Beware 3 Mobile

I’ve been living in France full time for about five years, and for much of that time have used a facility offered (and much touted) by my UK provider, 3 Mobile. It’s called Feel at Home and enables you to use your UK allowance to make calls from abroad. This has been invaluable to me, as you can imagine (I pay quite a large monthly rental as I used it to get an iPhone). I’ve suddenly been informed by Three that they are cutting off this facility from tomorrow - apparently it says in the T&Cs that it’s only meant for travellers, and intended to last just 2 months. Obviously my fault for not reading the T&Cs, so I called them and said I’d be happy to pay for data roaming. No, they said, this is not possible - the arrangement they have with their foreign partners means that you are are on Feel at Home or total zero.
Obviously I can still use my phone on WiFi, but otherwise it is a pretty useless and expensive item, and I’m locked into the contract until September this year. Debating whether to get a French SIM or get someone to send me a Pay as you Go from the UK.
I’m just posting this as a warning to anyone who may be thinking of using Three. I’ve been telling everyone for years what a wonderful service they provide and now I realise that if you are an expat, they are the very last provider you would want to use.

I actually do use 3 and am very happy with them. I have a PAYG 3 data sim which I use in my mifi when I’m in the UK and top up whenever I go back, and I also have a French PAYG Orange data sim that I use when I’m in France. I need mobile connection for my pc work and I like the reassurance that if for some reason my Orange sim were to not work, I could in an emergency use my 3 sim in France.
Honestly feel it’s a bit unfair to blame 3 because you took out a contract without reading it. I think they make it pretty clear that the deal is aimed at travellers - it’s even suggested in the name Feel At Home - plus, realistically, unlimited free roaming sounds too good to be true, and when a thing sounds too good to be true you know you have to look carefully. I thought the limit was 3 months so if you’ve got away with it for 5 years you’ve done well! It is an excellent deal for travellers.
Of course you could always stick with 3, buy a PAYG sim and use it until they cut you off and keep replacing it, there are people who do that.
But personally it seems odd to not buy your sim card in the country where you live.


Check the small print. If you have had your iPhone for long enough they are very simple to unlock so you can use it with a French SIM.

What an odd situation! :slight_smile:

There are some pretty good sim only deals offered by the French operators - for example Red by SFR are offering unlimited calls & texts plus 10GB of data for 10€ a month.

For my travels I use the reasonably priced, amazing, British designed dual sim phone the Wileyfox Swift. Then I just pop in a local sim from the country I’m in and use top-up services provided by

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I’m a great fan of Wiki dual sim phones - nice phones and very good value, you can get one for around 50€.

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You are quite right Anna but in fact I am not blaming Three for my own failure to read the small print. Obviously I must take responsibility for that. What concerns me is just that some people (full-time expats) might not realise that when the Feel at Home runs out they will not be able to use their phones abroad at all - thus better to choose a provider that simply charges you for data you use. It’s just a shame that Three can’t find a way of doing this after the offer expires, but there you are. It’s been an absolute godsend to me and I just have to bite the bullet now and decide what my next move will be.

Thanks David. In fact my phone is already unlocked (another bonus from Three) so I will see about getting a French sim.

Just one final point - reading the T&Cs would have forewarned me but wouldn’t have helped in any other way as this Feel at Home is not something you can opt into or out of. You have no choice.

I use Free mobile sim, they do two plans, €2 month which allows you 2 hrs per month free calls to several international destinations an a €19 month gives unlimited calls international which also allows phone use from outside of France.

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Thanks Lee - that’s really helpful.

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I also have a Three contract. which started last April for two.years. we explained in the shop that we were going to live in France in the not too distant future and had been sold the phone contract x 2 on that basis. It may well say there us a limited period in my contract but in that case we were misold by the shop as they knew our situation and said nothing about it being a limited period.
Fortunately we have Huwai phones, which are cheap on contract and have a dual Sim facility. We have also got sim from leclerc but it doesnt fit in the slot for using on 3g.
Hope you can get your phone unlocked.
Im sure I read somewhere about the rules on data roaming changing later this year to encompass all Europe, that is, of course if Britain is still in Europe at that point.

We use Free as well and have found it brilliant. When you are abroad (i.e outside France) you get 35 days a year in each EU country when your calls are free to landlines in that country and back to France and unlimited data download. If you are in another country for more than 35 days it is best not to use the data download but the calls are not expensive. If you also have your broadband from them the monthly charge is reduced to €16. Worth looking at their website.

Husband’s 3 PAYG Sim was disabled with a few hours notice a few weeks ago, and I hadn’t been aware of the risk, as when Feel at Home came in it wasn’t in the T&C which I read carefully - this expat ban was added without informing customers a few months ago. I asked for clarification as to what the time limit was, and then spouse rang and asked as well, and I looked it all up and enquired online. We got several different and contradictory answers. It looks as if you can only use the SIM in France if you don’t exceed two entire months in any rolling 12 month period. So if you took the phone to France half way through January and went to the UK before the end of March, February would be your first month. Some Three customer services people will tell you that’s not what it means, and a two month period in France will lead to you being cut off, but that wasn’t the case with us. Suffice to say the staff aren’t clear about the rules, so how the customer is expected to understand it is beyond me.

To disable the card completely seems most unreasonable, but that’s what they do. Your phone will start working again as soon as you enter the UK, as ours did. We obtained a free 3 PAYG sim and put that in the other slot on the phone, and I set it up to use the new one when the old one is out of service. Sadly call forwarding wouldn’t work, so anyone who would have rung it will not be answered on the new sim.

So now we are being cautious with my own phone’s 3 contract SIM, and turning off the phone and removing the sim for a few days each month rather than lose my all-I-can-eat data for £13 a month which wouldn’t be available to me on a new contract. We also have a spare phone with an O2 PAYG card, and a French SFR sim in a fourth mobile, although I have never received details or been able to find what allowance I get, if any for my 1.50€ a month for that.

How do all the kids manage to understand this system?

Looking from the outside I am not at all surprised that Three are preventing people from abusing their system. They have already gone out on a limb to allow UK tourists to have an excellent roaming package but I doubt that they considered that it would be used by residents in another EU country as their main phone. Boundaries and goodwill can only be pushed so far.

Hi Diana - yes I believe they moved the goalposts without telling anybody
they were going to. As I’ve said on here before, it’s the disabling the
card that bugs me the most. It does annoy me that whatever sim I get I will
not be able to receive calls or texts on the original number. I’ve always
been really happy with 3 but I do think they’ve blotted their copybook here.

David nobody is intentionally abusing the system. It was never described at
the beginning of its life as simply for tourists. But as I and other users
keep saying, the unfairness is not the short time limit, it’s the fact
that, unlike every other UK provider, they cut you off completely after 2
months when I’m sure anyone in the same position would be happy to pay fair
roaming charges.

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I am with David on this one. It is called Feel at Home, meaning that you can use the phone in the same way as you would do normally when on holiday overseas - it has always been marketed as roaming use when on holiday.

For us travelling to France quite often to our holiday home it is superb, I would not expect to be able to continue to use it if we were to move there permanently.

I really don’t want to get onto an argument about this, but must just say
that it was never ‘marketed’ to me - it just appeared out of the blue one
day in the form of a text saying I could now use my phone abroad for no
extra cost. I had no choice in the matter - I already had a contract and
was expecting to use the phone abroad and pay for the data as I had always
done before. I just assumed Three were being extremely kind and generous to
their customers - there was never any mention of a time limit. I don’t
expect to use Feel at Home now I understand how it works - how often do I
need to say this - I just wish I could go back to paying for data like I
used to before.

Unlocking phones is really simple. Service & step by step instructions on UK ebay for around £1.50, It works and it’s all internet based so can be done from France and really easy.

Three are now offering a number of packages now without Feel at Home - a French sim however would be better.