Posts Tagged ‘texts’
One in six holiday makers who take their phones abroad are often bamboozled by big bills when they return home – and those hunky consumer crusaders at Which!!! have accused mobile providers of keeping customers in the dark about their holiday mobile charges.
From tomorrow, new laws are coming into effect for reduced roaming charges in the EU, which put a limit on the cost of outgoing calls. The cap on charges will be 18.24p a minute for UK callers. A text will be capped at 5.76p, and 1MB of data will be 19.2p.
But even so, Which!!! thinks that travellers outside of the EU are still being held to ransom by confusing charges.
In one of their super surveys, Which! found that a lot of people didn’t realise that capped charges only applied to the EU.
A Which!!! lackey said: ‘We found one in six people who have taken their mobile on holiday abroad in the past year have been shocked by a high mobile phone bill, of these one in four were charged more than £40 over their usual monthly usage.
‘Worryingly nearly half – 45per cent – of mobile users who have been abroad in the last 12 months said they didn’t know that the price caps don’t apply to the whole of Europe, with 48 per cent believing that they do.’
So here is the news. Only EU countries. Turkey isn’t in the EU, so if you’re in Dalaman having an all you can drink holiday, put your phone away now.
Spending money to send a traditional SMS may soon be as laughably old fashioned as dressing up like George Formby and riding your penny farthing to the bazaar to buy moustache wax. (Ok, so that’s what all the hipsters are doing tomorrow – bad example.)
ANYWAY, instant messaging is what the skint kids are into these days, according to research firm Informa, which found that freebie chat apps like Whatsapp and Viber have overtaken SMS.
In 2012 almost 19 billion IMs were sent per day from apps, compared with 17.6 billion texts.
Research by another company Ovum, suggested that almost £15bn was lost last year thanks to chat apps.
So does this mean the end of the humble text message? Not quite. Not everybody is a new fangled First World idiot with customised Nikes and a smartphone. A large proportion of the global community are still communicating via antiquated Nokias, and for them, SMS is the only way to go.
Even so, mobile companies are going to have to do something about this new trend if they’re going to protect their revenue. With billions of dollars being lost, maybe Nokia should think about taking that Whatsapp button off their new Asha 210…?
As if Siri wasn’t irritating enough, boffins want to replace our bog standard ‘RU OK CU L8TR LOL’ texts with a yapping floating head woman called ‘Zoe’ who is based on an actress off Hollyoaks. SRSLY.
Developed by Toshiba’s Cambridge Research lab, the system has more human emotions than any other avatar, and can make a decent stab at sarcasm, fear or anger. In fact, it’s got six settings that you can use to create an infinite amount of emotions. It’s like that annoying woman in Red Dwarf, or Max Headroom. (Google it, kids).
At the moment Zoe is based on Zoe Lister, an actress in Hollyoaks, but they are currently adapting it so you should be able to upload your own ugly mug and scare the crap out of your friends when you text them.
But isn’t this missing the whole point of texts? Surely the only reason anyone actually sends texts is because they can’t be arsed talking to people? I mean, who wants Facetime with their mum while they’re having a ‘lie down’?
There’s nothing quite like social media and ‘the blogosphere’ when it comes to escalating a grievance against a large corporation. Natalie Guest has whipped up a storm against T-Mobile over the past few hours, thanks to her tale of woe about the enormous mobile provider.
It’s all to do with the small matter of her being charged £522.66 instead of the usual monthly £20 for her T-Mobile contract phone. As Natalie said in her email to T-Mobile on August 6th…
“After some investigation via my online billing account, it looks like there has been some form of technical/network error. I went to Germany for 3 days last month (being careful to turn off all data roaming and mobile internet services), and whilst I was there sent a text to my friend Christian, as he used to live in Munich.
For some reason this same text got replicated and sent to him thousands of times. I had no notification of this on my phone – they didn’t appear in my ‘sent’ box – but he did receive the same text multiple times. Thinking it was an issue at his end, he contacted his provider – O2 – who thought it was probably a problem with his handset.”
When Natalie brought the textual oddness to the attention of T-Mobile, they said that they would investigate it but couldn’t guarantee a refund and would text her within five working days. As she told T-Mobile…
“…obviously, this was a technical glitch – whether that was one to do with your network or the German network. It wouldn’t be physically possible for me to send the same text 6 times a minute for 3 days without sleeping, even if I had any discernible reason to want to do this. I’ve attached a screenshot (below) so you can see the sort of thing I’m talking about.”
Ten days have gone by and Natalie still hasn’t heard anything back from T-Mobile. In fact she has cancelled her direct debit so that the huge, disputed sum isn’t paid out of her bank account. But, there is SOME communication from them – instead of a resolution of her situation, she says that she is being plagued by…
“• Daily automated texts from T-Mobile asking me to pay my outstanding bill, in order to avoid an interruption in services.
• Daily calls from TMobile asking me to pay my bill, from people with no knowledge of the issue. Upon asking them to read through my notes, they say the issue is being “investigated”. I ask them to please stop phoning until some progress has been made, or to put a note on my file asking people not to phone me. They claim that this is impossible as “calls are automated”. I ask whether I’m going to be cut off. They say “not until the 31st, and it should be dealt with by then”. I have absolutely zero confidence that the issue will be dealt with by then.
• Frequent missed calls (I’ve been in theatres a lot over the past week, so haven’t always been able to pick up) which, once I ring back (which I do, in case the issue has actually been resolved), put me straight back into the TMobile automated service and ask me to press 1 or 2 or whatever. Once I get through to someone, they have no idea what the previous call was about.
• Frequent (although not quite daily) calls from TMobile telling me I’m a “loyal customer” and so am eligible for some sort of deal.
• Frequent (although not quite daily) texts from TMobile asking me to rate how I felt my customer service was today. FYI, my ratings are very low at the moment, which I presume is what is triggering the “loyal customer” phone calls.”
But nothing regarding the huge bill that Natalie says has been run up in her name in error. Natalie’s blog has been all over Twitter and Facebook today, and it’ll be interesting to see if the blanket of negative publicity for T-Mobile will make them pull their finger out and sort this thing out. We’ll be watching and will keep you informed…
EDIT: As Natalie says in the comments below… “Just had a phonecall from a very lovely and helpful lady called Jacqueline, to tell me that they’ve removed all of the charges for the month & reinstated my account.” HOORAY!
Last year, O2 did an awful lot of fiddling with their tariffs, using headlines to promote the good news and making no mention of the changes that could cost customers dearly – you wouldn’t expect anything less, of course. For example, before March last year many O2 customers could text from outside the EU without cost – instead of being charged, O2 would deduct four SMS messages from their monthly allowance.
O2 then changed the tariffs so that new and upgrading customers were charged 16p per international text – detail they failed to tell anyone about. We warned readers to read the small print if they were due to upgrade because catching out a lot of customers who were unaware of the additional costs until they received their bill.
Last month, O2 simplified their smartphone tariffs – and according to avid Bitterwallet reader Steve the price of sending texts from abroad has sky-rocketed:
“I was away in the US for a week, and I’ve just checked my usage online so the next bill isn’t too much of a shock.
“I sent 28 text messages on the new O2 tariff which I switched to at the end of last month. 28 texts have cost me £7 – that’s 25p per text!”
Ouch. That means texting from outside the EU has risen by over 56 per cent in just 12 months.
In fact, given that data in the US is £6 per MB and emails are typically 35Kb, it’d be actually cheaper to send emails than texts, more so if you’re using a lot of data, since O2 charges a maximum of £40 for 50MB – roughly 5p per email sent. Obviously it doesn’t quite work like that, since you’d use data to receive emails too and you’d often download several emails rather than single items. The fact remains that texting with O2 from abroad has become needlessly expensive – bad news for travellers this summer.
If you’re one of the old school who bought your iPhone on an O2 contract, a word of warning before you upgrade – check the small print.
Avid Bitterwallet reader Dominic has been in touch to let us know that you won’t get what you expect from O2′s new improved “unlimited text” tariffs:
As a subscriber of the old £35 a month tariff (600 mins and 500 texts) I thought it was a good deal to change to their £40 a month for 600 mins and ‘unlimited’ texts… but there’s a catch.
At the moment on the £35 a month tariff you can text an international number or send a picture message and it comes out of your 500 message allowance. With a new ‘unlimited text’ tariff you have to pay extra for picture messages and international texts. This wasn’t explained to me and so I cancelled my ‘upgrade’ on the subsequent phone call.
We’ve had a check and it’s now 20 pence per MMS and 16 pence per international text. Even if you stay on the same tariff, you’ll still find yourself with the new ‘unlimited texts’ alternative and having to pay for texts that were included in your allowance. Having said that, if you’ve finished your contract you might be better off looking at O2′s Simplicity deals – instead of £40 per month for two years, you pay half the price for half the contract length.