August 06, 2012 08:47 ET

Brits Stung by Calls to Olympic Guests

- One in ten households to host overseas guests during Games

- Families to face up to £200 in additional phone charges for calling visitors

- Less than two per cent aware of the charges

- Lebara launches Family and Tourist SIM packs for low rate calls to overseas numbers

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Aug. 6, 2012) - Brits are being warned they could incur up to £2001 in unexpected mobile call charges when they phone friends and family visiting from abroad during the Olympics, according to a new study.

The report by mobile telecoms operator Lebara reveals that one in ten UK households2 will host visitors from abroad during the Olympic Games, but could fall victim to charges of more than £1.50 per minute to call their mobile phones.

Mobile phones were revealed as the most common way to keep in touch with guests, with 26 million phone calls expected to be made to overseas visitors over the course of the Games.3

When questioned, less than two per cent were aware that calls made to visiting friends and family will be charged at the standard international rate - the same as calling their mobile abroad. Four out of ten people believe they will be paying less than 10p a minute for the calls.

The charges will leave Brits with bills of up to £200 for just three weeks - more than eight times the average monthly phone bill. It means families across the UK could face an additional £20million in charges this summer.4

Rajesh Dongre, COO of Lebara, says: "People don't realise that even though their guests are in the UK and probably in very close proximity to them they are actually paying the same as if they were on the other side of the world. Millions of Brits around the UK are going to incur the costs of generously hosting guests during the games so the last thing they or their guests need is the legacy of a big phone bill at the end of it."

Lebara's research revealed more North Americans are heading to the UK than any other nationality, but Brits hosting these visitors are likely to be hit worst by the charges, with calls to handsets on US networks costing just over £1 per minute on average - nearly 12 times the average UK mobile phone rate of 8.5p.5

The study found that even those with friends and family closer to home will be stung by higher call charges. Other sports fans coming to the UK include those from France, Romania, Spain and Poland, for which the average standard overseas call charge is 98p per minute.6

The study was commissioned by Lebara to mark the launch of its Family and Tourist SIM packs, which allow free calls between UK Lebara users and low rate calls to overseas numbers, including mobiles. By using a Pay as You Go SIM card from Lebara, British mobile phone users could save themselves hundreds of pounds in charges during the Olympic weeks alone.

The guests themselves also face big bills when they call home to celebrate medal success. Lebara's report found that around 20 per cent of people intend to make calls during and after the biggest sporting events, while more than a third (35 per cent) would send a text.

Using a Lebara SIM card, standard rates for calls to the USA are 6p per minute to a landline or mobile, while charges for calling any phone in India are just 1p per minute. Calls to Romanian or Polish mobiles are charged at 10p a minute (and 2p and 1p respectively for landlines) while all international text messages cost 12p to send.

Lebara also offers low rates for national calls and calling dozens of other countries around the world, including China, Nigeria, Australia and Pakistan.

Lebara Mobile Family and Tourist SIM packs are available at branches of Phones4U and selected retailers nationwide.

Further information is available at: http://www.lebara.co.uk

About Lebara

Lebara is one of Europe's leading mobile telecoms operators, enhancing the lives of ethnic and migrant communities by providing high quality and low cost international mobile products and services. Lebara provides Pay As You Go mobile SIM cards and related products and services customised to serve the migrant communities in seven European countries as well as Australia. In March 2011, it expanded its services by launching Lebara Money in the UK, a simple and secure MasterCard prepaid card, offering highly competitive exchange rates and no transfer fees for customers wishing to send money abroad.

In March 2012, Lebara was awarded the 'Best Customer Service Award' for the second year running at the UK's Mobile News Awards 2012, beating fierce competition. Lebara also received the 'Best Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO)' accolade for the third year running. The awards recognise excellence, best-practice and innovation in the UK's mobile telecommunications industry. In addition, Lebara was a recipient of the Best Company 'one to watch' award in January 2012 - www.bestcompanies.co.uk.

1 According to Lebara research through One Poll 17/7/12

2 http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/family-demography/families-and-households/2011/stb-families-households.html

A quarter of Brits have visitors staying with them during Olympics. 40 per cent from overseas.

3 According to Lebara research through One Poll 17/7/12

4 According to Lebara research through One Poll 17/7/12

5 http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/jul/18/ofcom-report-phone-calls-decline?newsfeed=true

6 Average figures calculated from online prices quoted by three major UK network providers, 17/7/12

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