Operator also launches flexible handset upgrades, AI chatbot.

Vodafone UK on Wednesday scrapped roaming fees in 40 countries, launched new tariffs, and unveiled a flexible handset upgrade programme.

The operator also rolled out an AI-powered chatbot, ‘TOBi’, with the aim of helping with online customer queries.

"Customers have told us they want us and the rest of the industry to change," said Vodafone UK chief executive Nick Jeffery, in a statement.

Over the coming months, Total Telecom expects the rest of Europe’s mobile operators to announce that they have also been listening to customers, as they prepare for the end of retail roaming charges in the EU from 15 June.

Indeed, nothing says "we have listened to customers" quite like being ordered by a regulator to scrap roaming fees.

Of course, it would be unfair to lump 3UK in with the rest; it launched its Feel At Home free roaming offer in select markets in August 2013. Feel At Home is now available in 42 destinations, including the U.S., Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand.

In addition to free roaming, Vodafone UK also launched three new tariffs – Essentials, Red Extra, and Red Entertainment.

Entry-level Essentials offers unlimited texts, up to 500 minutes, and up to 500 MB of data; mid-range Red Extra comes with unlimited voice and messaging, and up to 40 GB of data; and range-topping Red Entertainment offers unlimited voice, texts, up to 60 GB of data, and a choice of a subscription to either Spotify, Sky Sports Mobile, or Sky’s Now TV streaming service.

Vodafone said it will send alerts when customers are close to using up their data allowance, and will offer them a choice of additional data options when they do.

A price plan is nothing without a fancy handset though, and with that in mind, Vodafone has rolled out a new scheme that will allow its customers to upgrade to a new device every six months.

Called Flexible Upgrades, customers can trade in their current phone and use the cash towards paying off the outstanding balance on their device, leaving them free to upgrade to the latest smartphone.

In addition, Vodafone has also launched TOBi, an AI chatbot that can address queries such as phone troubleshooting and order tracking. It can also escalate issues to a human as needed.

"[Customers] want life to be simpler and for us to remove the things which make life stressful so they can live their lives, uninterrupted by these concerns," Jeffery said. "Our new programme will do that over the next few years and will prove our commitment to letting our customers talk, text or stream for a great price, wherever in the world they may be."