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Tesco Mobile UK Does U-turn to Reintroduce EU Roaming Fees

Tuesday, June 21st, 2022 (7:55 am) - Score 4,656
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Customers of mobile operator Tesco Mobile have been left shocked and disappointed after the operator quietly updated their Terms & Conditions on 16th June 2022, which means that new or upgrading subscribers will no longer be able to benefit from free EU roaming – effective from 1st January 2023.

The operator had initially said that it wouldn’t follow the rest of the market by scrapping free EU roaming, which seemed like a viable commitment because they are an O2 (VMO2) based Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO). As most people may already know, O2 are currently the only primary operator to buck the trend and make a solid commitment to retain free EU roaming.

Customers who joined before 16th June 2022 will continue to benefit from free EU roaming, although this will change as soon as they need to upgrade their plan. Meanwhile, those who joined or upgraded after 16th June will soon face additional EU roaming charges of 10p per MegaByte of data (mobile broadband), 20p per text (SMS) message and 55p per minute for calls (i.e. the same standard out-of-allowance rates as you’d pay in the UK).

Tesco have also updated all of the mobile plans on their website to now only promise “EU Roaming for 2022.”

A Tesco Mobile Spokesperson said:

“For the rest of the year all customers will continue to get free roaming in the EU and beyond, in 48 Home From Home destinations. We’re committed to providing our customers with great value, in a way that only a supermarket can. The 2023 changes allow us to invest in new offers for Tesco shoppers, at a time we know household budgets are under increasing pressure.”

Interestingly, Tesco told a number of people via Twitter that they’re “currently exploring ways to give customers simple and great value connectivity while travelling” (e.g. other operators have adopted set roaming charges of £2 per day), although the details of this aren’t expected to follow until “later this year“.

Operators would normally sort these things out BEFORE making such a change, which could suggest that they weren’t originally expecting to be placed into this position. Suffice to say, we can’t help but wonder whether this is a potentially ominous indication that O2 could be preparing to make a similar change (right now they’re still committed to free roaming).

We’ll also keep a close eye on VMO2’s other MVNO partner giffgaff, while Sky Mobile has already started to charge for EU roaming.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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35 Responses
  1. Chicken Legs says:

    Quelle surprise! Not.

  2. Phil says:

    Oh dear me!

  3. Dan says:

    @Mark

    Sky Mobile started charging for EU roaming at the start of May.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      Updated, thanks.

  4. NE555 says:

    Only £100 per gigabyte? Every little helps!

  5. Cardiffian says:

    “Customers who joined before 16th June 2022 will continue to benefit from free EU roaming, although this will change as soon as they need to upgrade their plan.”

    I am currently on TM. Does this mean that when my SIM only contract ends I have to upgrade? With other contracts you can simply leave it as it is when your contract runs out and stay on the same plan/roaming benefits etc. Thanks.

    1. Billy Goat Gruff says:

      chances are you will stay on your current plan on a monthly rolling contract once you have completed your minimum term but there’s no guarantee. But the point to remember is that once you’re out of contract then Tesco can (and will) force you to change plans at some point in future. In other words, your current plan won’t last forever.

  6. Mike says:

    Just buy a local sim once you get over there, many phones are dual sim now.

    1. Dan says:

      Or pay your network’s daily roaming charge. But either way, you’re now paying for something you didn’t have to pay for before.

    2. An Engineer says:

      If it’s not included in a roaming bundle buying a local SIM is definitely the way to go.

      Usually get much better data performance as well as far superior pricing.

    3. Anonymous says:

      It’s not so much the cost of buying a local sim but instead it’s the potential hassle involved getting and using one. It’s not uncommon to end up arriving at 1am at your destination airport and then after collecting your luggage spending an hour in the queue to buy a local sim at the airport newsagents or mobile operators kiosk. And then 2 days later you’ve ran out out of mins/data so when you try to top up using your UK card your bank blocks it. And when you try to call your Uk bank you find out they’re not open at the time given the time difference.

    4. Dan says:

      @ An Engineer

      That may be so, but the idea that the workaround to prevent having to pay your network to use your phone in the EU, is to pay a different network to use your phone in the EU, is a bit silly.

      Add to that the various disadvantages of doing that. Calls and texts back to the UK might not be included with your foreign SIM, incoming calls to your UK SIM (in a dual SIM scenario) will either cost you, or won’t get through if you’ve set a spend cap on your account. If your phone isn’t dual SIM, you may not even know about people back home trying to reach you on your UK number.

    5. Mike says:

      You could pay £2 for first day until you get a local sim, topup with local currency or tell your bank in advance so it doesn’t get blocked or use a decent bank that allows you to approve transactions in the app, also performance on local sims is generally far superior to roaming, as for calls/text, use one of the many online voice/chat services instead.

    6. Dan says:

      Yeah, you’re right Mike. If we just ignore the additional expense and the various hoops we’d need to jump through, we’re really no worse off than when we had inclusive EU roaming.

    7. Mike says:

      I’ve personally never had any issues, left the airport, went to the hotel, went to the local supermarket and bought a SIM, had to show drivers license and fill out a little form, topped up, get full speeds, no problem, always considered roaming a secondary option even back when it was included for free.

    8. Steve says:

      I’ve just recently found airalo – its an app you install on your phone and if your phone supports esim you can buy a data pack for a reasonable price and saves any hassle of going to a shop. I paid £5/day for roaming last time I was in turkey, with this I can buy 10Gig for $18 using the app and install the sim before I even get out of the airport.

  7. Mike80 says:

    Going the other way, O2 Germany are only currently committing to free roaming in the UK until the end of 2022.

  8. Richie Rich says:

    Oh no, the horrors of having to pay £2 a day.
    I notice three are still selling some go roam thing. But im not sure if it’s included or not.

  9. Michael says:

    Of course they were going to. O2 will eventually do it to.
    Roaming won’t stay free.

    For those with dual SIM phones will start buying local SIM cards from there they visit our find the cheapest UK MVNO.

  10. Optimist says:

    I think this is perfecly reasonable. When roaming had to be included (not “free” of course, nothing is) those that didn’t require it had to pay for it anyway. Now, customers can choose the tariff that suits them.

    1. Mark says:

      Errrr no. Prior to leaving EU pretty much every plan (except Vodafone Basics) included EU roaming – whether you used it or not. You didn’t pay less because you had no intention of travelling to EU neither did you pay more because you were a frequent traveller to EU.

      This feature wasn’t provided out of mobile operators generosity but because of EU regulations, ie UK mobile operators were forced to. Now that we’ve left the EU, UK mobile operators are no longer bound by EU law. Hooray!

  11. Kieran says:

    GiffGaff has just today announced a 75% reduction in inclusive roaming from 20GB to 5GB and reduced rates of 10P/MB beyond that, instead of 0.36MB from late July, and they also use O2 so they are definitely back tracking on EU roaming staying free.

    1. Iain says:

      Yikes, that’s a huge reduction.

  12. JP says:

    I said many months back that anybody thinking they would avoid reintroduction of EU roaming charges would be mistaken.

    And the next stage will be where they start moving those out of contract onto the new plans to enforce new terms and conditions.

    1. Mark says:

      Yep those on legacy contracts will sooner or later be forced to change plans if they want to stay with the same operator or asked to leave.

  13. Phil says:

    That’s brexit reason for this

    1. Yatta! says:

      “IT’S NOTHING TO DO WITH BREXIT” scream the Brexcultists.

  14. Steve says:

    This bloody awful EU red tape, who do they think they are trying to get fair deals for consumers? I demand good old fashioned British rip off data fees!

  15. Kyle Burns says:

    I’d like to know if Tesco Mobile UK will continue tariff-free roaming in the Republic of Ireland, which many mobile operators (many already reintroduced roaming fees) are currently offering? If they don’t announce Ireland to be exempt from the changes, this will frustrate people living in the border areas of Ireland.

    Couple of tips for people travelling abroad, download ‘WiFi Map’ which is an app listing passwords of public WiFi’s and you can download an area on Google Maps to your phone.

    https://support.google.com/maps/answer/6291838

  16. JP says:

    Has anybody actually looked at the costs for EU mobile customers to roam in the UK.

    I just looked at Movistar in Spain and the rates and limits where eye watering.

  17. David says:

    Oh, so they can change their terms and conditions at will when it suits them despite making promises they cant uphold and we all have to tag along and swallow it with seemingly no recourse…..if they werent the cheapest operator with the best coverage (for us) we’d be off……oh, I forgot, I cant do that can I until my contract ends because I am a lowly customer …a loyal customer with three contracts as I have been for over 5 years

  18. Rob says:

    I predict that all the UK operators will have abolished free roaming in the EU just in time for the ETIAS permit fees to be introduced in May 2023. Something else to look forward to.

  19. Ryan says:

    Joined Lebara. No EU roaming caps. I believe O2 has no caps too.

  20. An Engineer who voted brexit and doesn't belittle the users on this forum. says:

    Everyone who screams waaah it was bwexit:

    How was it three had EU (and many other countries) before it was EU law? And how is it that my friend from Germany only gets 2GB out of his unlimited allowance when he comes to visit? Doesn’t seem worth it to me.

    1. Billy says:

      “How was it three had EU (and many other countries) before it was EU law?”

      Because that was a purely 100% commercial decision by Three, in other words they could withdraw it at any time without any consequences prior to being EU law. After it became EU law and whilst the UK was a member, Three couldn’t withdraw it. Its that simple.

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