Mobile roaming charges on the Channel ferry

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My 14 year old son just came back from a school trip to the UK. His data stopped on the way there and didn't return. I checked with WinSIM, and they said it was because he had racked up a huge amount of costs using data. The total so far is about €350. Apparently the normal European 'roam like your at home' doesn't apply on a boat or aeroplane, which I suppose is fair enough. However, it would appear that the phone has automatically connected to the ferry's network which seems a little unfair as one minute he was connected to a French provider and I suppose he assumed it would then connect to a UK provider. I have checked through his SMSs and can't find any of the normal warnings about the costs when connecting to a network, like you usually get when you enter a different country. In any case, he said that he saw that they had free Wi-Fi on the ferry, so he connected to that. 

 
It seems like a bit of a swindle. There should be a clearer hoops to jump through to make sure you understand what the costs are going to be. I might have to park a boat in the English channel with a big fat antenna and scoop up telephone connections as they pass in the ferries.

 

If anyone has any experience, please share. Otherwise, be wary next time you are on the ferry.

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11 minutes ago, robinson100 said:

ouch!

Yes ... that was very much what it felt like. I used other words though.

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If I was you I would write to the service provider and tell them that no warnings were received about roaming charges which is a legal requirement.  As such, then your son assumed that he was connected to a terrestrial network as the crossing is very short.

If such a warning had been received then your son knows to disconnect.

 

Therefore, as no warnings were received then the charges should not be applied.

 

 

It might not work, but it is worth a try.

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While I have every sympathy with you

 

WINsim, states here https://www.winsim.de/eu-postpaid, that ships are not covered with the general flat

 

You need to check what "Sie finden diese Preisliste in Ihrer Servicewelt unter „Mein Vertrag / Tarifdetails" to see if there are any exceptions or inclusions that may help.

 

Its the sort of thing that I would happen to me as well, but at the moment, all you can do is check in Mein Vertrag ..., or beg then to let you off, because you did not understand and it was your son - - then just wait and see what happens.

 

Might be worth while checking with your legal insurance, providing you have it.

 

I am sure its legal for them to exclude ships, while in EU waters.

 

 

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12 minutes ago, yesterday said:

I am sure its legal for them to exclude ships, while in EU waters.

 

It is. But fuck me, I didn't even know this was a thing. So what's the deal? You will automatically join a ship's network and suddenly be liable to huge costs? Not even a wifi network, an actual mobile network?

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In addition to the WinSim terms and conditions, it's very likely that the charges were posted somewhere on the ship. Just because there's a WiFi network doesn't necessarily mean it's free.

 

Nonetheless, it's a really crappy situation for you, of course, but you might be able to get out of it based on the fact that your (minor) son incurred the charges. If you don't have legal insurance, you should book an appointment with your local Verbraucherzentrale (which will cost around €35), which can advise you on how to proceed.

 

If it's any consolation, I remember reading a story a few years ago about how a guy was on a cruise ship in port in Florida and accidentally logged on to the ship's network instead of the land network. He watched the Super Bowl on his phone and ended up with a five-figure charge - which was eventually refunded.

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if he were charged for the wifi network, wouldn't that have to be paid to the ship operator?

 

I thought the cellular network switched without warning, remained connected, and racked up a bunch of essentially third party charges billed via his normal provider (winsim), oder?

 

this is a large part of the reason I do prepaid only, no data.  I know it's uncommon nowadays but I just remember friends and family getting slammed with huge 1k or more cellphone bills back in the old days...shudder.

 

 

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My brother also had to pay like €70 extra on a ferry to Mallorca. It was making different satellite connections all the time if I understood correctly. Luckily, his wife and children switched off their mobiles completely. 

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The resellers (winsim, klarmobile, ...) are not breaking any rules but do seem to grab pennies when they can. Wife and I travelled through Switzerland my telephone (vodafone SIM) informed me and did not automatically connect (even though I leave roaming turned on, which is needed to use phone in France, UK, ...); My wife's phone connected automatically (klarmobile SIM) and charged her 50€ for one day internet! There are also restrictions on her tariff on things like tethering to a computer, ...

 

These resellers do, at first glance, seem to offer a nice 5€ saving per month over the providers (vodafone, t-mobile, ...) but they seem to charge higher costs at every opportunity.

 

If/When Brexit kicks in I am sure the resellers will NOT cover mobiles in UK whilst the providers will probably continue to do so - or at least politely inform customers of the change at some point in the future.

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The mobile operators only implemented EU roaming because they were forced to do so by the European Commission, and some of the cheapo minnows try to dodge it anyway.

 

If Brexit really happens, you can bet your ass that EU roaming privileged will be revoked.

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I haven't heard of a similar case in the UK to that which was mentioned by @franklan, but that certainly looks like a good starting point for demanding your cash back from a German provider.

As someone who takes the cross channel ferry frequently, sadly I can confirm that the costs are common and in the UK has been deemed lawful as the area is not covered by the EU roaming area. After being stung once I have just got into the habit of turning my phone off for the trip. From what I can tell (based on texts I have received - but which are easy not to notice, or to ignore), the provider is not the ship, but an independent signal/provider. They used to send texts to let you know when you had connected and what the charges were. 

Of course, if it is a DFDS, P&O or Britannia service (which does not sound likely), then I would have thought you could get help from a consumer group. Britannia offer free wifi but you need to connect to it, otherwise you will automatically connect to one of the scam rates.

 

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Thanks for the suggestions. So far I have asked for evidence of how much was used and when so I can cross reference to his mobile phone. I will then persue evidence that they actually sent a warning sms which, as mentioned before, I can find no evidence of. 

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Hi

 

This actually recently happened to me on a ferry to Sardinia. I got stung with around Eur 375 and had no clue. The first thing I knew was that my data didn't work when we disembarked the next day. 

 

My phone provider emailed me a few days later saying they would reduce it to Eur 95 but don't do it again. Which I thought was fair enough. 

 

Like you there was no warning on the ship about connecting to offshore network. 

 

I'd suggest appealing to your phone provider. 

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@nsuffield

 

You are aware that there is a ceiling for Data charges with Winsim, once the account reaches €59.50 they will block it and send an SMS.

 

Quote

 

Gilt das „Kostenlimit für Datenverbindungen” weiterhin?

Ja, das Kostenlimit für Datenverbindungen (maximal 59,50 € pro Monat) ist weiterhin gültig. Bei Erreichen des Limits erfolgt zu Ihrer Sicherheit eine Sperre. Weitere Infos erhalten Sie in diesem Fall per SMS von uns - zum Beispiel, wie Sie auf Wunsch die Karte wieder entsperren können.

 

 

The SMS you receive are from 2 different sources

 

This is the first from 'Tarif Info'

 

5d405eb4c7857_TarifInfo.jpg.6a0b7c878bc1

 

This is the second from 'winSIM'.

winSim.jpg.e5aac408dc596d228dd51325daa1c

 

Hope that helps.

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This EU roaming seems to be causing a lot of confusion and grief. I am currently fighting a €160 charge by 1&1 for 8 MB of data when I was travelling in Iceland. They say Iceland roaming is free for me, but I probably connected to some cruise ship network (which I never used). They still haven't been able to provide me the exact details. And I did not receive any sms about connecting to a ship network.

 

Based on @franklan's link it would be possible to fight this. But I don't have legal insurance & might be tough to fight this without a lawyer. Hopefully they sort it out soon.

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I have finally received the itemised connection breakdown and it does tie up ... but €300 for 11Mb would be very easy to do it you forget to disable your data roaming when boarding a ship!

The €59 ceiling only applies within EU I think. Boats are not included if I recall. Very convenient. I am now asking them to provide proof that they sent a warning sms, which I am sure that they didn't send. I'm not sure if it's Winsim or the ferry operators fault.

Does anyone know if it is possible to make a complaint to the 'Bundesnetzagentur für Elektrizität, Gas, Telekommunikation, Post und Eisenbahnen'? I expect I won't get any joy from Winsim. 

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