Vodafone's timeline of gaffes, and proof their data limit stinks
We haven't posted about Vodafone since last Friday, after an intense week of news and views on their attempts to impose strict usage terms on customers, as well as introduce new charges for data.
Unfortunately, there's nothing more to say right now. Vodafone claimed they were going to give customers 14 days notice of the changes and charges (instead of the required 30 days), which means customers should have been notified yesterday in time for 1 June; notification through Vodafone's eForums won't count since Vodafone haven't actively contacted all customers.
That leaves two possibilities:
- Vodafone are going to attempt to push through the changes and new charges on 1 June (charges which many forum members claim were never outlined to begin with) without officially notifying existing customers
- Vodafone have decided not to make the changes yet, or at all
There's nothing more to say until Vodafone make a move or the changes appear, so hang tight if you're a Vodafone customer.
In the meantime, you'll remember that we accused Vodafone of misleading customers by giving irrelevent examples of data usage for smartphones. Senior management conceded that they'd "would look into it" but the truth is their examples didn't mention how much data mobile apps use, because it would highlight how paltry a 500MB limit it is.
Want proof? This appeared in today's Metro newspaper, and was sent to us by Bitterwallet reader Dan:
If you don't recognise it, it's a Vodafone ad. Two YouTube videos a day, and that's it - no more data unless you're willing to pay.
This is why customers are fighting Vodafone; if they get away with these changes, it means many customers won't be able to use their mobile in a regular, normal way - in the present, or for the remainder of the contract. The topic in Vodafone's forums now stands at over 1,500 posts; let's see what happens next. Until then, here's the timeline of Vodafone gaffes and U-turns in the past fortnight:
- On 6 May, there was an announcement in the Vodafone eForums that suggested they intended to scrap the Fair Use Policy that allowed customers to routinely use data beyond the 500MB 'fair use' threshold without additional charges; Vodafone also announced new charges for customers that broke this threshold. This was all to occur from 1 June.
- On 7 May, a statement from Vodafone staff confirmed Vodafone would amend customer agreements to this effect, but that some customers would have the right to cancel-without-penalty; this statement has now been removed from Vodafone's forums (you can read it here)
- On 9 May, a press release appeared that spun the detail to present the changes as a benefit to customers, by warning them if they're were likely to exceed their allowance; the press release was backdated two days earlier, but didn't appear anywhere on that date
- Two days later on 11 May, another statement - this time Vodafone appeared to be back-peddling furiously, denying the Fair Use Policy would be scrapped, instead stating they'd merely be enforcing the agreed terms, while also claiming 97% of customers never reach their data limit
- By this point the topic on Vodafone's forums had attracted over 1,000 posts. Customers provided proof that Vodafone staff had stated in writing, time and time again, that the 500MB allowance was a guideline only, in place to penalise customers who used their data for file-sharing or as a modem, and that Vodafone would categorically not use the Fair Use Policy to restrict customers from using their smartphone and its applications. Many customers claim that this was how the tariff was sold to them.
- Vodafone attempted (again) to make the problem go away on 12 May, with a new statement claiming to answer customer questions, which entirely failed to do so - the 97% claim is made again, this time specifically about customers with 500MB allowances
- On 14 May, Vodafone finally responded to our questions, admitting; the 97% claim concerned all data allowances, not just 500MB but far higher allowances, too (meaning it was a misleading statistic used out of context); that Vodafone did intend to modify the terms of its contract (meaning they'd be in breach of their own contract and Ofcom's general Conditions for not giving 30 days' notice to customers). Vodafone also claimed they no longer advertised "unlimited" packages for their mobiles (although they still did).