I just learned something very interesting on the phone with O2 here in the UK. I haven’t got any time to research it, but then I’m not suspicious that the guy would lie to me about this — if somebody can substantiate this with some pointers to relevant materials, that would be good though. The thing is this. O2 is selling data roaming packages, called O2 Data Abroad. They are paid monthly and they have a cap of X MB per month, as usual with rollover rules too complex to understand and all that stuff. Among others, there is a package called O2 Data Abroad 50, which costs GBP 42.55 plus VAT (of course, this may not be true anymore when you read this, but it’s accurate at the time of writing).
Now here’s the fun part: since July 2010 (that’s what the guy thought when it happened) there’s been a new European law in place that caps the price for pay as you go data roaming at GBP 40 a month. There’s a limit on the volume as well, which just happens to be 50MB. They charge volume at a price of GBP 3 or 6 per MB (depending on the country), but they can’t charge more than GBP 40 overall. I’m not clear on whether the 50MB is a hard cap (i.e. you can’t use any more data after that) or whether different rules apply when you get beyond that — that would be an interesting question to answer. But one thing seems to be obvious: if you pay more than GBP 40 a month for data roaming, get in touch with your provider, ask about it and cancel that package! And yes, for bundles like the O2 Data Abroad thing, they can of course still charge whatever they like. And do they contact existing customers of these overpriced packages and tell them about this? Do they $#*&. Even if you don’t pay as much for a monthly package, you may be better off not subscribing to it now… after all these monthly packages were always a mixed deal: pay for them every month in the hope of saving money in the long term.