Vodafone mobile broadband abroad

I recently subscribed to the Vodafone Mobile Broadband 3GB service which offers a download speed of up to 7.2 Mbps (although the best I have yet to achieve is around 200Kbps).Last weekend I was in Kilkenny, Ireland at the Cat Laughs comedy festival. Not so funny was my Vodafone mobile broadband bill when I got back.Having been on the internet for around 10 minutes and looked up the festival itinerary and downloaded the PDF brochure, I wasn’t expecting a huge bill.However, I found when I got back that this had cost me £8.50 plus VAT.Looking at their extremely confusing mobile broadband abroad costs page (vodafone.co.uk/goabroad) it turns out they charge:

£9.99 for 24 hours* in selected countries**£4.99 per MB in other countries

Digging in a little more detail, I found out Ireland was in one of the “selected countries” where the rate is £9.99 per 24 hours (subject to the fair usage of 50MB). Even though I had had only used a few KB of data I still ended up having to pay the full amount which is a pain!Just to push the argument a bit, if I’d used the internet for a few minutes each day that weekend I would have paid £19.98 which seems very counter-intuitive.So, this statement on their website sounds very trite:

“At Vodafone we have reduced the cost of roaming abroad with your USB Modem or Data Card, and made it simpler and easier to understand than ever before.”

Roaming abroad seems very costly and it is certainly not simpler or easier to understand. In fact the Vodafone customer service operator admitted that the page was not easy to understand and took 45 minutes to explain the charges after having to consult with colleagues several times.She ended up referring to an internal price plan document to clarify the pricing structure. I only had the website to explain the charges so I wish Vodafone would cut a little slack on their arbitrary and complex pricing structures.  If I had been in an exotic country where I would have paid £4.99 per MB for my internet access I would have paid less.Also, there is also no balance checker with the service. What this means is that you have to ring them if you want to find out how much data you’ve used. Again, not very user-friendly.And don’t start me on using my Blackberry abroad. The last time I used it abroad I got back and Vodafone had to recalculate my bill because they didn’t understand why it was priced as it was.All in all, Vodafone mobile broadband is very confusing. And even more so if you go abroad.