Yesterday I was singing the praises of Virgin Media for their super broadband speeds in my neighbourhood, but today after opening my mobile phone bill - it is a different feeling. While I was in the US earlier this month for a week I got charged a whopping €61.50 for usage while roaming. Knowing that it is expensive to roam, I had kept my mobile phone activity to a minimum (except in WiFi zones). I turned off data roaming, but crucially not until the day after I arrived. I did get a text message (see below) from Virgin Media on arrival warning me of their outrageous charges of €2.50/min calls and a whopping $7.00/MB of data. I've no argument with the calls and texts which amounted to a staggering €34.54 - I tried not to use the phone at all but this proved difficult on a family holiday. Despite turning data roaming off on my phone I got charged €26.96 for "Internet Usage while Roaming".
I called Virgin Media Technical Support to check this out, and sure enough - I did access the web on the morning of 8th January. For example, I got charged €2.55 at 00.16 am for 14 seconds, and €10.40 for 60 seconds only 10 minutes later. Outrageous! When I got home I turned data roaming back on and couldn't resist contacting Virgin Media on Twitter to ask "Why bother"?
Because Virgin Media don't have their own network I'm certain that they are at the mercy of Three who probably charge them a fortune for piggybacking on their network. I also got a great deal (including unlimited data in Ireland!) to join Virgin Media (€25/month) - so I can't complain too much. They could of course just be robbing us blind - but Richard Branson is not like that. I think?
I wonder when the people that sit down to work out the charges - what are they thinking? A business model where you charge an exorbitant fee for a service and warn customers not to use it, just doesn't make sense to me. I made a mistake - not turning off data roaming before I left Ireland. Clearly they like it when customers forget to do this - nice little earner!
Contrast the above €7.00/MB with my wife's service provider Vodafone (who I left to go to Virgin Media) - she had 200 MB a day for FREE!
Virgin Media customers - be warned: Don't use your phone abroad.