When unlimited mobile internet can be legitimately limited.

8 August 2012

Giffgaffimage1-150x150We all know how the definition of ‘unlimited’ varies depending on whether you are an internet user or internet provider. However, mobile network operator giffgaff have just won a case that explains exactly when unlimited is allowed to be limited.

Giffgaff was accused of misleading customers who reported the company to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), for advertising ‘unlimited’ mobile data plans that were actually capped.

Eight customers complained about giffgaff’s £10, £15 and £20 goodybag plans which offer unlimited mobile data for a month. They claimed they had been disconnected from data service after being warned they were using too much data. Which was kind of contrary to the offer of unlimited data.

The ASA did support their complaint, but has now ruled in favour of giffgaff who claimed these eight rogue individuals had been using the service ‘illegitimately’.  Now ‘illegitimate’ is another one of those word (like unlimited) that could potentially have any number of definitions. Just ask any bastard. However, giffgaff’s position was supported by the ASA as these users hadn’t paid enough attention to the small print. Giffgaff’s terms and conditions state that unlimited data must be for personal use and that SIMs can’t be used in other devices such as dongles or "if you do anything or permit anyone else to do anything which we reasonably think adversely impacts the Service to other giffgaff customers or may adversely affect the Network". Note, however, that the help page of their website also stated, in answer to the question “What is the fair use policy?”  that “if you have the £10, £15 of £20 goodybag (i.e. wherever we say that data is unlimited) then there is NO Fair use policy ... Unlimited - At giffgaff 'unlimited' means 'unlimited', so play fair and play nice, so it stays that way".

So, how did giffgaff know these eight users were not using data for personal use? According to the ASA’s adjudication giffgaff explained that they would suspend customers using over 1GB an hour and contact them to ensure they were using the service legitimately. If they were, service would be restored. This was contrary to the evidence of one complainant who claims he confirmed he was not illegitimate, and was then told that “his usage was still too high and his service would be disconnected if the usage rate continued.”

The ASA noted the situation above, but found this to be a customer service fail, rather than misleading advertising, and that the user had, in fact, been disconnected due to an adverse impact on the network. The ASA said:

“we noted the terms and conditions outlined that the service must not be used for tethering or connecting to other devices. We considered that this was a fair condition and was not contrary to what the average consumer would understand from an unlimited mobile internet service.

“We also considered the condition that the service would not be used ‘in such a way that adversely impacts the service to other gifgaff customers’ was, when used correctly, an acceptable condition.”

The ASA further accepted that giffgaff do not have a fair use policy that would impinge on a “normal consumer’s” unlimited data use.

TOPICS:   Advertising   Privacy   Mobile


  • bushbrother
    Sounds fair to me, 1GB/hour is taking the piss if your claiming that is "personal use". I regularly clock >3GB a month and never have issues.
  • Tony
    We did a bit of a test a while ago and reached 20GB over a month and had no problems
  • BaceFook
    I was with Giffgaff for a while and had no issues with exceeding a monthly limit, I did have issues with the speed of the internet though. It was regularly at a snails pace so there would of been no chance in hell I could of downloaded 1GB in a day let alone an hour.
  • Sicknote
    Fair play to GAFFGUFF, if scumbags take the piss out of your network with their illegal downloads of Afghan goat & cow porn then cut them off
  • Nick-oh-Larse
    1gb an hour is 744gb a month. How on earth can you even attempt to justify that? I'd say that was excessive.
  • Raggedy
    I don't think GiffGaff went far enough. They should have strung up the 1GB an hour using geezer and sliced his nadgers off. Freeloadin' scumsucking waster.
  • DanelM
    @To All The GiffGaff Fanboys Its quiet easy to use 1GB in an hour netflix for example. And just because you dont agree with and dont use alot of BW do.esnt make it the same for everyone. @Nick No one uses 744GB what the point would have been is they may use 1 or 2GB for that hour and would get suspended. "I don’t think GiffGaff went far enough. They should have strung up the 1GB an hour using geezer and sliced his nadgers off. Freeloadin’ scumsucking waster." Just because u dont use that much doesnt make it bad. dam GG fanboy
  • Joe B.
    So giffgaff admit to the ASA that their customer service is shit and their employees are making mistakes. Way to go.
  • Mercool M.
    So GiffGaff are claiming that in the cases of these 8 customers their customer services "agents" gave the wrong information.... these are just the 8 that had the balls to make a external complaint, having obviously hit a wall with NaffNaff's own systems. Whilst they also claim to the ASA that the process is triggered at 1GB/hour (which should indeed be more than any legitimate user needs) evidence posted by members on their own forum shows they are routinely banning people for much lower, "normal" use. As per Joe Bloggs (above) they are making a pigs ear of the whole thing.
  • Brian p.
    I dont tether,stream etc etc etc etc; i use my i phone for radio 4Xtra; is that "unfair usage..??? Fuck off, you morons...If you are so good, why the ceaseless stream of complaints from pissed off users...??

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