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EE and BT customers banned from roaming in the EU

EU legislation ensured roaming would cost no more than in the UK, so why are some customers unable to benefit?

From 15 June, UK residents have been able to use their phones in the EU as if they were still home, with no extra charges for using data, calls or texts – or ‘roam like at home.’ But some EE and BT customers have gone on their summer holidays and couldn’t roam at all.

BT and EE have placed three- to six-month roaming bans on any of its customers who failed credit checks when they applied, claiming this protects customers, even though additional charges when roaming are no longer allowed.

‘It’s our policy for new contract customers to undergo a credit check,’ said a BT spokesperson. ‘If a customer fails a credit check then we will introduce a bar for a period of six months, which is aimed at protecting both our customers and reducing our commercial risk.’

EE told us: ‘All of these options are in place to provide the greatest range of choice to all of our customers, even those who have had a poor credit history, as well as protecting them from further financial stress and us from fraud and the risk of bad debt.’

BT has said it will consider lifting the ban, but only for certain customers, and it didn’t go into what the criteria might be. Meanwhile, EE customers who failed their credit check are required to pay a £50 deposit and pay their bill on time for three months, at which point the deposit is refunded and the customer would be able to roam as normal.

While the new EU regulation is designed to help avoid unexpected bills in Europe, travelling further afield could still be expensive. We explain what you might have to pay with our guide – which mobile provider is best for holidays?

Are BT and EE breaking the rules?

Since BT and EE are not offering ‘roam like at home’ to customers with poor credit scores – whether in the EU or the rest of the world – they are not contravening the new regulation. As soon as the ability to roam is given, then the EU rules kick in and the consumers must be charged the same in other EU countries as they would at home.

However, BT and EE have not distinguished between EU roaming and ‘rest of world’ roaming despite the new regulations, which state that if a customer exceeds their data, text or minute allowance, then they will only need to pay the same out-of-bundle charges as if they were in the UK.

Our own research into EU roaming and international calls found these charges to be fairly low across most providers, so unless the out-of-bundle costs differ for customers on a failed credit contract then the risk of a huge bill may not be so great. Also, EE stops your data once you reach your limit anyway, which would further mitigate the risk of using too much data abroad.

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