Letters to the Editor

Do not pass go when roaming in Abu Dhabi

  • Telephone charges: trip to Abu Dhabi proved very costly

Dear Sir,

I recently travelled to Toronto and Abu Dhabi in quick succession. I am a One Communications customer and have a mobile phone purchased from them. Before travelling, I went into One Communications on Church street to get a roaming pass for my phone. I was told that Toronto had an arrangement with One Communications but that Abu Dhabi did not. I had no idea what that meant, but because I was not expecting to use my phone other than in an emergency, I was not concerned.

I arrived in Abu Dhabi on December 1, 2017. On December 3, I received a message from One Communications stating that I had accrued charges of more than $500. I e-mailed my husband immediately and asked him to contact One Communications on my behalf and ask — other than remove my Sim card, which I had done — what I should do to remove the roaming from my phone.

My husband, having contacted One Communications, e-mailed me the steps I needed to take and he paid the bill.

This week I received a further bill from One Communications for more than $1,000, which I have paid. However, I both called One Communications and visited its offices, where I was told that I may continue to receive charges for up to 60 days after leaving Abu Dhabi on December 8. I explained that I had disabled the phone after being in Abu Dhabi for four days and One Communications told me that they had no control over the charges and countries such as Abu Dhabi could charge whatever they liked.

One Communications has said I was told “no arrangement”, but what did that mean? Frankly, being of an age that as a child there was no television, no computers, no fax machines and certainly no mobile phones, I was more concerned with whether I needed a visa than an arrangement with the country I was visiting.

One Communications suggested that I should have gone online or visited the site at the airport. Where is the site at the airport and where do I find the information online? Had I known that not having an arrangement meant you could be at risk of incurring thousands of dollars in charges, even if you didn’t use the phone, I would not have taken the phone with me.

I suggested to One Communications that it should give out handouts on the risks of having mobile phones in countries without arrangements. However, in this paperless world we find ourselves in, such a notion was met with incredulity. In fact, the representative I suggested that to laughed at what must have seemed a ridiculous idea.

Perhaps a reasonable solution would be to ask that mobile phone companies in Bermuda put greater resources into staff training so that baby boomers such as me can benefit from enhanced customer service. Surely, it would have been a simple matter for someone to have explained to me, when my roaming pass was issued, how the system works, rather than just saying One Communications does not have an arrangement with Abu Dhabi.

I can’t help that I grew up in one world and now live in another; I will not be taking my phone again to countries without an arrangement. Unlike millennials, I can survive without a mobile phone.


Hamilton Parish