Vodafone’s new Out of Bundle charges: how to cancel your contract

September 1st, 2010 81 Comments By Paul Smith

admin badge Vodafones new Out of Bundle charges: how to cancel your contractAs promised, we’ve more advice for those looking to cancel their Vodafone contract over the new Out of Bundle charges to be introduced on 1 October. You can read about the issue in detail here, but essentially Vodafone is looking to impose hard caps on the amount of data some customers can use, instead of usage being subject to a Fair Usage Policy (FUP).

Vodafone has provided a route to cancellation without charge, so today we’re going to walk through that route and provide a letter template for those looking to cancel. We’re going to be direct about the matter; our letter template backs up your right to cancel with consumer law, and we’re going for the assumptive close.

What’s the issue?

Many of Vodafone’s contracts include a FUP in the general Price Plan Terms. A FUP means that charges for excessive data usage are discretionary, not mandatory:

27. All Vodafone services offered free or under unlimited subscription are subject to our Fair Use Policy. If, in the reasonable opinion of Vodafone, your use is excessive, we may ask you to moderate your usage. If, after we have asked you to moderate your usage, you fail to do so, we reserve the right to:

(a) charge you for the excessive element of your usage at your price plan’s standard rate;

(b) throttle your usage; or

(c) suspend or terminate your service in accordance with your airtime terms and conditions.

In their latest announcement, however, Vodafone has stated that from 1 October these charges will become mandatory for any and all usage above the contracted limit. This mandatory out-of-bundle charging means there can’t be a subjective element of “fair usage” if charges are imposed regardless:

On 1st October we are introducing out of bundle data charges. These charges will only affect the small proportion of customers who exceed their data allowance. These customers will be subject to the following charges:

– Customers without a data bundle will be charged 50p for every block of 25MB
– Customers with a data bundle (Value pack, flexi pack or as part of their tariff) will be charged £5 for every additional 500MB

Vodafone appear to recognise this is change to the Price Plan Terms that are part of many customer contracts, because they have outlined a route to cancellation without charge.

Are you eligible to cancel?

First, you need to check whether you’re eligible. As we understand it, some smartphone contracts already have a hard cap on data usage, in which case there is no change and you won’t be eligible. There may also an issue as to whether newer contracts are affected; check the Price Plan Terms that are relevant to your contract; if you contracted recently (from 7th June until now), you may have agreed to different terms.

If you’re unsure how to calculate the figures specified by Vodafone to see if you’re eligible, take a look at the letter template below – all the help for working out the numbers is in there.

Do you want to cancel?

It’s apparent that all mobile service providers have their faults and make changes to contracts that customers are unhappy with. You need to ask yourself whether Vodafone provides a service that suits you. Is the coverage right for you? Is the tariff? If these changes don’t affect you, please don’t try cancelling for the sake of it; it takes the focus away from customers with a valid concern.

An important word or two from us

• First, our usual caveat. We’re not solicitors and we’re not telling you to terminate your contract. We’re happy to offer advice and tools to take your fight further, but ultimately you are responsible for your actions. Please don’t take any of this as legal advice or a substitute for legal advice; we assume no duty or liability to you.

• Contracts work two ways: just because Vodafone is bigger than you, it doesn’t automatically mean they’re always right. If the detail of a contract is ambiguous, then there’s room for interpretation. The supplier’s opinion is not determinative and nor is that of the regulators (although Vodafone must operate within Ofcom’s General Conditions) – only the Courts can say whether a term is ‘fair’ or not.

• The law governs, not the contract. In other words, consumer law beats any contract you signed with Vodafone.

• In our letter template, we’ve followed Vodafone’s announcement about using your previous month’s bill to work out whether you’re eligible to cancel your contract. However, customers have also received written confirmation that they may use the previous three bills to calculate this figure. Internal communication at Vodafone appears to be dreadful, so you may want to try calculating the values in both instances.

• It has been pointed out that Vodafone states only those who have received a particular text message can cancel. Our take on this is that Vodafone’s terms mean they don’t have to announce the changes to all customers. Therefore, instead of trusting Vodafone to get in touch, we’d suggest checking your usage anyway, particularly if you think these changes will affect you. We think the announcement in the Vodafone forums can be considered due notice of the charges, as outlined under clause 15 of the pay monthly airtime conditions.

What next?

• We’ve prepared a letter template for you to cancel your Vodafone contract (Word document). Everything highlighted in italics and bold must be either replaced or deleted. We’ve held your hand through this to make sure the numbers are right. Read it all carefully. Again, you’re sending this of your own choice, so know what it is you’re putting your name to.

• You need to pay for any items/use for the last 30 days that isn’t included in your advance monthly payment. If you’ve incurred such charges, call and find out what they are.

• You can send any final payment for any extra charges for the last 30 days by a cheque marked “in full and final settlement of all obligations.” They may try to charge you a Payment Handling Charge for this.

• If you are still within the minimum term, you might like to take individual legal advice and/or at least find out what Vodafone would claim from you in charges, so you know your potential exposure if the court found the term was fair in your case.

Comments (81) Jump to most recent comment
  1. Posted by Gib September 27, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Well, I sent an email to Vodafone using the online form on the 20th, recieved a reply back the next day saying my message had been passed onto the “special department” and that they would get back to me if I was eligible to cancel (despite the fact that I have clearly met all the criteria and jumped through the vodafone hoops).

    I gave them a call today and was told by the person on the other end that the department will be looking into the matter, and that they have no direct contact with them so I would have to either a) respond to the email I recieved from Vodafone or b) Wait for them to get back to me.

    It’s been 18 days now since they recieved my letter and cashed my cheque, yet still no PAC. I will be replying to the email today. Lets see if I get a proper response!

  2. Posted by Alec September 27, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    I received a PAC code today, after receiving a letter response from Vodafone a few days ago. The letter stated that I would have to pay £360ish to get out of my contract… but I rang them today asking why it states a cancellation charge, and the guy on the other end told me to ignore it and to use my PAC code, once I used it the contract would cancel and I would have to take the charge up with them then!!

    I dont know whether to go ahead and use my PAC code and transfer to Pay as you go for the time being??

  3. Posted by AntPotter September 27, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    I have also received my pac code via SMS today, following on from a two line letter from Vodafone advising me that they were currently reviewing their position in regards to the cancellation of my account. No mention in this letter or the SMS about financial penalty for cancelling early. My contract has been terminated 9 months early.

    Thanks a lot for the template letter. It took two letters from me to win the battle – their first reply was a badly worded & rambling attempt to get me to back down, telling me I could not cancel without financial penalty but offering no reason as to how they arrived at that decision.

    In case it makes a difference to anyone else’s claim, I have only ever exceeded 500Mb usage once since taking out my contract, so the 3 month thing mentioned in the above posts is obviously total rubbish.

  4. Posted by Neelesh September 27, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    Received my pac today as well.. but no letter yet.. Im waiting for the letter now….

  5. Posted by Paul September 28, 2010 at 12:02 am

    I got my PAC today! I was in the same situation as you Gib, none of the “specialist team” ever got in touch with me though. Still quite weary of getting the early termination fee, though noone at Vodafone seems to be able to tell me if I’m going to get charged or not.

  6. Posted by Yakkity September 28, 2010 at 8:22 am

    Congrats to those getting their PACs. I’ve still had no response to my letter. I’ve re-sent my email to them to which I got a reply saying it has been passed to their “specialist team”, and that I will hear from them within 48 hours… We shall see

  7. Posted by Matt September 28, 2010 at 9:55 am

    I got my PAC yesterday, but unfortunately I also had a letter waiting for me at home stating that I was NOT eligible to cancel without incurring a charge.
    Looks like this is going to run and run….

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  9. Posted by Paul September 28, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    @Matt

    You should contact Otello since Vodafone have reached their final offer. It’s kind of a dead letter situation. Ofcom put me on to Otello a couple of weeks ago but you either need to get a “deadletter” or if the problem has been going on for more than 8 weeks. I’m sure if you got in touch with them they would be able to sort it out, Ofcom already told me that you don’t even need to prove that you’re going to have a 10% increase on your bill to cancel. That’s Vodafone and T-Mobile off my list now, anyone know the best network to go with??

  10. Posted by hagbard September 30, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    I got the text yesterday and wasn’t sure whether I should cancel my contract or not. I looked at my usage and aside from the last couple of months where my phone was in for repairs and I was on holiday, the most I went over was by 60mb. I’m 12 months into an 18 month contract, but looking at what’s currently available if I cancel, I just couldn’t see anything worth the money and the hassle. I told them instead to upgrade me to the premium data tarriff where I get 1gb per month. In 6 months time stuff like the Desire HD will be a little bit cheaper anyway.

  11. Posted by Gib September 30, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    I called ofcom this afternoon to complain about how Vodafone were handling the situation as I had emailed Vodafone again after calling them a few days ago and they had replied telling me to send them a letter. Something which I had already done weeks ago.

    After getting off the phone with ofcom I decided to ring Vodafone again. I managed to get through to a rather helpful chap who read a copy of my letter and pretty much told me I was eligible to cancel and that there was no reason why they shouldn’t have sent me my pac by now. He placed me on hold whilst he requested my pac and then sent it to me by sms there and then. He informed me that once I use my pac the Vodafone systems will generate a final termination fee which will then be manually overriden and I will have no termination fee etc to pay.

    Thanks to the folks at bitterwallet and the helpful replies from people on this post. Time to start shopping for a new contract!

  12. Posted by Neelesh September 30, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    What did ofcom say???

  13. Posted by Gib October 1, 2010 at 12:56 am

    Ofcom simply told me to go onto the Vodafone website and follow their complains procedure. And that if they didn’t provide a satisfactory response I should contact Otello

  14. Posted by Alec October 5, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    does anyone know how to unlock an iPhone 3GS on 4.1???

  15. Posted by Amardeep Karir October 7, 2010 at 9:04 am

    I have tried to cancel by sending them a letter on 1/9 which they didn’t receive, called them up 2 weeks later and told them to email which I did and then called up yesterday and they said they can charge me if they want and they have not changed any terms and conditions.

    I emailed them and received:

    I can see that your price plan includes VMI (Vodafone Mobile Internet Pack).

    However, VMI has a fair usage policy of 500 MB.

    Vodafone gives notifications once you are about to exceed your usage limit.

    Your 18 month commitment period started on 8th December 2009 and completes on 7th June 2011.

    If you wish to cancel your contract prior to the commitment end date, you need to pay early cancellation fee, which as of today comes to an amount of £235.60.

    If you wish to pay the early cancellation fee, the payment options are as follows:

    1. Cheque- If you send a cheque, you need to write your account number and mobile number on the back of the cheque so it’ll be allocated to your account correctly. The cheque should be payable to Vodafone Ltd. You can send it to the address below:

    Vodafone Ltd
    P.O. Box 932
    Doncaster
    DN4 5XW.

    2. You can just call 191 free from your phone or 08700 700 191 from any other phone and select the options and 2 to make a credit/debit card payment.

    3 Online Payment: We’ve just started the new online payment service so that you can pay your bills from our website
    http://www.vodafone.co.uk using your credit/debit card. To use this service, you’ll need to register online.

    4. You can also make payments quickly and easily via our free automated service by dialling 56677 from your Vodafone mobile.

    Once you have made the payment, please get back to me and I will schedule your account to be cancelled as per the 30 days notice.

    I trust this helps.

    Kind regards,

    Vibin Sudevan

    Any idea what to do next? Should I go straight to Otello?

    Thanks

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  17. Posted by AndyP October 10, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    I’ve only just come across this! Is it too late to do anything about it now?

  18. Posted by Alec October 12, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    @AndyP

    Im not 100% sure, but I did read that you should have contacted them before 1st October at the latest… as this is when the charges are due to commence

  19. Posted by andi October 13, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    I received a text in October 11th about nearing 500mb which before that I knew nothing about fair usage policy as it was never mentioned about my unlimited data plan and was never told that these changes were happening until I queried why there would be a charge for going over a certain amount as its unlimited. Takes them forever to reply so I googled the charges and found this site. Very underhanded tactics by vodafone so I’m now too late to do anything because the first I heard about it is after the deadline for cancelling shall see if ofcom can help

  20. Posted by Alec October 18, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Well I was getting nowhere with Vodafone…. spoke to a girl in retentions who knew nothing about it, even though she was gettin 10-20 calls a day about it!!
    Havnt had contact off her in 2 weeks, and doesnt reply to my emails

    They issued a PAC code to me when I first rang up about it all…. and just received my new iPhone a few days ago… PAC has now been used, so the termination of my account will now be in full swing

    Sent them another letter today advising the out of contract charges of £350 is an outrage, and to issue court proceedings immediately :)

    See you in court Vodafone!!!

  21. i been 6month contract withe vodafone for 24months iphone 3gs i want just asking if i can cancel my contract

  22. tanks for evryone

  23. Posted by Yakkity October 22, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    Well I’ve hit stalemate. After some email exchange with the Director’s office, they have decided to use my August usage as an example of how my bill won’t increase by more than 10%. Of course, ignoring the fact that when I originally wrote to them, my most recent billed usage was 1.5Gb and my September usage was 1.6Gb. August was under 500Mb because I was on holiday for 2 weeks. My contract is up in February anyway but it is now a matter of principle.

    Their most recent email reads :

    “Further to my previous email Vodafone’s final position has not changed.

    Kind regards

    Katy Brys”

    So I guess I have 3 options :

    - pay ETF, get my PAC and then reclaim money via Small Claims Court
    - see out my contract
    - make a complaint to the Ombudsman (Otelo)

    Any suggestions?

  24. Posted by Alec October 28, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    @Yakkity – Im the same… except I have already used my PAC code. and they have lumped the ETF on my final bill.
    Im simply going to speak to Otelo tomorrow, and go and see a solicitor… Im sure you can get out of your contract anyways just because they have simply changed your T&Cs?????

    either way Im not going to pay and theyll have to take me to court for it

  25. You you could change the post title Vodafone’s new Out of Bundle charges: how to cancel your contract | BitterWallet to more catching for your content you create. I liked the post withal.

  26. Posted by Paul November 19, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Very interesting stuff – I’ve only just become aware of this as I only receives the ‘nearing 500Mb allowance’ text on 16/11 – prior to this, I have had no communication from Vodafone as to these changes. Today I’ve spent over an hour to VF CS and the gist of the conversation went;

    - out of bundle charging has always been in T&C’s, just not enforced (I was sent a copy of T&C’s from April 2008 – before my contract started)
    - VF have not changed contract or T&C’s but have clarified what charging for ‘excessive or abusive’ internet usage will be (FYI my data for this month with be approximately 520Mb so really excessive !!!
    - VF will automatically charge customers if / when they exceed the ‘hard’ limits within their contracts – no discussions, no requests to ‘moderate your usage’
    - VF CS are adamant that nothing has changed in contract or T%C’s therefore there is no way to cancel a contract with incurring Early Termination Fees

    There was a lot more of the same but in the end, I got fed up hearing the same answers so told the CS rep that I would write to VF directly cancelling as they were in breach of contract (by changing definition / application of FUP rules, not informing me 30 days before the change) and that I would be Significantly Disadvantaged as my next months bill will be 33% higher than the previous months.

    I’m going to keep watching this thread as I have a another few days to wait until my latest bill (with additional data charges) has been published.

  27. Posted by Yakkity November 19, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Good luck – familiar story with getting nowhere with the CS drones. I managed to get a PAC code from them – although they said I would have to pay an ETF if I used it. Well, use it I did and am eagerly awaiting their ‘bill’ to which I shall again tell them to shove it up their collective arses.

    Yakkity – a very happy Orange customer :)

  28. Posted by tara December 26, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    this makes me laugh at how many are leaving because of a policy change – where will you go as all providers will be doing the same if not now very shortly – if your happy with a service for voice & data stick with it – if you wanna take the piss & use your phone as a router then mobile networks are just not for you im afraid – a 500mb allowance is a reasonable allowance.. after all if it wasnt for the pea takers the mobile networks would not have set these limits

  29. Posted by Yakkity January 10, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Yes, at last! After getting my 2nd reminder threatening debt collection, and no response to a 2nd recorded delivery letter, I phoned their billing dept, and after a 10 minute talk explaining all over again why I wasn’t paying an ETF, they have agreed to remove it from the account.

    Victory is mine! Mwuahahaha!

  30. Posted by Belinda January 18, 2011 at 5:42 am

    @ Yakkity, please does this cancellation apply only to those who use the internet? I am in a contract with vodafone for 300mins and unlimited text but if i wanted internet, i needed to pay which I totally refuse to use and thus i have not been charged. But i remember receiving a notifcation saying there would be an increase in VAT. I have been using this contract since feb 2010 and I have 13more months to go. Does this termination apply to me?

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