Are Vodafone backpeddling over automatic data charges? No?
After days of failing to address the concerns of their customers over their mandatory data charges and scrapping their Fair Usage Policy, Vodafone have contradicted themselves yet again, with a message that seemingly goes back on everything they've said.
The first time we read that statement, we took it to mean Vodafone had a change of heart, that the Fair Use Policy would remain in place - customers who repeatedly go over the 500MB will receive several month's grace before any charges are applied, which is in keeping with the current agreement.
Then again, the wording is very particular in being ambiguous, and it's easy to believe Vodafone are simply trying to dress up the new charges to dampen down the protests of customers. Another point is that the wording is so ambiguous that consumer law would probably cite Vodafone as acting unfairly; as a definition of service it's "open to challenge if it could put you at a disadvantage because you are not clear about its meaning".
There's also the fact that numerous customers are reporting on the Vodafone eForums being told the exact opposite by Customer Services:
"I've spent 45 minutes on the phone to #191 because I had no answers to my questions on here and they are telling me I will be charged if I go over the 500mb. I come here to update and I am reading something completely different." Davie1
"I spent over an hour and a half on the phone with 191 yesterday during two calls. The first was about 30 mins and the person I ended up speaking with (Amy Scott) confirmed that the new pricing structure of £5 per additional 500MB would affect me but that they were unable to process my termination." AndyWicks
Vodafone have now contacted Bitterwallet through Twitter (after ignoring previous emails and phonecalls), so we've sent four very straight forward questions for them to answer:
- Will affected customers still retain a Fair Use Policy in their agreement after 1 June?
- Will affected customers be automatically charged if their monthly uses strays over 500MB?
- Can you please define "excessive use"? This term defines whether a customer is liable for additional charges or not, and despite constant requests from customers, Vodafone are yet to explain it.
- Can you please provide a real-life example of a customer who reads and replies to 10,000 emails, reads 8,000 BBC news stories and uses no mobile applications whatsoever? You're currently justifying a 500MB data limit with a completely fictional example of usage. Vodafone are suggesting that customers who buy smartphones don't use applications.
We'll let you know what they have to say.