Be careful while travelling abroad this summer – this misleading text from o2 cost us £60
Earlier this year my husband an I embarked on the adventure of a lifetime for our honeymoon. Two weeks travelling around the west coast of the USA. We spent a week in Las Vegas followed by a couple of days in San Diego and three nights in LA to visit Disneyland California.
We both consider ourselves reasonably financially savvy and so to arrive home to a phone bill of £90 from O2 for calls made from my husbands phone while in the US was a bit of a shock. I’ll willingly admit that neither of us are particularly well traveled and looking into phone tariffs for while we were abroad hadn’t really occurred to either of us. We figured pretty much everywhere would have WIFI and that if we needed to contact anyone back home we’d use Whats-app or Facebook to get in touch with them.
We actually took an indirect to flight Las Vegas (to save money, of course!) so our first port of call was actually Calgary airport in Canada where we would have a few hours wait before jumping on a plane to McCarren airport where our honeymoon would be begin.
Shortly after touchdown on the runway both my husband and I received the following message from O2. We both received the exact same message when landing in the USA too.
Welcome to Canada
‘Welcome to Canada/USA. You’re on O2 Travel so keep your phone on and get all the data, minutes and texts you need for just £4.99 a day. You’ll only be charged for the days you use it. Prices include VAT. Your daily charge applies from midnight to midnight based on the local time of the capital city in your chosen destination. For more info about O2 Travel, to see the standard roaming rates or opt out of the service visit www.o2.co.uk/travel, Usage terms apply. Call 112 for emergency services. To stop texts call 2220.’
As we didn’t think we would need to use our phones we weren’t too worried, but it was nice to know that we’d only be charged £4.99 a day if we did.
And you can probably guess where I’ going with this. In the end we did need to use my husbands phone – several times as it turns out.
We Were Wrong
As part of our awesome, once in a life time trip we’d booked a helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon. This was something we were both very much looking forward too. Unfortunately for us, it wasn’t to be. Severe inclement weather meant that our trip was cancelled on the day we had booked it. So, we made a quick phone call to re-book it for the following day. Which again was cancelled. So another phone call to re-book. In the end we ran out of days – absolutely gutted but we understood not wanting to take the risk with the severe weather conditions. Another phone call to arrange a refund for the cost of the trip.
The idea of the these expensive phone calls abroad should probably have horrified us, but as per above we thought we would only be charged £4.99 for the days we had used the phone. And since on those days we thought it had been activated we also made phone calls home to our parents just to let them know how we were doing.
We continued with our holiday and thought nothing more of it. When the bill came we were expecting it to be a little bit higher than average (3 x £4.99) but it still should have come in at about £30 as hubby is on cheap monthly contract that’s about £15.
Where had the extra £60 quid come from?
It turns out we weren’t on O2 travel at all. To register for O2 travel you actually have to click the link in the above text. You then have to send a text with the words O2TRAVEL to 23336 and wait 24 hours for them to activate the service.
Maybe I’m missing something but nowhere in the above text does it say that you have to activate the service for it to apply. The words ‘You’re on O2 Travel’ made both of us think the service was there and ready to use should we need it. Nowhere does it say ‘Click here to Activate’ or that it will take 24 hours to become available for use.
There is also the section that says to ‘opt out of the service visit www.o2.co.uk/travel‘ once again making us believe we were already opted in. Now, maybe because we’ve not traveled much there’s something here we’ve missed, but I really don’t think there is.
That text is very misleading.
Of course, if we’d known we weren’t on the O2 Travel Tariff we wouldn’t have made the phone calls to our parents which made up the bulk of the charges, around £50. The calls to the helicopter company made up the rest of the bill.
Obviously we complained to O2 but they were adamant that it was our fault for not signing up to O2 travel in the first place, despite showing them the text they had sent us and arguing how misleading it was. And of course there was no denying we had made the calls. We raised an official complaint with them but never heard anything back.
If you’re with O2 and travelling abroad this summer please don’t make the same mistake we did – make sure you know exactly what tariff you need to use your phone abroad and whether it’s something you need register for. Do your research. You might just save yourself coming home to a huge phone bill.