Dangerous Surfing In France

It’s all about the internet, of course, and the really, really fine print in the contract.

Now that so many people are choosing to use smartphones and netbooks for most of their internet access, they are tempted by the exciting offers of the various telephone companies. Unlimited internet via 3G sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, although the TIME you are online isn’t limited, the amount of bandwidth IS limited! Also, since we’re all one happy European family now, most people don’t hesitate to use their phones and net services when they cross the border into Spain or Belgium.  They soon discover the error of their ways.

Yesterday the big story was about a man living in Northern France near the Belgian border. He signed up for an account with Orange in August. His first bill for for 45,000€ for one month of access!! The gag is that much of that cost was for “roaming”charges in Belgium. Only he hadn’t set foot in Belgium. How could it have happened? Well, apparently when you are on the border between two networks, your phone automatically picks the best network. Because of his location, that network was often the Belgian network! This is apparently a big problem for everyone in similar circumstances, because most people never bother to look to see which network their phone is using.

Today, a host of other cases are making the news. Many, many people are discovering these horrible, abusive invoices from their service providers. And they are not all uniformed consumers; a lot of them are people who think they understand what they’re signing. But clearly this is not the case.

I am sure that this will have to be addressed, as you can’t have so many individuals finding themselves in massive debt to a phone company without some action being taken. I don’t know where it will go, but I’m watching. And I’m also feeling very relieved that smelled a rat when I renewed my cell phone service and decided not to go for any “extras!”

Ciao for now.


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