Uploading holiday pictures may cost £30 if Brexit deal isn't reached

Brits face having to pay up to £30 for uploading a photo if free roaming isn’t extended in trade deals outside the EU after Brexit.

Consumer watchdog Which? is calling on the Government to negotiate trade deals with the US, Australia, New Zealand and Japan which include free roaming to help holidaymakers save money.

Since June 2017 data roaming costs have been abolished across EU countries, but if no Brexit trade deal is agreed, networks will be allowed to charge extra for using mobile data in the EU from January 1, 2021.

Thankfully EE, O2, Vodafone and Three have already confirmed they have no plans to charge extra in the future.

However, British tourists can still currently accrue heavy charges when travelling outside of Europe, and sometimes their phones can also be blocked from calling and messaging once they hit their monthly bill cap.

And now the UK can sign its own trade deals with non-EU countries, the Government could include roaming provisions as part of these trade deals.

Which? analysed the cost of using data in the four countries the UK Government is prioritising for post-Brexit trade deals.

And the research has revealed sky-high charges for a number of popular mobile service providers.

EE, O2 and Vodafone customers benefit from a daily cap on charges, costing between £4.99 and £6 a day.

But Plusnet customers could be charged £30 to upload a single 5MB photo in the USA, Australia, New Zealand or Japan. Tesco Mobile and Virgin Mobile customers could be charged £25.

Plusnet customers could also be charged £17.28 to stream a four-minute song on Spotify, while Virgin and Tesco Mobile customers would face fees of £14.40.

Which? has warned customers to look at the details under their mobile contracts to avoid surprises and also to be wary of cloud services which could automatically be backing up pictures in the background.

Sue Davies, head of consumer protection at Which?, said: ‘As trade talks intensify with priority countries, it is important that the Government protects and ideally enhances consumer rights. 

‘Which? is calling for provisions to be included in these negotiations to put an end to some mobile operators charging excessively high fees when customers are abroad.’

All mobile network providers have a 50 euro (around £45) monthly cap on roaming under current EU rules, but the research suggests customers could quickly hit their limit after uploading just a couple of pictures or streaming a few songs.

A Plusnet spokesperson said: ‘No one likes surprises when it comes to their bills, so we cap roaming charges at £40 per month and allow customers to reduce this further if they want to.

‘We also send customers a text when they reach 80% of their roaming cap and again when they exceed it, and these charges contribute to their monthly spend cap plan.’

A Tesco Mobile representative said customers are able to cap their bull at any time to avoid unexpected charges.

A Virgin Media spokesperson said: ‘Details of non-EU roaming charges and guidance for using mobile services abroad are clearly outlined on our website and customers are able to connect to a number of WiFi hotspots at no cost when travelling abroad.’

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