Man who spent two days in Monaco received €30,000 data roaming bill

Three Ireland fined €2,400 for wrongly charging 1,600 customers for data roaming

Three Ireland wrongly charged more than 1,600 phone users for data roaming when they travelled outside the EU and demanded almost €30,000 from a customer after two days in Monaco, a court has heard.

The mobile operator pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court on Thursday to eight charges of breaking Article 15 of the EU roaming regulations.

It follows an investigation by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) in response to eight customer complaints.

Judge Anthony Halpin refused to accept a charity donation instead of the Probation Offenders Act to spare the firm a recorded conviction. The offences carry a maximum fine of €5,000 per charge.


Despite an abundance of mitigating factors, including refunds, and genuine remorse, he noted that many people had been greatly upset.

He recorded convictions against the phone company and imposed fines totalling €2,400.

The breaches, caused by system errors commencing in 2018, related to a failure to implement a cap when customers reached €50 of charges for data roaming and a failure to send notifications when they reached 80 per cent and 100 per cent of the €50 limit.

Three Ireland identified 1,640 customers affected by at least one of the issues, though many experienced more than one. The total value of the charges to affected customers was about €632,000, or an average of €385. The company wrongly billed more than 120 customers over €1,000 and eight others in excess of €10,000.

The issue primarily affected customers who travelled outside the EU.

The court heard how it affected the eight complainants, most of whom had been on holiday when they incurred the improper charges, and Three Ireland cut them off. None of them had to come and give evidence due to the guilty plea.

The first case involved a woman on holiday in France who went on a day trip to Monaco, a non-EU member nation, in November 2021. She used her phone twice for about five minutes to find her way around. It resulted in being billed €1,485 for data.

The next complainant also took a day trip by bus from France to Monaco in December 2021. Three Ireland charged €376, even though her phone “never left her bag”.

A businessman who had to spend two days in Monaco for work “got a shock” to find he had been charged €29,298, and his service was suspended.

A married couple who were on a Mediterranean cruise from Spain to Italy in February 2022 were also affected. The wife got charged €495 because the boat went into international waters.

Another charge involved a man who went with his family to New York in November 2021 and used data to navigate his way around. He was charged €557.