Meaning: your German cell phone plan is valid in every European country in your regular rates and with no extra charges. Additionally, your land line and internet providers are now required to point out the fine prints of your contracts
Published originally in Hebrew at Spitz Magazine
At 15.06.2017 a new European regulation became valid, which allows using European cell phones (for phone conversations, SMSs and using mobile internet) in the European Union with no roaming costs. The regulation is valid for the 28 countries in the EU, along with Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein.
The meaning of this regulation is that your regular terms of usage of your cell phone plan in Germany are also valid in other European countries. Until further developments with Brexit, the cancellation of roaming costs will also be valid in the UK. However, one should remember that Switzerland is not a part of the EU. It is important to understand that the thought behind this regulation is to prevent crazy costs for roaming, and not to provide you with cell phone services for free, which means that if international phone calls are not included in your package, you will still be extra charged for them.
The regulation should become valid automatically, but this is not always the case. For example, those of you with EU/international phone plans are required to update the plan with their phone providers in order to enjoy the cancelation of roaming costs. To make a long story short, it is recommended to make sure that you are no longer charged for roaming costs, and not to rely on an automatic improvement of your terms and conditions.
The regulation is also valid for prepaid phone providers and plans, although it could be restricted under certain conditions. You can check your provider's terms and conditions here.
Additionally, the regulation has the following restrictions, in order to prevent abuse:
- Cell phone providers are allowed to charge for roaming if the customer is staying in another EU country for a long period of time, and if the rates of the current provider are lower than the rates of local providers. The provider must give notice on that case. The idea behind this restriction is to prevent a situation in which you, for example, buy a cheap SIM card during your vacation in Poland and use it for your daily lives in Germany.
- If your provider cannot provide roaming services and/or cover their roaming costs, they may apply for an exemption at the local public office responsible. In that case, the provider can be exempt from the regulation for 12 months.
Please note: if you are tourists in Europe and do not have a local SIM card, this regulation is not valid for you. Your local non-European cell phone providers may continue to charge you for roaming.
Land Line and internet providers are obligated to provide you with clear information
Another new regulation is aiming to end non-understandable contracts with fine prints and complicated legal terms, which even Germans don’t understand. The regulation requires land line and internet providers to inform their customers about the terms and conditions of the contract prior to signing, using a clear and understandable information leaflet. The leaflet must contain data regarding prices and duration of your contract.
Additionally, providers are required to inform their customers about the duration of the contract and the deadline for ending it (Kündigung) in each invoice. They are also required to inform their customers about measuring tools through which one can test the speed of their internet connection. The results of the measurement will be saved and can be used by customers as legal proofs in case the providers will not meet their promises regarding internet speed.
Returning old electrical appliances to shops
The regulation regarding returning old appliances to shops exists since October 2015. This week it got a new section, which determines that shops and dealers who will not apply the regulation could be fined. The fine can be up to 100,000 Euro.
According to this regulation, shops that sell electrical appliances are obligated to take back old appliances from customers with no extra charge, as long as they have a trading, storage or shipment space of at least 400 square meters. Small appliances (up to 25 cm) could be handed in even if you didn’t buy a new appliance at the shop, bigger appliances could only be returned in case you bought a new appliance. So, for example, Media Markt is obligated to take your old phone, even if you decided not to get a new one there, but you could only hand them your old fridge when you buy your new one at their shop.