Monday, 11 March 2013

Expensive Phone Calls?

There'll be roaming charges over the White Cliffs of Dover

The White Cliffs of Dover may be an enduring symbol of England, but according to telecoms firms they are French. Mobile phone users are falling subject to French pricing when they wish to walk along the beach.

elecoms firms are charging users of a beach in Kent as if they were the other side of the Channel.
Residents of the tiny seaside village of St Margaret's-at-Cliffe have to turn off their mobiles to avoid being hit with international roaming charges when they walk along the beach.
The resort, sitting on top of the chalk-covered cliffs immortalised by Vera Lynn's wartime song, is the closest place in Britain to the French coastline, just 18 miles away from Calais.
Locals and tourists alike say they cannot walk along the iconic cliffs without being sent a message saying 'Welcome to France' with a list of hiked charges.
These start at 28 pence to make a call, 7.9 pence to receive one and 8.9 pence to send a text, up to four times the price of a normal English network.
Pat Kelly, 62, of nearby Martin-Mill, said: "You switch on your phone and it says 'welcome to France'. I avoid the cliff area now because of the problem.
"Everyone has good cause to be angry about it and something needs to be done.
"Visitors to the area are unaware of it and are shocked when their bills come in."
Foreign companies such as Orange F, SFR and Itineris warn of the potential charges when English mobile-users switch on but there is nothing that can be done to avoid them.
Mobile signals travel only in straight lines and the majestic cliffs, made famous by Vera Lynn's wartime song, block out any English network.
There is a mast in St Margaret's, with a population of 2,500 people, and there are many more in nearby Dover but the beach area remains firmly in French hands.
Locals even talk of rows between couples when one partner discovers French numbers on their bills after receiving the text messages.
Perry Mercer, of estate agents Marshall and Clarke in St Margaret's said: "It can be funny though when some think their partners are having affairs with someone in France when they get their bills. It has happened."
Unsuspecting users turn on their devices to be greeted by the following message: "Welcome to France.
"It will cost £0.288/min to make and £0.079/min to receive calls. Send texts for £0.089 each and picture messages for £0.30 each or with a Euro Booster you can get up to 26 mins of calls or 85 texts to the UK for just £5.
"Internet Browsing costs £1.50 per Mb and is excluded from UK allowances and remember this is capped so you never pay more than £4 per day."
Nigel Wydymus, 53, who owns the Coastguard pub on the beach, said customers avoided his pub because they feared being charged for data roaming.
"Tourists who come down from London to see the White Cliffs are the ones who find it most annoying. They sit there with their iPhones and are shocked to receive a foreign signal when they still in England."
A spokesman for EE, who cover T-Mobile and Orange, said: "We advise our customers to switch off roaming while they are in this little pocket of an area to ensure that they are connecting to the correct network."
An O2 spokesperson said: "Owing to the geographical location of St Margaret's-at-Cliffe, sometimes a strong signal from a French network can travel over the flat expanse of water of the Channel."

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