A STRABANE man who was slapped with tariff charges of £12 an hour for a phone he says he didn’t even use while on a ferry crossing to Wales has warned other holidaymakers to be careful.
Ballycolman man Dominic Duffy (52) was shocked to see a £37 charge on his mobile phone bill this month after crossing
from Dublin to Holyhead back in February. When he queried the cost, since he didn’t make a call or surf the internet while on board the Stena Line vessel, he was told that charges were standard when roaming.
“I went over on the ferry from Dublin to Holyhead ferry in February”, said Dominic. “I had my phone with me but I didn’t use it at any time on the three hour journey.
“When I got my bill this month I was astounded that I was charged £37 to connect to Wi-Fi on the journey.
“My phone, which was in my pocket, must have connected to the ship’s Wi-Fi. The ship was Norwegian and I don’t know if it connected to Wi-Fi in Norway or what happened. But I found it unbelievable. I didn’t make one phone call, I didn’t go on the internet, I didn’t even take it out of my pocket.
“Thirty seven pound would pay the internet costs for my house for a month. I was on the ferry for three hours so that was basically £10 an hour. I contacted O2 about this and was basically told that I was in a different jurisdiction and was charged as such.
“I was totally disgusted, and I just wanted to make other people who will maybe be heading off on holidays on the ferries aware of this so that they can make sure they aren’t faced with a big bill.”
A spokesperson for O2 said they could see from records that Mr Duffy used mobile data on the ferry and that incurred a total cost of £34.17
“Customers may roam onto a ferry company’s mobile network when out at sea,” he said. “We advise our customers of these charges via text message, as we did in the case of Mr Duffy. We would recommend customers switch to a manual network selection setting on their phone to avoid roaming automatically in instances like this. As a gesture of goodwill, we’ve applied a credit of £17.08 to Mr Duffy’s mobile account.”
A spokesperson for Stena Line advised passengers to be mindful of their data roaming.
“Stena Line advises that passengers always keep data roaming off to avoid surfing the internet on the mobile net whilst onboard,” he said. “Most mobile operators send out SMS information to customers about their charges, however this is driven by the network operator and we have no control over it.
“The price for using mobiles at sea is decided by the respective mobile operator so any questions regarding charges from mobile phone operators should be directed to the individual operator.
“As mandated by EU legislation, the Maritime Communications Partner (MCP) – which offers enhanced mobile phone coverage – coverage will only be available if the user’s network becomes unavailable and is never offered within two miles of our departure or arrival ports.
“Additionally, we offer free Wi-Fi to all our guests onboard every route, so customers can connect their devices and avoid any data roaming charges for using the internet.
“Stena Line believes that the SMS information from mobile operators; the information given out during the welcome announcement plus one specific announcement about the use of mobile phones onboard is sufficient to ensure that customers are aware of the potential costs associated with usage during the sailing.”