Orange dismisses FACUA member's 3,646 Euros bill with charges for roaming in Switzerland

The company didn't suspend the customer's service after he had surpassed the predetermined 60.50 Euros legal maximum, claiming "perhaps the machine didn't work".

Orange dismisses FACUA member's 3,646 Euros bill with charges for roaming in Switzerland

Orange has dismissed a FACUA member's 3,646 Euros roaming fee, which the company had improperly charged him following a trip to Switzerland.

In June 2018, Francisco R.R., a Las Palmas resident, contacted his mobile phone provider, Orange, to enquire about whether he'd be able to continue using his phone and internet services whilst on a trip with his family he had planned to various EU countries. "They told me that this was an option, and it was free. I then went on to connect to the roaming service and set up a data roaming cap" says the user.

On 15 June, Francisco and his family were driving in the north of Italy, when they decided to cross the border into Switzerland so that they could visit that country as well. Some 45 minutes passed with Francisco using the GPS on his phone, when he received a call from Orange letting him know that he had accrued a 3,500 Euros fee in mobile data, and that if he was interested, they would deactivate his service so that the bill wouldn't go up any more, which he decided to do.

It was then that he realised that a short while before, he had received a text from the company telling him that he had run up 36.30 Euros in roaming fees, and another just a minute later informing him that the charge had already gone up to 96.80 Euros.

Francisco decided to call Orange to ask for explanations and tell them that they had failed to fulfil the contract he had with them, since one section stated that they had to suspend the roaming service when the additional charge exceeded the legal limit of 60.50 Euros. According to Francisco, the operator answered him by saying "perhaps the machine didn't work".

The customer then decided to get in touch with FACUA to negotiate the 3,646 Euros fee being cancelled, given that he had been unfairly charged.

FACUA's legal team confirmed that there was an infringement which made the invoice for this fee inadmissible. As the user had claimed, the maximum additional fee a company can impose for the use of a phone line in a non-EU country is 60.50 Euros (50 Euros plus VAT). After this, the client must be informed that they have reached the limit, and that they will need to request their service be reactivated in order to continue using it (and that they may be charged a reactivation fee).

EU Regulation 531/2012 states that "An automatic message from the roaming provider shall inform the roaming customer that the latter is roaming and provide basic personalised tariff information on the charges" and that the company "shall make available one or more maximum financial limits. One of those limits (the default financial limit) shall be close to, but not exceed, EUR 50 of outstanding charges per monthly billing period (excluding VAT)".

Following FACUA's complaint, Orange went on to amend the bill and dismiss the 3,646 Euros excessive roaming charge. The association warns that this sort of infringement is very common in the sector, both due to the lack of information on rates outside of Spain when travelling to a non-EU country, and especially invoicing customers for amounts above the 60.50 Euros limit (including VAT), established by default in telecoms regulation.