Giffgaff customers may want to think twice before holidaying in tax havens such as the Channel Islands as new roaming charges will hike calls back to Blighty to £1 per minute – up from the current 0.5p rate.
From 14 June, the mobile virtual network operator will allow customers to roam in the EU and use their allowances as they do in the UK. That is to align with the European Commission's forthcoming "roam like at home" regulation.
However, the archipelago – along with other non-EU member states including the Isle of Man, Switzerland and Monaco – now falls within the higher "rest of world" roaming zone rate of £1 per minute to make and receive calls and 30p to text.
Those territories had previously been included in the same pricing tier as European Economic Area.
In response to one complaint on the community forum, a Giffgaff spokesperson wrote: "I know this isn't ideal for people who are going to areas that have increased in price, and I wish we didn't have to do that if I'm honest. Unfortunately the costs just don't add up otherwise. It's a very delicate balancing act between how much benefit people get and whether it's something we can sustain.
"One thing we looked at is introducing a new roaming pricing tier, for example, but the development time that would have taken would have put us past our June implementation deadline. That's something we want to focus on when we do that review."
Users remain unconvinced and took to the community forum to complain that the outcome was inadequate since the company knew the roaming changes would come into force for two years.
One member said: "If they won't listen now people will just walk. So much for the network run by you, not seen one positive comment about this hike... also what really made me angry was how it was hidden, all good news then under a spoiler, which it certainly was, this hidden clause."
Another said: "I'll definitely be turning my phone off when I visit home later this year."
And another: "I used to have two phones etc and it really isn't viable to waste time porting numbers back and forth... I need people to be able to contact me on the same number, as I'm self employed."
A Giffgaff spokeswoman said: "Unfortunately, because the Isle of Man, Guernsey, Jersey, Monaco and Switzerland are not classed as part of the EU, we cannot include them in our 'Roam Like at Home' offer, and have had to amend the current pricing structure.
"We will be reviewing usage of our members from launch, and in September will likely be making a few tweaks to our policy based on learnings through this period." ®