Rupert Goodwin's Diary

Wednesday 11/7/2001If ever there was an earthly candidate for satanic contracts, the mobile phone industry is it. How many times have we signed deals, only to exclaim "What the hell?

Wednesday
11/7/2001 If ever there was an earthly candidate for satanic contracts, the mobile phone industry is it. How many times have we signed deals, only to exclaim "What the hell?" when the bills arrive -- they might not be after our actual souls, but anything else that isn't tied down is seemingly fair game. One particular habit of theirs which has always rankled more than most is the roaming charge scam. You might be paying five pee a minute for a call from Falmouth to Fort William, but dare to talk mobile-a-mobile from Dover to Calais and you'll find the quids flying from your pocket faster than arrows from a longbow. This hasn't been lost on the European Commission For Fair Play, which noted tersely some time ago that everyone seemed to be charging the same extraordinary high price for roaming, and nobody quite knew why. Mario the commission boss coughed menacingly, but the phone companies affected not to hear him. Bad move, chaps. Today, the EU and the local regulators conducted a synchronised dawn raid on all British and German mobile phone companies, carrying off records of everything they've been up to. "We're innocent, and it's all just routine" say the companies concerned. Believe them? No, neither do I. Frankly, I'm delighted. As BT has found to its cost, if you spend years ripping the public off it's amazing how little sympathy you'll get when the bill finally hits the doormat.

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