Expat fury as 'increasing' roaming phone charges risks expats being 'disconnected'


Living abroad has become more difficult than ever for Britons who wish to relocate to another country post-Brexit. Besides new requirements and visa changes, there is a new major issue: increasing roaming charges.

The major UK mobile operators, including EE, Three and Vodafone, announced they were bringing back phone charges for customers who travel to Europe.

The reintroduction of these controversial charges is mostly affecting British expats who find themselves facing huge bills every month.

Nigel Ayres, an expat living in Spain and founder of the Expat Network, warned the new changes make it almost impossible to keep the UK number abroad and warned Britons might get “disconnected” soon.

“We wanted to retain our UK number but we get increasing charges due to Brexit and their ‘fair use’ policy on calls from Spain,” Nigel explained.

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“When we moved to Spain we took out a monthly contract with O2 having said that we were getting it to use in Spain.

“We made it clear we were moving there and there was no mention of a fair usage policy.

“We have not used the phone very much as we got a Spanish phone for Spanish calls.

“Recently they have introduced new charges, limited the data available on our plan and imposed a charge of £3.50/GB for any excess over the reduced data allowance.”

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Nigel explained that although UK mobile providers give you the option to terminate the contract early, he warned companies will have the right to leave customers “disconnected” from next year while travelling abroad.

“From the beginning of 2022, expats risk having their mobile phone disconnected from the UK.

“Due to the fair usage policies UK networks have introduced, in which networks have the right to suspend your account depending on your mobile usage; if used exclusively to receive calls, or exceeding the usage limit.

“I understand that many expats have received surcharges for going over the fair usage limit specific to their UK network,” he explained.

“We decided to close our monthly account and transfer our number to a Pay As You Go SIM.

“We purchased PAYG SIMs but were told we had been wrongly advised in the shop and could not activate it from Spain.

“In the UK, we were told we would be able to activate it when we got back to Spain.

“However, when we tried to do so, we were told we could not activate it from Spain,” he explained.

Nigel recommended an alternative for those planning to relocate soon.

“I found a new service, Xpatfone, that for a low monthly charge, allows me to keep my UK number, receive text and verification codes from banks etc via an App on my phone.

“When we tried to arrange a PAC Code to close the O2 account after the usual 25 minutes waiting they got me to send a text seeking a PAC code.

“The system would not accept texts from Spain and so after another call they sent me the PAC code direct,” he explained.



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