From the 15th June, the new EU roaming regulations came into force, leading to the end of all roaming charges whilst travelling in the EU. However, despite the charges being dropped, there are certain key points that phone users may have not noticed that could still mean an unanticipated fee.
Although the new regulations now state that every customer will be charged the same rates for usage as they would in their home country, you could still find yourself with a surprise charge at the end of the month. For example, if a member of crew was based in the UK off-season but needed to make a call, perhaps to a future employer in France, they could still be charged the traditional usage rates on some tariffs.
Furthermore, the updated law does not affect the high rates that can be charged for calls made from EU countries to non-European countries. Imagine that same person has now begun their season in France but wished to call a family member in Australia. They would still be charged the standard rates that their network provided, which although vary massively can be as high as £2.15 per minute for U.K. networks . All this means our crew member may well be facing a large pay-out at the end of the month, and one which they probably hadn’t even considered.
Changing consumer expectations to be met
With the regulation changes setting the tone for cheaper roaming prices, superyacht crew are understandably demanding more than ever from their phone contracts. Crew want tariffs to be completely flexible to match their everchanging lifestyles; to allow them to pick and choose what coverage they will want and when they will want it. So, data providers must make sure they are catering for this or risk losing business. One way to achieve this is by offering shorter term contracts, such as those on a 30-day rolling basis that can be cancelled or re-activated as and when required. Whether the service is purchased yacht-wide or for an individual, this suits the seasonal and sometimes unpredictable life of those in the superyacht industry.
Transparency is also highly valued amongst customers, with the EU roaming charge abolition elevating doubts about the fairness of hidden charges or catches from phone companies. Now in mid-season crew are very busy, and so it is particularly important that understanding their phone bill doesn’t take up much time. To avoid surprise fees, some swap SIM cards between countries, however this again is time consuming and often means constantly changing numbers. Therefore, companies offering the opportunity to stick with the same phone number for a fixed fee provide for these crew expectations. This means they can spend as little of their precious free time as possible dealing with personal admin, whilst continuing to pay a ‘fair’ price.
Avoiding massive pay-outs
There are options for those who want to ensure they never get unexpected charges, after being lulled into what can be a false sense of security by headline figures and statements. Companies like RoamingExpert offer bespoke packages which allow crew to pay low costs for reliable tariff plans, meaning it is much easier for them to keep track of their expenses. For example, a RoamingExpert tariff offers calls to any non-European country from Europe for 30p per minute (inc. VAT), whereas other networks could charge up to £2.15 a minute (inc. VAT).
With a range of exclusive mobile plans available to consumers, all elements of roaming can now be made hassle free and affordable – something which is obviously crucial for people whose careers revolve around travelling the world. Though EU roaming charge abolition has gone some way to helping, crew now look to data providers to offer more trustworthy and flexible options for using their mobile phones.