A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be in the USA. As it was a quick visit, I’d not really organised any local SIM and took my normal Vodafone handset. When the plane touched down I received the usual text message from Vodafone advising on costs but, as I was tired and it had been a long flight, I didn’t really check into it fully.
Yes, my own fault for not reading it properly. True, but I do want to put forward a word of caution for those, like me, who assume that using your phone only briefly will mean a cheaper bill. Sadly, with the setup on the Vodafone “Roam Further” billing, it’s not that way at all.
In the past I’ve been used to networks telling you that a text message might cost a lot, or a phone call might be quite pricey. When you’re outside of the EU then it’s just the way it is. However, for the most part you’re given the option of either paying an inflated price per call / text / MB or you can opt-in to a “per day usage” system. Usually the latter will involve you paying a daily charge so that you can use a set amount of minutes, texts and data.
However, with a standard Vodafone package it’s slightly different. Sure, it sounds fine to begin with. In all these locations you can use your normal package, just like you’ve got at home, by paying £6 per day.
Simple, straightforward. Yeah?
When I landed in the USA, as is almost inbuilt for someone travelling, I was concious about using a lot of data, making too many calls or texting too much. So I sent just one text from the taxi on the first day.
“Arrived safe, will WhatsApp you from the hotel WiFi”
Next day, I kept the phone off, but when I turned it on I found a missed call from home. Thinking it was important, I called back but it went to answerphone.
Then, as I headed back to the airport on the final day, I sent one final text.
The cost for this? For two text messages and a dropped outbound call?
It wasn’t until I got back and received a message from Vodafone saying, “Your bill is higher this month” that I realised what had happened.
You activate the Vodafone £6 daily charge just by using your phone. You might do an accidental pocket dial, a quick text or a tiny bit of browsing. It’ll initiate the £6 daily charge. You’ve got no other option unless you sort out one of their other roaming contracts ahead of time.
I double-checked with Vodafone, but they’re of the opinion that this is a good offer. Sure, for someone wanting to use their phone outside of the EU a lot, it’s fine, but for those who only lightly use their phone and don’t necessarily want a lot, it’s a heavy penalty. There doesn’t seem to be an option to not activate the £6 daily charge, so just sending one solitary text message home and then turning off your phone will cost £6.
Likewise, if you’re in America for a week and send 5 text messages on 5 separate days, with your roaming data disabled and no other activity, it’ll cost you a whacking great £30 because, simply by using your phone once, you’ve activated the £6 per day plan.
Whilst I applaud their unrestricted roaming speeds and 4G coverage, this all seems very unfair for those who are traditionally cost-conscious and believe that using your phone less should ..cost less.