“Relax when you’re on holiday with 3” — not flipping likely!

£1.28 per meg is really not that relaxing

Another newsletter in from Three this morning.

I commend the team on their communications strategy out to the masses — you see, often, operators are (righty) accused of being rather vague on their pricing strategies, especially when roaming is concerned (See Vodafone’s inexplicably complicated text).

Not Three though.

No, they’ve been entirely clear with their customers.

The only problem? It’s likely to ensure that the overwhelming majority switch their phones off at the airport.

– It will cost you 36.6p a minute to call home
– You will be charged 11.5p a minute if someone calls you
– While it is free for you to receive texts when abroad, it costs 10.2p to send them
– Data charges start at £1.28 per MB – that’s the equivalent of browsing 100 web pages

You’ll also get a free text alert for every £2.50 you spend on data. So if you’re uploading a few pictures to Facebook, expect to get about 10 text messages in a row.

It seems Three still hasn’t quite got the message on roaming. Whilst every other operator is deploying some kind of £2 or £3 for 25-ish megabytes per day, Three is holding fast to it’s policies.

Clearly, the Three roaming manager got a really, really bad deal the last time they sat down with the big european players.

My advice is pretty simple. Do a deal with the Abroadband team who charge €0.59 (£0.52) per megabyte across Europe. Indeed, Three, why don’t you re-sell access to Abroadband? Stick on 10 cents per megabyte margin for doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING and you know what, the cost will still be HALF the flipping price you are charging your customers.

Being open is one thing. Charging stupid prices is another.

At the MACH Insights Forum in Berlin a few months ago I was astonished when their CEO, Morten Brøgger, pointed out that operators’ own figures reveal a massive FORTY PERCENT of subscribers do not ever, EVER roam. To be clear, 40% of subscribers going abroad actually switch their phone off. So they don’t incur any bill shock.

This, unfortunately, is a really, really good policy if you’re a Three customer.

The £1.28 per meg fee is only for Europe. All bets are off once you fly west. America, for example, is a whopping £3 per megabyte. For some inane reason, so is Hong Kong. You know, Hong Kong? Hutchison Whampoa owns half of Hong Kong yet Three UK, it’s little British subsidiary is still knocking out megabytes to customers for £3 a meg.

Here’s the full text of the newsletter:

Dear Ewan,

We want you to feel in control when using your phone abroad.
Everyone knows that it costs more to use your phone on holiday. We’d like to keep you informed about our charges so that you feel confident and relaxed.

You’ll get a free text alert for every £2.50 you spend on data. To make sure you’re protected from big bills we’ve added a data roaming price cap of £43, so that you can enjoy using your phone whilst in the EU, confident that you won’t be facing unexpected charges when you get home.

With our clear roaming charges, you’ll know exactly what everything will cost before you go – no unwelcome surprises.

– It will cost you 36.6p a minute to call home
– You will be charged 11.5p a minute if someone calls you
– While it is free for you to receive texts when abroad, it costs 10.2p to send them
– Data charges start at £1.28 per MB – that’s the equivalent of browsing 100 web pages

If you’re using an iPhone, Android or Windows phone, your data roaming is automatically turned off when you leave the country. To find out how to switch it back on (and information on data roaming settings for all our other devices), visit Three.co.uk/dataroaming

So whether you want to find a restaurant, browse local attractions or simply check up on your flight home, it’s now easy, safe and manageable.

Have a great holiday.

The Three Team

And just a final note. 100 web pages = 1 megabyte? Where? When?

If you happen to use your iPhone to view this page (the Pay Monthly deals page) on Three.co.uk, you’ll use up 1.12 megabytes. So that’s a quid.

Click into the iPhone 4 product information page and that’s almost 400kb. Click on ‘Buy now’ and you’ve done another 400kb.

Perhaps Three.co.uk is free to browse when you’re abroad. I couldn’t find any information about that. Anyway, you get my point..

By the way, the reason Three cancelled the ‘3LikeHome’ roaming on their own networks abroad? Reader WeirdShanghai comments:

3 HK used to allow roaming from 3UK but cancelled it after loosing far to much money between exec units. Stupid but true.

  • The best deal I have heard about is here in Holland. T-mobile is charging 15euro (special offer 7.5 euro) for 100mb over 7 days and after that data is unlimited but speed is limited to 64k up/down. Prepaid or post paid the cost is the same. I used 230mb in a week with no extra charge and all I had at my campsite was edge. also possible to get 1 day/5MB for 1.95 (special 1euro) or 1day 50MB for 5 euro.
    I.E. That is less that 7.5 cents per MB!

  • Tony, that is a NICE find!

  • Hi Ewan, that 40% stat is indeed an interesting one – and pretty sensible of people, I’d say, given the overall extornionate prices and available alternatives for roaming. Also worth bearing in mind that less than 2% of all UK subscribers are responsible for 50% of the total roaming spend on data, calls and texts – http://bit.ly/ig4Tzp

    So overall the true roaming picture is much less about “scandalous bill shock” than about “scandalous underuse of a potentially extremely useful service due to high prices”. But, of course, the bill shock amongst the minority gets the headlines (as it should, to remind others to be more sensible and provoke EU to actually legislate, as they’ve done – finally). I’d expect that if the EU plan works and really reduces prices to acceptable levels, there will be a much greater volume of roaming activity that will more then cover the “lost revenue” due to excessively high roaming costs that the operators are moaning about.

  • very very good points, billmonitor!

  • Such a shame for Three. I remember the time years ago where you could browse whatever you like on their sister networks abroad – I used it tons in Italy paying not a single penny more. Then mobile browsing wasn’t sexy, so it’s all our fault for pushing the use of apps etc!! 😉

  • MarkW

    I’m loving O2’s Web Daily Europe tariff that it launched a couple of weeks ago – just before I was due to be out of the country for 10 days! While the set-up required CS intervention (rather than just the SMS activation it promised), which I got very efficiently via the O2 Twitter account, I can now turn on my data in Europe and be charged just £1.50 per day for 15MB. Even going over that won’t incur further charges apparently, as long as you don’t abuse it too often. My wife, by contrast, is on Three – so we left her data switched off.

  • Disqus generic email template Mark, that is absolutely fantastic. I really like the ‘don’t go crazy’ policy too, so you don’t need to worry about using, say 16mb or 17mb in a given day.

    *From*: Disqus [mailto:]
    *Sent*: Friday, August 05, 2011 04:53 AM
    *To*: em@mobileindustryreview.com *Subject*: [smstextnews] Re: “Relax when you’re on holiday with 3″ — not flipping likely!

    [image: DISQUS]

  • MarkW

    And just to update that, I’ve now checked my O2 account online; I used data whenever I wanted to, keeping on top of email, Twitter, FB and G+, as well as more than just a bit of browsing, and the extra   charge on my bill is £9.18. Compared to my previous costs, that’s a total win.

    PS – delighted to see the return of the MIR newsletter 🙂

  • That makes me seriously consider using my o2 sim when I’m in Europe. Good feedback Mark!

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