Roaming Charges in the UK and Europe Reduced

Mobile roaming charges come into play when you use your phone  outside Ireland. When you are in another country – your calls, texts and data are routed through a local telecoms provider’s network, instead of your home network.
Up until a couple of years ago – some of these roaming charges could be at a vastly increased cost.

From  June 2017 all mobile roaming charges within the EU – including Ireland and the UK – will be stopped.  From that date you will pay the same amount for calls , texts and data anywhere in the EU as you pay here in Ireland.
Roaming charges in the EU have gradually been reduced  since 2007  – and from April 30th 2016 they have been amended again.

Roaming in the EU before April 30th 2016

Prior to April 30th 2016  – your phone company did not have to deduct any of your  roaming consumption from any of your  bundled  inclusive services. They could charge their normal “out of bundle” charges plus an additional roaming charge capped at the following rates :  19c per call minute, 6c per text , 20c per Mb

New Roaming Charging  Rules in the EU from May 2016

From May 2016 the new levels of EU roaming charges  are supposed to be  based on the  price of the service that you would pay at home in Ireland  – with a roaming surcharge added.

Data Roaming  –  per Mb :  Price in Ireland plus 6.1.5c
Outgoing Calls :  Price in Ireland plus 6.15c
Incoming Calls :   1.4c
Texts Sent : Price in Ireland plus 2.46c

All these charges are including VAT

These new charges should mean a reduction in overall roaming costs for most people – but as you will see below , the way some phone companies have implemented it will mean that some roaming charges will be higher from April 30th.

Any usage whilst roaming should  first be deducted from any inclusive services. So , if you have 500 call minutes on your contract/bundle  and you make a 5 minute call from say Spain to Ireland – your maximum charge should be 25c plus VAT (5 min at 5c per min) and your remaining call minutes will fall by 5 minutes.

There seems to be some confusion over the maximum charges allowed  . This  document published by the European Commission  states that ….  “From 30 April 2016 onwards, the roaming fee equal to domestic price + €0.05 may not exceed €0.19 for voice and €0.20 for data. The roaming fee equal to domestic price + €0.02 may not exceed €0.06 for SMS.”
But this maximum charge isn’t mentioned in  several other documents and press releases from the EU commission.

This wording appears to mean that a provider should not charge more than 19c per min plus VAT for calls made when outside Ireland . So  – if a provider currently charges 35c per min for “domestic” calls here in Ireland – it could be interpreted that the provider should only charge  19c per min whilst roaming . This would be strange – because it would mean the customer would be charged less while roaming !

Three Ireland  have interpreted it sightly differently :  They say  – “where the operator applies the surcharge, the total of the domestic rate plus roaming surcharge will be capped at the regulated rates. However, where operators do not add a surcharge, the domestic only rate shall apply and the caps are not applicable.”

It appears that the majority of Irish telecoms providers are doing it this way and just not adding any roaming charges if their domestic charge is already greater than or equal to the EU cap. For example – if 25c per min is the domestic rate – then the roaming rate will be the 25c per min  same because it is already greater that the 19c cap.

Vodafone  (here)  and  Meteor are also  charging the “domestic rate” for roaming on PAYG without any inclusive calls or texts.   (see here) .

Tesco Mobile also  seem to be following this method (see here) . Their normal call charge for prepay and out of plan calls is 30c/min.  Prior to April 30th , Tesco charged a roaming rate of 23c per min for calls (19c plus VAT). From Apr 30th they are charging 30c .

But iD Mobile seem to be following the regulations  and capping their out of  bundle and PAYG roaming charges at 19c per min ex VAT (see here). Their normal PAYG and out of bundle call charge is 35c per minute – but if you a roaming with them you will pay less (19c + Vat = 23.3c)

Billpay customers with Tesco  now have  a “fair usage” roaming policy when roaming within the EU. This so called fair usage allowance is  only  30 call mins, 30 SMS and 30 MB of data per month !
Usage under this allowance is charged at the EU roaming surcharge i.e 6.15c per minute for outgoing voice calls, 1.4c per minute to receive a call, 2.46c per text and 6.15c per MB for data.  But – when a Tesco Mobile customer  exceeds these fair usage roaming allowances, they will be charged 30c per minute to make outbound calls, 1.4c per minute to receive a call, 14c per text and 8.15c per MB when using data.
It won’t take long for someone on holiday to use 30 minutes of calls and to start being chanrged at 30c per minute. With all the publicity about reduced roaming charges – some Tesco Mobile Ireland billpay customers might assume the roaming charges would be 6.15c all the time. But they might get a bigger bill than they were expecting after a trip to the UK or Europe.
This restrictive fair usage policy can’t be right – and Tesco Mobile customers should question it or go to another provider.

Maybe COMREG should be looking into this and telling them all exactly what to do ? We have raised a query with Comreg and await a reply.

 

Electricity and Gas Prices Compared

What are the Cheapest Options For Switching Both Gas and Electricity in Ireland ?

Updated May 3rd 2016 .

All price comparisons below are  based on “average”  usage  of 13800 Kwh of  Gas and 5300 kwH of Electricity a year .

Dual Fuel – Same Supplier :

The best dual fuel deal from a single supplier is currently available from  Energia  . When you use their online only promotion code (“SAVEME392”) you get  23% discount off their electricity rate and 20% off their gas unit rates for a full year  PLUS  €50 cashback . This would result in a total cost  of  €1745 in the first year for someone using the amounts above.
Online Sign up Here Only 

For someone who is still on the standard Electric Ireland and Bord Gais Energy rates – this would be a reduction in energy bills of  €370 over the first year.

Bord Gais Energy’s lowest dual fuel bundle works out at €1819 in year one.   (That is with their  €100 cashback offer  included). Which is €74 more expensive than Energia.

Electric Ireland.  have a dual  fuel bundle that works out at   €1838 in year one for the above usage .  (When their €50 cashback offer is included)

The next best priced deal  for  switching both fuels to one supplier is  from SSE Airtricity . Their bundle  would work out at  €1851 in the first year. (Includes cashback offer of €50)

To get these lower prices with any of the suppliers you have to pay by direct debit and have online billing.

Using Separate Suppliers :

If you want to get your gas and electricity from separate providers – the best overall deal is available by switching to Flogas for gas  and to   Energia  for your Electricity using promo code SAVEME260 . This combination will work out at  €947 for electricity and €782 for gas  – a  total of €1729 in year one. This is €52 cheaper than going with Energia for both fuels.
(The Energia Electricity price includes a €20 online cashback offer)

For a household still stuck on the standard rates from Electric Ireland and Bord Gais – this would result in a saving of €396 in year one.

See our Electricity Price Comparison Here

The main message is – if you are have never switched and are still on the standard rates from Electric Ireland or Bord Gais Energy  – then switching provider can save you significant amounts of money. Even staying with the same supplier and changing over to payment by direct  debit and electronic billing can get you a reduced price. Even if you switched supplier a couple of years ago – it could be worth switching again

Figures  were calculated  to the nearest euro  May 3rd 2016  using published tariffs and standing charges on suppliers websites and including VAT, the PSO Levy on Electricity  and Carbon Tax on Gas.
The prices given are for new customers only .

When you  switch electricity suppliers you will need your  MPRN . This is an 11-digit number printied on your electricity bill. If you don’t have it, you can get it by calling ESB Networks on 1850 372 757.

If you’re switching gas suppliers they will need your GPRN . This is a 7-digit number printied on your gas bill. If you don’t have it, you can get it by calling Gas Networks Ireland on 1850 200 694.

You could obviously save even more money on your electricity bills by cutting  energy use . For  example –  switching any halogen downlighters to Gu10 LED  Low Energy Bulbs (Savings as much as 90%  compared to Halogen 50 watt!)

Insulating your home can also cut your energy bills – see our article about grants for insulation.

 

Energia Promotional Codes and Cashback

Energia usually have online promotional codes that  allow new customers to get  discounts on  their  gas and electricity unit rates.

A new Energia promotional code for May 2016 has been released –  It is “SAVEME392” . If you enter this code on their online switching page you will get a  23%  discount off their electricity rate and 20% off their gas unit rates for a full year –   plus €50 cashback

For homes with average usage,  this deal works out as the lowest priced bundle in the country for dual fuel from a single supplier  –   See Dual Fuel Price Comparison

Note: You can only use these promotion code discounts online  on the Energia Online Switching Page.

We estimate that a typical urban home relying on gas for both heating and hot water would use about 18000 KwH of gas a year. Electricity usage in such homes would typically be about 3500 Kwh a year.

If you switch both fuels online to Energia and  use this  promotional code – it would result in a total cost of  €1698 in the first year for someone using the amounts of fuel  above. (including the €50 cashback)

Bord Gais Energy’s bundle would cost  €1761 in the first year.(including their €100 cashback offer) which is €63 more than the deal from Energia.

Electric Ireland’s best dual fuel deal works out at €1790 over 12 months

The SSE Airtricity  dual fuel deal would work out at €1787 in year one. (With their €50 cashback included )

See Dual Fuel Price Comparison for some more figures.

Energia also have a discount code for Electricity Only customers  :  The promotion code “CHEAP260”  gets you a  26% discount on their standard rates. The €50 cashback also applies to Electricity only customers. This is currently the best offer in the country for Electricity .

Figures checked May 3rd 2016

Energia Online Switching Page

Electricity Prices Compared 

Gas Price Comparison

More Discount Codes Here

Energia only began offering gas and electricity to residential customers in Ireland in January 2014 and they already supply electricity to about 65,000 customers and gas to around 35,000 .

The main thing to realise is – that if you are stuck on old ESB/Bord Gais standard rates you can save significant amounts by changing your supplier or even just by switching to paying by Direct Debit and getting eBills.

 

Gas Price Comparison

Lowest Gas Prices in Ireland  (For New customers) May 2016

Bord Gais Energy (now owned by Centrica) have 4  competitors for the supply of Natural Gas in Ireland – FlogasAirtricity , Electric Ireland and Energia .
Shown below is a gas price comparison based on  annual  usage of  18000 kwH per year . (This could be typical usage for homes using gas for both heating and hot water.) We have compared the the cheapest tariffs from each provider for new customers – and the most expensive for comparison.

Figures  correct as at May 3rd 2016   ( including VAT ,  standing charges and carbon tax) Rounded to the nearest Euro.

Company € cent per kwh Standing Chg Annual Bill for 18000kwh Savings
Flogas Direct Debit 4.707 108 992 211
Energia DD +ebill 5.113 92.01 1086 117
Bord Gais DD ebill +levelpay 5.615 93.12 1120 83
Electric Ireland DD Ebills 5.509 91.72 1134 69
Bord Gais Std  Rate 5.890 93 1203 0

As you can see from the comparison above –  a  Bord Gais  customer on standard rates using  18000 kwH of gas a year would save  €210 over the first  year one  on their gas bill if they switched to Flogas
Note:  It is possible that gas customers who changed suppliers in the past year will be still on special lower tarrifs or fixed rates. The figures shown above are the prices charged for new customers.

All gas users will also use electricity – so you might get a better overall deal if you get both your gas and electricity from the same supplier. See our page on Dual Fuel Prices Compared

See our page on Cheapest Electricity in Ireland here.

Some fuel providers have discount or promotional codes – check out Discount Alert page for any currrent codes.

If you have an older gas boiler – you could cut your bills even  more by upgrading to a new efficient condensing boiler. There are grants available to help – and you could cut your gas usage and bills by as much as 20% .

See more here about Grants for new Gas Boilers and more here about  Financing of New Boilers

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