|low graphics version | feedback | help|
|You are in: Talking Point|
Wednesday, 18 July, 2001, 10:04 GMT 11:04 UK
Are mobile phones a rip-off?
European Union regulators are continuing their investigation into five British mobile phones firms as part of a huge price-fixing probe.
EC competition officials said they were investigating claims of collusion in prices charged to customers who use their mobile phones abroad.
Charges for so-called roaming calls, those involving the sharing of operators' networks, are unclear and seem unrelated to the cost of a call, an EU spokesman said.
People often find on their return from holidays abroad that they have unexpectedly large phone bills.
Are mobile phones a rip-off? Do they charge too much for international calls? Have you been caught out?
This Talking Point has now closed. read a selection of your comments.
John Gant, UK
I bought my mobile so that my children could call me in an emergency and so that when I had to travel long distances I could phone for help rather than leave the car. I will take my phone on holiday for the same reason, but if I want to call somebody from abroad I will use a pay phone. Maybe if people did the same the mobile firms who do charge extortionate rates would have to whistle for their revenue or become more competitive. People seem to forget we are the customer, the service is meant to suit us not vice versa
Yes calls are expensive but what do you expect.
I have a pay as you go phone and it hardly costs me anything because I hardly use it. Yes I top it up, probably every six weeks, but I don't start ringing all my mates up just because it's there.
Instead of moaning, check out the latest tariffs.
If you find the price too high then use it less, use a payphone or wait until you get home and use a fixed line which is cheaper. Nobody is forcing you to buy or use a phone, and personally I wish a lot fewer people had them as they are a constant annoyance in buses, trains, parks, just about everywhere.
Phil J, UK
Those criticising the government for "ripping off" the mobile companies for the 3G licences should remember two things:
(1) Nobody is compelled to own a mobile phone. If you're terminally fashion conscious, gadget addicted or too important to use an ordinary phone then that's your problem, not ours.
(2) The money raised went towards the National debt, and your taxes are that much lower as a consequence.
Philip S. Hall, England
I have been working in a mobile phone shop for almost 2 years and in my opinion, cross-network call charges are way too high! It is impossible to call people without "cross-networking" as so many people have mobiles.
Personally I dislike mobile phones for a number of reasons including those of health and safety. However I do spend some of my time in Germany and I need to be accessible to a small number of people. My solution is to use a UK SIM whilst at home and a German SIM when in Germany. Only the people who need my mobile numbers have them. My calls are filtered at home anyway so that my work is not disturbed unnecessarily, and only important calls are passed on me. This system works great for me, and I don't incur those expensive roaming charges. My advice is that if you don't like paying the extortionate charges, just re-evaluate why you want the mobile in the first place.
Robin Johnson, Australia
Calls on mobile phones in the UK are one of the few cheap things there. Try the US where they charge you for incoming and outgoing calls. Also the phone only works when you're on the highway as its the only place the companies put cells.
It is a rip-off to use a mobile whilst abroad, and I hope the EU manage to do something about this. Another thing that is a rip-off is how much it costs to call a rival mobile network, at 30-50p per minute regardless of the network, it is possible that there is something dodgy here as well.
Richard Greaves, UK
The acquisition of a life drastically reduces telephone bills. If you use the mobile for emergencies rather than for vacuous babble or txtng yr m8s, it won't be all that expensive. Yes, they are ripping you off, but only because you want them to.
I'd say the EU would be do better if they looked into the cost of Euro MPs. At about £1 million a throw I think they are a much greater rip-off than mobiles and to boot we get pretty little return for our money.
Who cares? We don't need mobile phones, so what does it matter how much a luxury item costs?
We can do away with all modern life's extravagant little toys. Try it someday. You'd be amazed by your exciting new lifestyle - free of brands and colour coordinates and other marketing kack. Get a life and learn to live it slowly.
Bert Smee, UK
My mobile phone isn't a rip off, for slightly more then I would pay monthly for connection to a BT landline I get 1000 free off-peak minutes a month. My bill rarely goes above the price of connection as I avoid daytime calls, sending 100s of text messages and roaming. Some mobile phone services are a rip off but you are not forced to use them.
People in the UK shouldn't complain about the price of their mobile calls. Here on the Isle of Man the cost of making calls is up to four times that of the cost of UK operators and with roaming charges you can treble that!
If the person you are calling is abroad, all you need is to have a recorded message that tells you that the person you are calling is overseas and if you do not wish to accept the extra charge you should terminate the call immediately - that 's what I got when I recently called a national rate call on my mobile. Why can't it be used for international calls as well?
Van Dieu, London, UK
It is easy to compare prices at a number of high-street outlets who have lists of all the available tariffs from all the operators. It is also fair that the mobile owner pays the international part of the call, since the caller has no way of knowing where you might be at the time. I don't understand why it costs so much for international calls. In the US the mobile phone numbers look the same as standard geographic ones, so you can't even tell you're calling a mobile. There the mobile user pays for incoming calls anyway! My only gripe against the phone companies is the cost of making calls from abroad.
Adam Baker, United Kingdom
It is text messages that are hugely overpriced. It takes me about two seconds for the sms to send from my phone yet costs me 10p, the same amount for 5 minutes (300 seconds) of off-peak calls. The bandwidth required to sms is much, much less than voice too so companies must be making an extraordinary profit from them and still have the cheek to set a limit to how much we can write!
Thinking back over the years when there was no such convenient item as a mobile phone, the only alternative available was the public 'phone boxes which were often broken, usually smelly, OR busy. Mobile phones go one step further and allow people to be contacted. I have a mobile, but would give it up in an instant if it wasn't worth the money I pay for it.
However much they charge they are saints compared with the rip off state which has already taken billions of pounds from 3rd generation phone users and will give then nothing in return.
All telecoms in the UK are overpriced, mobiles doubly so.
Phone plans in the UK are a real rip off. When the phone companies realise how many more customers they could reach by making it cheaper they will do so. I'm paying 40 USD (about 25 GBP)a month for 1000 minutes of anytime/anywhere minutes.. I use the cell phone more than the one at home because it's a better deal and I get the convenience of alpha paging, voicemail and internet. When you're paying 25p for a minute of airtime whether or not you instigated the call you are really getting ripped off. There is a real opportunity in the UK for a better cell phone service, and when that happens all the greedy little companies will go belly up, and it will serve them right.
Yes, mobile phone charge is very high in Europe. Ironically, it is cheaper to make a UK call to (or from) North America or the Far East than to make a similar call to (or from) Europe. I am sure there is price fixing somewhere between phone companies within the EU.
I've spent 6 of the past 11 weekends in Europe and was pleasantly surprised when I got my mobile bill in.
Many of the text messages I'd sent back to the UK were 5p (less than when I do it from the UK!) and my longest received call for 5 minutes was only 40p.
Prices too high? Pity the Government didn't think of that when they took their 22-billion-pound windfall tax, the so-called 3G auction.
One weekend in Dublin (making a receiving a few calls a day) was enough to triple my monthly bill. Does this really represent value for money?
Inland calls are still more expensive than fixed lines. Calling non-geographical numbers is over-priced (20p/min for an 0870 for instance). I am with Orange, so making international calls from my phone within the UK is cheap, but making and receiving calls while abroad is horribly overpriced. When I am abroad I divert my phone to my home phone, so I can pick up any voice messages in my own time rather than spending anything up to £1.20/min to try and tell someone why I can't talk at the moment.
I think it might be said that paying a mobile phone company to microwave your mind could be considered a rip-off, yes.
I have a pay-as-you-go phone. If I call my home landline right now it will cost me 25p per minute, yet on the weekend I can make a call from my home phone to my mobile for 2p a minute. What consumers want to know is what makes the one over twelve times more expensive than the other?
I recently needed to make holiday arrangements in Italy and my phone would have cost me one pound fifty a minute. A friend's phone with a monthly plan was 18p a min for the same call. If you relate that to other goods it is like paying twelve pounds for a supermarket sandwich or over six pounds a litre for petrol - you would never get away with it.
Since someone in their wisdom insisted that phone numbers be portable across networks you can't even tell what, or even if, you will be charged. A number that used to be a Vodafone may now be with Orange. If someone else on Vodafone calls that number, do they get charged for a cross-network call (ie about 40p/min) or is the call free, since it looks like it should be Vodafone?
I think the whole model is wrong. Why should the person receiving the call be charged the international portion of the call? This just hides the cost and allows the operators to do what they are doing. Would it not be better if, when you call a mobile that is abroad, you get a message that says, "This mobile is currently abroad. To connect it will cost you 50p a minute. Please stay on the line if you wish to connect"? Then the charges would be known up front and the whole problem of lack of competition and price fixing would be over.
Andy Millward, UK
In order to remain competitive and pay for the 3G licences, some "agreements" have had to be made. I wouldn't be surprised if the big 5 companies have not colluded on a pricing arrangement to "stabilise" both profitability and the market.
CNS, Durham, England
I wish there would be a bit more
competition on the price of calling
a mobile phone from a landline. This
is where the real rip-off is.
Roaming charges hit the people who can
afford it most - businesses. If you're
on holiday, switch roaming off or get a
life and leave your phone at home.
If the price of roaming goes down - it will
mean higher prices for calls at your
home network - they have to make their margins
I can't believe it's taken so long for regulators to realise this. They must travel Europe, a quick check of their bills would expose this rip-off. If I am in England and someone else in England calls my Dutch number we both pay for an international call. They pay the call to The Netherlands and I pay for a call back. If the providers expect me to believe that they are really routing my call over two international trunks they must think me a fool. Sort this out now, and after this check out the charges for SMS. 10p for sending the same amount of information as you do when you turn your phone on? Rip-off.
It's not so much that the prices are too high (which I believe is true), it's that they don't tell you how much you will be charged to receive a call when you're travelling abroad! The info might be there in the small print, but they should be forced to make it more obvious that everyone loses out on international mobile calls!
11 Jul 01 | Business
EU raids mobile phone firms
11 Jul 01 | Business
What is international roaming?
27 Apr 00 | Business
Mobiles: Will consumers pay the price?
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Other Talking Points:
Links to more Talking Point stories
|^^ Back to top
News Front Page | World | UK | UK Politics | Business | Sci/Tech | Health | Education | Entertainment | Talking Point | In Depth | AudioVideo
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy