Yesterday I flew from Dallas to Paris with a stopover in Chicago. As always I tried to go online at the airport to check into my mails. I am a T-Mobile phone customer in Europe and was pleased to see that a T-Mobile hotspot was available. I found the T-Mobile Hotspot contract from my last logon in Germany that finally has said that one can use the minutes purchased worldwide. I tried to login in all possible ways only to read that my user name was unknown, I went back to find my last purchase in the US but despite it being less than 120 days it seemed to be expired as well. I tried my T-Mobile login from Austria but to no avail.
I was so upset that I stopped trying because I was not willing to pay like $10 for simply checking my emails. I turned on my iPhone and did it that way. T-Mobile data roaming charges will be exporbitant for the few minutes but it won’t be $10 dollars. Then I used the phone to sent a nasty email to T-Mobile, threatening defection. They promised to get back to me in 24 hours.
So here I am in Paris and I spent now €22 for 24 hours of Wireless at a Swisscom Hotspot. I am also a Swisscom customer in Switzerland but I can’t use the hotspot login from there. I need to use a credit card. That is like $40 at current conversion rates. This is completely ridiculous. There is a cheaper version fo the 24 hours charge for private use that is €17. Ergo: Business travellers are being ripped off by the mobile phone companies in an incredible manner. Both in roaming charges and in wireless access. Unfortunately the iPhone does not support 3G yet and thus one has to use expensive GPRS and EDGE services. I am against regulation but there is a kind of roaming charge cartell at work. Here the EU should really step in and act. No they rather want to overrule our national constitutions to create the centrally planned socialist super nation. At least that is the idea of the Germans and the French about the EU.
Back to Customer Service: Why can I not use my mobile phone chipcard to pay for my wireless services worldwide and at sensible rates? I can tell you why. Because charging business travellers people €22 per day is much more profitable. They could not do that in a charged package. It would be a whooping €682 PER MONTH! There is no technical reason why a roaming user should be charged five to ten times the rates of a local user for phone, SMS and data. Not even double can be justified. Maybe a 20% surcharge is plausible. My T-Mobile phone package costs €39 in Austria with unlimited data access. I sometimes pay €300 to 500 in roaming charges mostly for data transfers and I am not working 24 hours. It will be exciting to see how much that changes with the iPhone.
Simply: travelling business people are a mobile GOLD MINE. Why? Because it is not their money but the businesses money that they spend. In the US it is called ‘out-of-town-taxation’. If a city council need to make more money and does not want to upset its constituents they put up the tax on hotel rooms, airport charges and rental cars. When I rent a car in DFW, 50% of total cost is taxes. Mobile phone companies do the same thing. Soon, local governments will want to be part of that gold mine as well and add a roaming tax to the mobile phone services.
So I wonder: Why do businesses accept that! We do not give our employees mobile phones and do not pay their bills. Mostly because either they have no travel needs or if they do then they should not be on the phone but working for the client at their site and not be called by other clients.
I am also waiting for each PC to be equipped with a GSM chip card and a 3G wireless device inbuilt. Then I want to be either 3 or wireless hotspot, not know about it and pay for it at a fixed price per month with a little extra charge for roaming that goes to the roaming partner. Everything else is a RIPOFF and you know it.
Why do you accept it?