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Passport when roaming? October 27, 2010

Posted by themobilephoneconnoisseur in Uncategorized.
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Vodafone and associated mobile operators offer a so called Passport price plan to be applied when roaming, i.e. when out travelling in other countries. It seems like an attractive offer, but is it really that great for European travelers?

If you are going outside of Europe, Passport is definitely a good idea, even though getting a local SIM card could often be an even better deal. If you are away for a day or two on a business trip within Europe you might want to reconsider Passport.

The structure of the Passport offer is that you pay a substantial setup fee/connection charge, typically around €1 (£0.75p) for every call. On top of that, you add your “regular” charges that apply when in your home country to make and receive calls. Some offers also have a structure of adding the setup fee every 20 or 30 minutes. This might look like a great deal at first, but if you for example are trying to reach somebody who is busy and has his phone directed to voicemail after a few seconds, five attempts will cost you €5 and you have not even come through. Even worse is that if you turn off your phone, each voicemail diverted call will still be debited a €1 setup fee/connection charge.

Also, some service providers do not use your included minutes in the “regular charges”, and actually charge as if you had passed your included/bundled minutes.

After a trip to London a few years ago, I came home with a fairly substantial bill for calls and then started to look at what the actual rate per minute was, and concluded it was more expensive (in my case) to call with Passport.

In order to not get the maximum EU roaming charges applied, you are required to have a separate and explicit agreement with your service provider about this. Passport is one of those explicit agreements, and thereby it is ok for your provider to charge you more than the regulated EU-rates, i.e. not a guarantee that you will have a lower rate.

As mentioned a few weeks ago here on this blog, you should watch out for those calls that are not to your home country or within the country you are visiting, they are charged at a different, often bizarre, tariff.

A final piece of advice is make sure you actually are on the right mobile network, as when you are roaming, you can make calls effortless on other mobile networks than Vodafone’s associated networks. Making a call or receiving one on the wrong network can be very expensive, especially outside Europe. 10-20 minutes calls at €2/minute on the wrong network can become quite a pain if you make just one call per day, that’s €1200 in a month…

To conclude, if you plan to make 10-20 minute calls and very few short calls, Passport could be a great option within Europe. For example when going away for a business trip for 1-3 days and then calling home each night. But watch out for being on the road with Passport and making regular shorter calls, and never use it to call to any other country than home or locally.

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