21 June 2017
As the annual holiday season approaches, the Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) would like to alert all consumers to ensure that they are familiar with their service provider’s roaming packages and services if they plan to use their Qatari SIM cards aboard.
Both service providers in Qatar have products catering to travelling consumers but it is the consumer’s responsibility to understand the related terms and conditions such as the cost of the roaming services and the process to monitor usage. In addition it is important to check before travelling if their service provider offers roaming service in the destination country.
“CRA typically receives a high volume of complaints from consumers related to roaming following the holiday season. CRA strives to help consumers make informed decisions when using roaming packages and services available to them when travelling out of the country. If consumers have any unresolved complaints with their service providers CRA is available 24/7 through its hotline 103 and mobile app ‘Arsel’. However, it’s still important for consumers to stay informed about their data and roaming usage to avoid bill shock,” said Amel Salem Al-Hanawi, CRA’s Consumer Affairs Manager.
Most common complaints related to roaming services, received by CRA, are as a result of the consumer using the wrong network carrier, over consumption of roaming data (exceeding set limit), or misinformation about the activation and termination process.
To ensure a smooth experience of using communications services abroad, consumers should call their service provider beforehand or visit their website to read available information and where possible, activate the package before traveling so that they do not incur any unnecessary roaming charges at the destination.
Consumers should also stay informed of the networks that their service provider has partnered with in the destination country. Ideally, network selection should be turned to manual mode in settings of mobile devices to ensure that a strong non-partnering network is not selected automatically.
Consumers should also become aware of their selected roaming package, and continually monitor their balance to avoid incurring high roaming costs outside of the package. The service providers are obliged to provide consumers notifications before the package ends or is consumed completely.
Consumers should take advantage of such alerts and manage their roaming costs responsibility. If their allowance is finished before the expiry of the existing roaming service, they should check with their service provider the process of adding more allowance. If using a monthly roaming package, they should check with the service provider if the renewal is automatic and plan accordingly.