Tesco Mobile has become the latest network to abolish free roaming across the EU for new customers, as more mobile providers take advantage of Brexit to charge customers steep fees for calls and data.
The network is set to revive EU roaming charges for new and upgrading customers from 2023, with consumers set to be charged up to 10p per MB to use data and 55p a minute to call from the EU outside of bundles.
Tesco Mobile is still selling 24-month contracts online with the prominently-advertised benefit of “free roaming for 2022” – even though small print slipped into contracts earlier this week stipulates roaming charges will apply from 1 January 2023.
Roaming costs while travelling between European Union states are forbidden by an EU directive, but the charges have made a comeback for UK customers since Brexit – with networks including EE, Three and Vodafone all taking advantage by reinstating steep data and call charges for customers who don’t purchase specific roaming bundles.
An internal announcement from Tesco Mobile seen by i states: “Customers who join, or upgrade on or after 16 June 2022 will no longer receive Home From Home from 2023.
“Tesco Mobile are continuing to look at ways to give customers simple and great value roaming bundles, and the 2023 changes allow us to invest in new offers for Tesco shoppers, at a time we know household budgets are under increasing
It adds that consumers “won’t be able to use their monthly mins, texts and data or UK bundles within the 48 Home From Home destinations and roaming charges will apply”.
Consumers on pre-existing contracts will still be able to access free roaming in 2023, provided they do not upgrade them.
An employee unhappy about the change told i that Tesco Mobile staff had previously been urged to promote free roaming as a “unique selling point” to draw in customers. They added: “None of us workers were made aware that was this even being considered beforehand. Neither have we actually been given a reason for this change, so we cannot even explain probably to our customers.”
The worker added that the change has “not been adequately communicated to customers” – with no public announcement beyond “a small, optional readout at checkout when customers are buying a phone online”.
The internal announcement of the change was deemed “strictly confidential”.
The Home from Home page on the Tesco website has also been amended, to specify: “For the rest of 2022, no extra charges in Europe and beyond.”
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.”