Vodafone New Zealand “improves” roaming fees – and the lack of competition

by kai on 22/10/2007

Just the other day, I’ve received a SMS from Vodafone NZ asking me to ring 495 to learn about the new, streamlined and improved roaming charges. Interesting enough they’re notifying their customers by SMS, but that’s a different story.

There are a few changes which I’m – to be polite – not really thrilled about. First of all, they’ve lifted up the fee for sending an SMS while roaming from 20 cents to unbelievably and outrageous 80 cents. Secondly, they’ve “streamlined” the costs for receiving a call on roaming to a fee of 1 NZ$ per minute.

Seriously, the fees for SMS roaming of 80 cents are absolutely ridiculous anyway – but the new roaming fee for incoming calls is even more of a joke.

Let’s create the following (realistic) use case here. I’ve got family and friends back in Germany – so I’m usually over there regularly – using my Vodafone NZ phone in Germany the fees above would apply.

Btw: one of the big advantages Vodafone NZ is trying to sell their customers here is supposedly that you wouldn’t have to manually search your preferred network (to get the best rates for calls) while on roaming. Hmmm – it might be just me, but my phone pretty much always books into a Vodafone network (whenever the particular country had one). And anyway – why should I subside people who don’t care about using their mobile in a cost effective way while roaming?

Back to the example. If my parents or some friends came down to New Zealand for a few weeks and are on Vodafone Germany – the following charges apply for them roaming the other way around:

Incoming calls: 0.75 Eurocents (=ca. 1.50 NZD) PER CALL for calls of up to 60 minutes. AGAIN: 0.75 Eurocents PER CALL. Did I mention that it is PER CALL.

Outgoing calls: back to Germany as well as within New Zealand – any airtime will just be deducted from your minute package + a surcharge of 0.75 Eurocents PER CALL (again – someone seeing the pattern here?)

Vodafone NZ and Vodafone Germany are separate entities, but both belong to the Vodafone corporate. Does anyone besides me also has a problem with understanding the justification why roaming from Germany into New Zealand is significantly cheaper AND allows one to use the included package minutes opposed to Vodafone New Zealand literally ripping off their customers when they go overseas? Well – it’s technically the same, isn’t it? Or are maybe the guys from Vodafone Germany the evil empire here as all the billions of Vodafone NZ’s customers travelling to Germany would force their infrastructure to collapse, so they (VF Germany) charge the poor guys from Vodafone NZ those high rates themselves and they have no choice to pass it on to us, the customers? (sniff…)

The answer is basically: Lack of competition. Bad enough that there are just two mobile networks in New Zealand, even worse that you – realistically – just have the choice of Vodafone New Zealand for roaming in large parts of the GSM world.

I bet with a third or even forth player in the game here, mobile fees would come down as fast as marbles come down stairs.

We’ve just seen prove of that about two months ago when Virgin Blue has entered the New Zealand domestic aviation market. Before their step into NZ, Air NZ and Qantas used to be the only players offering regular and full service within the country. With Virgin Blue now servicing Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch (the main centers), Air NZ and Qantas fees have come down, perks such as free drinks and newspapers are re-introduced and Qantas put a few millions in finally upgrading their local Qantas club lounges.

Oh, btw: the example of Vodafones Germany/NZ is picked pretty much arbitrarily – the same observations (with slightly different figures and setups) apply for Vodafone NZ towards any other Vodafone branch and also (but not to that extent) between Vodafone branches in Europe (actually the European Commission is looking into the outrageous roaming fees between European telcos now).

Weyert October 23, 2007 at 12:00 am

I can’t say calling with a mobile phone is cheap in general in NZ. I learned sending SMs messages in NZ because it was a lot cheaper then calling πŸ˜‰

Weyert October 23, 2007 at 12:00 am

Roaming with my phone plan in NZ is a lot more expensive then your Vodafone example: 2euro per minute (calling, receiving calls), and 0,45 eurocents per text message. That’s why I used prepaid πŸ˜‰

Frank West November 7, 2007 at 12:00 am

I was in Europe and UK for four weeks recently – from NZ – and found the easiest and cheapest way to use a phone was to buy a ‘cheapy’ vodafone 14 to 20 pounds. On return, you can either keep it until your next trip or throw it away, It’s still much cheaper than roaming, unless of course you need something other than just a means of communication.

Does anyone know the rates for the latest NZ Telecom 140 countries roaming offer? They should be good for a laugh.

Jenny January 21, 2008 at 12:00 am

Went to New Caledonia in October 2007 for six days..I followed the instructions etc to get the network..it didn’t happen..so rang the number on the brochure and asked for help..After three frustrating calls, I finally got my phone to work on Roaming.Yippee..I thought..About a month after I got home..I got the bill..$219.00..I nearly died..scanned the account..found the phone calls I had made to their helpline were charged..the first call for help was $57.73 for 21 mins..the second $7.90 for 2.43 mins..the last $20.16 for 7.07 mins..got on my Landline..told them to get their “s…” together ‘cos I aint paying those calls.Finally, after 2 months, they agreed and creditted my bill…WoW!!
Haven’t paid it yet..the way I see it…I had to waste 30.41 mins of my holiday to get the phone going…then spend nearly three months to get a bill I could relate to..but still have to pay the phenomenal charges for calls that didn’t even get through..so they can wait..let them accumulate some charges for a change…

Allan February 13, 2008 at 12:00 am

Telecom roaming prices for Germany:
Local/National $1.50 per min
Call NZ / Voicemail $4.00 per min
International $8.00 per min
Inbound call $1.00 per min
$0.80 per txt

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