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Consumer watchdog urges government to cap mobile roaming charges

Swiss telecoms providers are under scrutiny for the charges they impose for roaming. Keystone / Mel Evans

A Swiss consumer rights group has called on the government to impose limits on mobile phone roaming charges, complaining that users are being ripped off.

This content was published on February 21, 2020 - 15:27
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“Put simply, roaming tariffs in Switzerland are exorbitantly expensive. They are cash cows for telecom providers,” Sara Stalder, head of the Swiss Consumer Protection FoundationExternal link, told Swiss public television SRFExternal link on Friday.

The foundation said that Swiss consumers had to pay up to 975 times the standard fee for internet surfing abroad on their smartphones if they do not have a data package or have no access to wifi. This is equivalent to the price of a coffee rising from CHF4.50 to CHF4,390, the watchdog said in a statementExternal link.

In the European Union, consumers are protected by regulationsExternal link within EU member states.

The issue is hardly new in Switzerland, but has come to the boil once again with the revised Telecommunications Act poised to go live this year. The Consumer Protection Foundation has challenged the government to intervene directly on the issue of prices.

It is leaning on a legal opinion from a Swiss law professor to challenge the government’s previous assertions that it does not have the power to impose price limits on the free market. This opinion is tied to the wording of the Telecommunications Act that is currently in consultation phase before being implemented.

The consumer watchdog is adding its weight to the consultation process with the aim of forcing the government to accept its interpretation of the powers of the Act.

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