shocking. It'll still be a problem though - especially for people that don't expect it. Calls and texts can add up, but it's mobile internet that can really cause the cost of using a mobile overseas to shoot up, so take our advice and stick to Wi-Fi wherever possible.

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