Three has become the third mobile network following Brexit to reintroduce roaming fees when travelling abroad of £2 daily.
The firm follows rivals EE and Vodafone which recently announced the return of £2 daily charges, while O2 has kept free roaming so long as it is deemed “fair use”.
The move is a particular defeat for Three customers since it not only offered free-roaming across Europe but also other worldwide destinations like the US and Australia.
The company is to start charging new and upgrading pay monthly and Sim-only customers roaming fees to use their monthly allowance in Europe from 23 May 2022. Though Pay as you go and customers who have taken out a contract before 1 October 2021 will be unaffected by these changes.
In addition, Three will also lose its free ‘Go Roam’ service outside of Europe and start charging users £5/day.
Mobile firms were banned from charging customers extra fees to use their UK allowance of minutes, texts and data (subject to a fair use cap) in Europe while the UK was still part of the EU. But post-Brexit these rules no longer apply.
Under the UK’s Brexit trade agreement, it said both sides should “co-operate on promoting transparent and reasonable rates” for mobile charges but a guarantee on free-roaming was not maintained.
Although network providers could choose to bring back charges once the UK had left the EU, the main four – EE, O2, Three and Vodafone – initially said they had no plans to do so.
However, the company has blamed its U-turn on underlying wholesale costs and disrupted travel due to the pandemic, making it no longer a commercially viable offer.
According to Money Saving Expert O2 and Sky Mobile have confirmed they have no plans to change their current mobile roaming policies for now.
Sue Davies, Head of Consumer Protection Policy at Which? said:
“It’s really disappointing that Three is reintroducing roaming charges for people travelling in EU countries, as well as other destinations across the world, and that new and upgrading customers will be burdened with extra charges abroad for using mobile data, calls and texts that they have already paid for.”
“As the UK continues to negotiate trade deals, it should grasp the opportunity to lower the cost of roaming for consumers travelling around the world. The UK and EU should also urgently strike a deal on roaming charges to stop companies chipping away at the roaming benefits customers have become used to and to prevent the return of the excessive charges people used to encounter.”
Whilst Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at Uswitch.com, commented:
“The news that Three is set to join EE and Vodafone means that three of the UK’s four biggest networks are now asking their customers to pay a fee for access to data and minutes they have already paid for when abroad.”
“It’s particularly surprising that Three have gone down this route, given their reputation for generous roaming allowances and winning the Uswitch award for their ‘Go Roam’ service for two years running.”