The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) began an investigation of 12 complaints regarding mobile international roaming bills which have shocked consumers with a total value of around 30,000 Bahraini Dinars.
TRA’s Director of Consumer Affairs Sh. Abdulla bin Humood Al Khalifa said “During the first quarter of this year , not only did we notice an increase in the number of consumer complaints related to roaming cases, but also an increase in the amounts being billed to consumers as a result of using mobile roaming. One of the cases that is being currently investigated has a value of BD 12,800.”
Sh. Abdulla continued in stating that “During separate meetings late last year, TRA urged the three mobile telecommunications service providers to take voluntary actions regarding the roaming bill shocks such as establishing a maximum threshold to trigger warnings, and to adopt risk management measures such as suspending the mobile services when an agreed limit is reached.” He further adds, “It is completely unacceptable and unfair that consumers do not receive the adequate level of transparency regarding the cost and volume of their usage of mobile roaming services. We are putting all of our efforts to resolve those cases in hand and studying the implementation of additional regulatory measures to ensure that consumers are notified when they’re about to reach their limits to prevent them from incurring additional charges.”
It is important to remind consumers of some important steps to avoid potential bill shocks and enable them to make wise decisions when using mobile roaming services and minimize roaming charges:
• Data roaming charges are very expensive, make sure that the data roaming function is switched off on your mobile phone.
• Contact your service provider and check roaming rates of the country you’ll be visiting. Choose the service provider who charges the least at the country you will be travelling to.
• Make sure that your mobile device is not on “automatic network selection” feature, as it might shift to a non-preferred network while roaming, and will cause extra charges.
• If you are subscribed to a data roaming package with your service provider, select your preferred overseas network manually.
• Remember that you will be charged for all calls (incoming and outgoing) while roaming, so choose the calls you answer carefully.
• If you choose to turn on data roaming, pre-plan your downloads and app usage as use of data can be very expensive (this includes applications that require your location, like GPS). If you intend to make a lot of calls or use data services, or if you travel frequently and cannot afford roaming charges, you can find out the cost of a prepaid mobile phone card in the country you are visiting.