International roaming services offered by mobile telecommunications providers can help consumers communicate with their friends and family easily even while they are abroad. However, usage of this service without knowing the correct mechanism may result in your phone bill to skyrocket. There are also consumers who experienced bill shock as they return home and found their phone bills costing thousands of ringgit due to international roaming services for phone calls and internet data.
Every year, the Communications and Multimedia Consumer Forum of Malaysia (CFM) receives consumer complaints regarding roaming voice usage and roaming data usage from all over Malaysia. According to CFM records, a total of 52 complaints have been received as of June 2018 and 170 complaints in 2017. Based on the total number of complaints received from 2012 until today, the number of complaints on roaming data usage is higher than roaming voice usage. CFM recommends consumers to take precautions when using internet data while abroad by equipping themselves with information on prices and roaming packages offered by their service providers.
|YEAR||ROAMING DATA USAGE||ROAMING VOICE USAGE||TOTAL OF COMPLAINTS|
|2012||34 complaints||15 complaints||49|
|2013||50 complaints||35 complaints||85|
|2014||49 complaints||38 complaints||87|
|2015||54 complaints||36 complaints||90|
|2016||312 complaints||72 complaints||384|
|2017||120 complaints||50 complaints||170|
(Jan – Jun)
|49 complaints||3 complaints||52|
To overcome consumers’ concern while they are abroad especially for Malaysians who will be performing the Hajj this month, CFM offers beneficial international roaming tips that can be used as a guide to stay connected with their family with peace of mind.
“Hajj season involves Malaysian pilgrims who want to stay connected with their families while they are in Mecca. The tips shared by CFM are to provide consumers with accurate information and actions or steps to be taken before and while abroad to prevent bill shock when returning home,” said CFM Chairman, Mohamad Yusrizal Dato’ Yusoff.
Below are the steps that can be taken as the guide for Malaysian pilgrims on the usage of telecommunications services before and while in the holy land:
1. Consult with your Service Provider before traveling abroad
This is to ensure you have the correct information regarding charges that may apply. You will not be exempted from paying the charges even if you are not aware.
2. Back up all your contacts and important data before leaving Malaysia
This is a security measure if you lose your phone when you’re there. You can upload important information and store it in an online storage for easy access from anywhere.
3. Avoid using two sim cards in one telephone
You are not encouraged to use this method if you are unfamiliar with telephone settings as it needs to be changed. Use a different phone for different sim cards. You are also advised to use another phone for the local sim card that can receive and make important calls while in the holy land. While the smartphone is for your other non-immediate needs that can be used on Wi-Fi connections only.
4. Purchase an international sim card sold in Malaysia via online or at the airport
International sim cards are sold in Malaysia and have packages which might suit your needs and can reduce the complexity of registering new cards abroad.
5. Get a local sim card upon arrival at Saudi Arabia as an alternative for cheaper package
Do some research on what is available and choose the best sim card package that best suits your intended usage during the duration of your stay.
6. Deactivate Automatic Connection To Networks
Service providers in Malaysia usually have an international roaming partner in the country that you are visiting and they usually provide special flat-rate packages for both voice and data when connected to them. Deactivate “AUTOMATIC CONNECTION TO NETWORKS” and ensure you are always connected to your service provider’s roaming partner to enjoy these preferential rates.
7. Switch to Airplane mode or Flight mode and use Wi-Fi
If you wish to stay connected only on Wi-Fi, you can choose to switch your smartphone mode to “AIRPLANE” mode or “FLIGHT” mode and use public Wi-Fi hotspots that are available.
8. Use applications such as WhatsApp when receiving voice calls while abroad
If you only wish to receive calls and SMS while abroad, you can use applications such as “WhatsApp Call/ Video Call” and use public Wi-Fi hotspots.
CFM would like to wish all Malaysians performing their Hajj a safe and trouble-free pilgrimage.