Can Consumers Claim Back Data Roaming Charges?

A recent legal case is making the rounds and what makes it so interesting is the foundation the case was built on. Most of us can relate to being surprised that our contracts changed or renewed just because we altered our mobile contracts in some small way - either by adding a new device or changing our data plans. And for those of us who have found ourselves trying to bypass a contract renewal by calling the mobile company with requests to allow the contract to expire - or in some cases to cancel the current contract - we know the pressure that can sometimes be used to keep us. There’s no doubt the competition in this particular sector is formidable, but fortunately, it’s not above accountability.

Now, it looks like those contracts aren’t as ironclad as many were led to believe and maybe there exists a way to claim back data roaming charges. It all began with a frustrated solicitor who found herself turning to the legal system as a way of leveling the playing board, so to speak.

The city solicitor, Angela Walsh, had decided to cancel her contract with T Mobile in order to take advantage of a better offer she’d found. What she discovered, however, was a convincing sales person on the other end of the line. Instead of breaking the contract, she found herself in a new package to go with her new phone. Soon, though, she realized this triggered a lot of changes in the services she received; specifically, she discovered that she’d been hit with a £7.50 per megabyte fee. Unfortunately, this realization didn’t hit her until she was on vacation and discovered her service had been cut because she’d exceeded some preset data limit. The gloves were off. She was determined to claim back roaming charges.

A judge agreed

Soon, the case was in a London court and District Judge Trent ruled that even though she was a customer before the changes, the sales pitch did not include notification of the contractual changes; in fact, it was irrelevant that she never received those changes in the mail. The judge said from a legal perspective, the phone call constituted the contractual changes and that call should have provided that information in its entirety.

Ultimately, Walsh was reimbursed more than £560.00 she paid and the judge also ordered T Mobile to cover the £240 in legal costs.

Could this be the signal that a new trend is being developed? It’s likely and it’s even more likely that there no shortage of customers who learned the hard way, just as the solicitor did, that the terms and conditions had been changed. Now that a precedent has been set, and for those who are looking to claim their own roaming charges, the time to do so is now.

It will be interesting to see what T Mobile has to say should other credible arguments begin to surface. The company referred to this specific case as "isolated". Time will tell.

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