Can I cancel my Vodafone contract? New statement on new data charges, but they're still wrong

8 May 2010

Bitterwallet - Vodafone scrap data fair usage policy for mobilesYesterday we highlighted Vodafone's dramatic scrapping of their Fair Use Policy for mobile data, and merry hell has been played ever since. The changes to customer contracts will reverse the long standing policy of a 'soft' 500MB-per-month limit for mobile phone customers, a policy that meant customers weren't penalised for occasionally straying over that limit, and one had been confirmed in writing on numerous occasions by Vodafone staff.

From 1 June, however, customers will be charged for any and all data usage above 500MB, thereby ending any notion of a Fair Use Policy. The news broke in Vodafone's own forums on Wednesday; customers weren't told of the changes to the terms or the new charges beforehand. Vodafone went on to tell customers they had no choice but to accept the changes:

Bitterwallet - Vodafone deny changes to terms

But then at 5pm last night, Vodafone stated the exact opposite on their forums, admitting there would be changes to the core agreement of customer's policies, and that some may qualify for a refund:

Here are the answers to the questions you've raised.

Definition of excessive use?
Excessive use is listed in the current Terms and Conditions and applies for now, but when Out Of Bundle charging is introduced, the terms will be amended and so this won’t apply.

Will I be allowed to cancel my account under Clause 7?
We’ ll be giving you 14 days' notice before introducing Out Of Bundle charging which complies with clause 7a. You'll be entitled to end your contract if you can show that the introduction of the new charges has increased your total call and usage charges by more than 10%. This needs to be compared to the same amount of usage in the previous month. You must also write to us within the 14 day window indicating that you want to end your contract. (Address: Vodafone UK, Vodafone House, The Connection, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2FN).

So let's take a look at this statement:

The 'current Terms and Conditions' mentioned are the Vodafone Your Plan Price Plan Terms we referred to yesterday; these form part of your core agreement with Vodafone, as the terms clearly state - that means they do not govern any additional or 'out of bundle' services, but those services bundled into your monthly price plan. It also means that changes to these core terms and services can allow customers to cancel their contract without penalty; something you can't do if a service is 'out of bundle'.

Nowhere in these terms is there a 'definition of excessive use', although it has been defined in writing by Vodafone themselves on numerous occasions, as we mentioned yesterday. The phrase is only referred to in Clause 27:

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;

What Vodafone said in yesterday's statement is that the 'terms will be amended and so this won’t apply.' In other words, they are going to remove an entire clause from the contract you agreed - the Fair Use Policy - which represents a significant and material change to your core agreement.

Next, when should Vodafone have told you this? According to them, they can give you 14 days notice of the change, and refer you to Clause 7a in the Pay Monthly Airtime Terms - another core part of your agreement with them. In fact Vodafone have been selective in their quotation of the terms, because a closer look at Clause 7 reveals:

7 Changing charges and terms
a We may change our charges or introduce new charges. If we increase our charges, we will give you at least 14 days' notice and you may have a right to end this agreement under clause 11. If we believe any change in our charges will not disadvantage you, we may include it without telling you.

b We can make changes to or withdraw services at any time and we can make changes to or introduce new terms to this agreement at any time. We will give you at least 30 days’ notice of these changes if we do and you may have a right to end this agreement under clause 11.

Vodafone are introducing mandatory data charges, so they've chosen to interprete their own terms to mean they can give you 14 days notice. However they've already admitted they're changing the terms of your core agreement in order to introduce these charges; "changes to... terms to this agreement" require 30 days' notice according to 7b, and therefore by not telling customers (the only announcement has been in an online forum so far, for changes due on 1 June) Vodafone are in breach of contract.

Finally, let's look at the relevant sections of Clause 11:

11.2. You may end this Agreement by writing to us if:

(c) we increase your Charges in the UK which have the effect of increasing your total call and usage charges (based upon your usage in the previous month) by more than 10% and you write to us before the increase takes effect; or

(d) we change this Agreement to your significant disadvantage including the change or withdrawal of Services (we will tell you if this is the case) and you write to us within one month of us telling you about the change. This does not apply where the change relates to Services which can be cancelled without termination of this Agreement.

In both statements on the matter (here and here) Vodafone have stated they are 'introducing Out of bundle charging' - they're not increasing charges, they're introducing them. There's a question as to whether Clause 7c is even relevant in the first place - it simply does not refer to the 'introduction of new charges' as Vodafone states in their latest statement, and instead refers to existing charges you've already agreed to as part of your core agreement, charges governed by a Fair Use Policy which didn't see customers automatically charged for excess data use.

Clause 11d, however, is absolutely relevant - Vodafone are changing your agreement and it will cause a significant disadvantage; Vodafone is restricting your future use of your handset. Without a Fair Use Policy, you can no longer use data on your handset without the possibility of being forced to pay an additional amount or having to curtail your usage. You won't be able to use data-intensive applications that may mean occasionally using more than 500MB, like Spotify or Google Maps Navigation, or any similar apps released between June and the end of your contract, which in some cases is 23 months away. The difference between the occasional use of additional data and wholescale abuse has until now being distinct, a distinction embodied by a Fair Use Policy and repeated by Vodafone staff over and over again.

So to be clear what's happening here; Vodafone are attempting to remove a key clause from your contract, without your consent, thereby removing all the benefits that clause has previously allowed, without your consent, and replace it with mandatory charges, after breaching their own contract by not providing the agreed amount of notice. The statements they have released, and those made on Twitter yesterday, are incorrect by the letter of their own terms.

Of course Vodafone need to consider all their customers and manage data usage in a fair manner. But why do this to exisiting customers? Why not introduce the changes for new customers and move on? If you've dealt with Vodafone concerning this matter, let us know how you got on, and we'll look into escalating matters further.

TOPICS:   How To Guides   Mobile


  • Richard
    Hi, i'm not even with vodafone, I got a 3gs with O2 because I couldn't wait for orange and vodafone to get it :-P, but i'm really impressed with the effort bitterwallet puts into issues like this. It's not like you're readers are paying you for doing this but you have obviously put some time and effort into giving them really useful advice anyway. Nice one BW :-D
  • CopyMyNameIfYouAreGay
    I agree with Richard - it's stuff like this that compensates for the RyanAir, Apple and Flake articles
  • issac h.
    I'm also with Richard on this one, BW have some real WTF moments, but come good on stuff like this.
  • Josh
    Hi, I'm looking for some advice regarding this. I'm on Vodafone and use at least 600MB per month data usage for work (it's a personal contract though). I currently pay £30 a month for my contract including VAT, with the new change that would be an increase of more than 10% to my monthly bill. My previous bills prove that I regularly exceed the 500MB threshold. Does this mean that I am within my rights to cancel my contract with Vodafone? Josh
  • andy y.
    vodafone are dicks for making comments on twitter.they should change the t&c's and just stonewall everyone until it comes to court. pussies
  • chatty
    do you think it would be possible to end my contract even though I don't use any internet data?
  • Codify
    Wow, a decent article. Well done guys.
  • parpparp
    Also they are implying that if you cancel your contract you must return your phone. Is that right? Or is that another deception?
  • Dimebars
    I was of the impression that if you cancel the phone doesnt need to be returned. My OH did this a while back with 3 and kept the handset after cancelling. I am with Vodafone and use the net regularly on my HTC Magic, but have no idea how much I use. Seems that Vodafone will wriggle and squirm as much as possible to avoid the avalanche of cancellations.
  • Looks F.
    [...] [...]
  • aaron c.
    They told me that it was just an error and that the only change is that when you approach 500mb they will send you a txt to let you know
  • Jim
    Aaron, they sent text messages out earlier this week to some people - this is what they are referring to when they say it was an error. The FUP cap change is being enforced as of June 1st.
  • Brad
    I think it's time any company that use's the word 'Unlimited' should be banned from doing this now, how can something be unlimited but have a certain limit? In any other form of advertising these lies would be banned full stop, why can mobile/broadband company's get away with it?
  • Brucey034
    Would it be possible for somebody with some legal knowledge to draft a letter we can use ?
  • David
    Wow, Great efforts in the post, lest hope many Voafone customers read this before June 1st
  • blarg
    i'm looking at upgrading my phone very shortly, would i be right in presuming that vodafone wouldn't be stupid enough to let me upgrade now, and cancel my contract by june 1st? i just really want the HTC desire, but I want to be on O2, because I can get discount with them
  • cookie
    To those who complain: I would hate Bitterwallet if all it's articles were like this. The funny ones are what keeps me coming back!
  • mo
    You lost me yesterday
  • mo
  • brian's u.
    BW helped me cancel my Orange contract last year. Best of luck with your applications to Vodafone and I hope you get to cancel the contracts and tell Vodafone where to shove it. It seems like Vodafone have made the same mistake as Orange did last year. Long live Bitter Wallet!
  • brian's u.
    Vent your anger on Vodafone's facebook page, if you have a Facebook page!/topic.php?uid=67884984384&topic=16333
  • Paul S.
    Brucey034 - we'll have a letter prepared for you early next week. In the meantime, I can't stress enough how helpful it'd be if you can report back with details of any details or correspondence you've have with Vodafone. If you do contact them, remember to be civil throughout, and resist the temptation to embellish the story. It'd help us to understand how we can best help you. Cheers!
  • James
    So if I manage to cancel the contract with vodafone, do I still get to keep the phone?
  • James
    Paul, I think there may be an updated Pay Monthly Airtimes terms and conditions located here: The details are the same but I think the significant clause is 11(b), not 11.2(c) or 11.2(d)
  • Dank
    Looks like those of us who regularly go over the 500MB cap will be able to cancel:
  • Ryan
    I rang them and i was told because i used only average of 200mb i wont be able to cancel! i said its a fundamental change to the terms i signed up for and the woman said i cant. I told her i shall seek advice from my solciitors. Im only a student but the only reason i dont go over the 500mb is because i use my house wifi - and thats only because vodafone internet is fucking shit!!! So someone let me know whats happening please! i hate these shit bags! no more contracts for me only pay as you go!!!
  • Alan P.
    Their assertion that you must actually receive a larger bill to dispute the T&Cs should be called into question. The discussed changes would materially increase your chances of receiving a *much* larger bill, and thus constitute a material change in risk.
  • Ten B.
    [...] Vodafone make a change to customers’ contracts – do you have the right to cancel? [...]
  • Matt
    VF Official Statement form the eForum: Hi Everyone, Just a quick update to consolidate all the information we've given over the last few days and clarify a few points. Firstly, a lot of the feedback from you all is that we've not notified you of the change. We haven't even officially announced the change yet and will notify everyone well in advance of doing so. The text messages received by you were sent in error, so nobody will be charged this month. We will be introducing texts message alerts as of June 1st, and we will notify all customers of that 14 days before as per our Terms and Conditions. There's no need to worry about this change, as only a very tiny percentage of our customers actually exceed 500MB of data usage in a month. Here's the official statement detailing the changes: Vodafone UK to give customers total control of their mobile data spend 7 May 2010 In June we'll be introducing a free text service to tell our contract customers when they're approaching the upper limit of their data bundle. We'll send them a text before they reach the limit and tell them how much it will cost them to use more data. Customers can then make a decision on whether to continue, or limit their use, giving them total control of their spend. Handheld bundles range between 500MB and 1GB. 500MB means you can read and reply to 10,000 emails, download 24 Google maps and read 8,000 BBC News stories. Today, a tiny fraction of our customers use their full allowance. If customers do find that they’re approaching the end of their bundle the costs are as follows: Current charge Out of bundle charge No handheld data bundle 50p a day for 25MB 50p for an additional 10MB Handheld data bundle £5 a month, or £7.50 with a flexi-bundle £5 for an additional 500MB Since the initial information given on the eForum, some questions were asked, which we answer here: Definition of excessive use? Excessive use is listed in the current Terms and Conditions and applies for now, but when Out Of Bundle charging is introduced, the terms will be amended and so this won’t apply. Will I be allowed to cancel my account under Clause 7? We’ ll be giving you 14 days' notice before introducing Out Of Bundle charging which complies with clause 7a. You'll be entitled to end your contract if you can show that the introduction of the new charges has increased your total call and usage charges by more than 10%. This needs to be compared to the same amount of usage in the previous month. You must also write to us within the 14 day window indicating that you want to end your contract. (Address to write to is: Vodafone House, The Connection, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2FN) When will I receive the notice/when would the Ts&Cs change? You will receive a notification SMS well in advance of any changes taking place Why is there one allowance for the iPhone and Nexus One and another for the rest of the Smartphones you range? This is because we offer different price plans with different handsets. Thanks, Tom eForum Team
  • Ashley
    Imagine if it was the other way round and us consumers felt we could just make changes to our contracts! Do you think Vodafone would let us get away with it?
  • Josh G.
    Just spoke to Vodafone Customer Service asking if I was entitled to cancel, they looked at my current usage and saw that I was close to 2GB each month and so they offered me the 1GB package at no extra charge! I said thanks but no thanks, I'd rather go with T-mobile where there is a much larger data limit. The guy said yeah that's absolutely fine, just write in to us within the 14 day limit and you are completely within your rights to cancel your contract. Thanks Bitter Wallet, (I only had 4 months left on my 18 month contract anyway), it'll have saved me £40 over the remaining period of my contract! Josh
  • Data B.
    [...] what will be a massively sought-after product, in the same week they announced their intention to scrap their Fair Use Policy for all mobile customers. They’ll pick up some customers from the iPad through consumer loyalty, but they certainly [...]
  • Jono
    What if I bought my contract knowing that I am likely to use large ammounts of data after I leave university (and lose access to their internet facilities) but thus far havn't used over 500mb? I finish uni this month, and I know i'll be using more than 500mb, but last month i only used 300mb! How can they say they base the next 19 months of my contract on the previous 30days usage? what if someone was abroad that month! its ridiculous! I need to cancel!
  • can f.
    [...] a look here buxz: Can I cancel my Vodafone contract? New statement on new data charges, but they’re still wrong ... __________________ I do not give instructions on how to bypass satnav copy protection. So [...]
  • Kevin
    I contacted voda, and they have accepted that with 11.2 I would be able to cancel the contract but I would be liable for a termination fee. Does this sound right? It seems if they are in breach of there own terms and conditions why should I have to pay a termination fee??
  • How B.
    [...] update you on what’s happened since our post on Saturday [...]
  • James
    would I be able to keep my phone if i cancel?
  • siobhan
    hey there i need some advice about my contract. i have had it 4 2 months and have been charged overdrafts because of vodafones mistake. i have been trying to cancel my contract and wen i speak 2 customer services they tell me i have t pay £1000. i have just wrote to them stating everything thats happened do you think i will be able to cancel my contract and get my overdraft money back???? vodafone have told me i cant get the money back but trading standards have said i can.
  • Vodafone’s B.
    [...] if customers would see an increase in their bill – that post has now been deleted, but you can read the text here – it clearly stated that Vodafone intended to modify the terms of customer contracts; if they [...]
    Hi, I just bought a vodafone 24m contract yesterday with a 'unlimted' data access as per Vodafone customer representative. I made the purchase in store. Can I cancel the contract witout incurring cancellation fees.
  • trelirodia
    Hi, Thank you very much for making this public and helping us sort this out. When we first signed up with VF we also had unlimited internet with a Nokia N900. Everything changed from the 1st of June though and we weren't sure what changed, until we stumbled on similar posts like this. I looked at the VF forum and I found this official announcement from VF on this issue. We called VF today and after about 30mins of intense negotiation we managed to double the now limited allowance to 1GB. The person we spoke to had no idea about this and we had to quote the post mentioned above in many occasions and insist that we want to keep the exact same plan as we have now, but with the 1GB allowance. This is not great and I am disappointed that I no longer have the unlimited data plan, but it is at least better than the 500MB and we didn't want to get into the process of canceling the contract etc. So my advice, read the post above well and make sure you understand what that means for your contract. When you call customer support have the above post at hand and be persistent. A lot of the times the employee has no idea about this issue and they will try to convince you to do something completely different. Good luck
  • Muz
    Just got a new contract with vodafone today with an iPhone. I moved from o2 because of rubbish 3G and phone signal at my place of work. Vodafone is worse!!! Can I cancel my contract for this reason?? Help please.
  • himish
    If i havent received the text can i still cancel
  • himish
    If i havent recieved the text can i cancel my contract
  • Vodafone B.
    [...] who we went toe-to-toe with not too long ago, have launched their own MiFi device called the R201. A crap but ultimately [...]
  • Bulman
    Am I right in thinking Vodafone are applying their own rules here which are not consistant with the law? Would be grateful for advice regarding this? Please see mails between myself and Vodafone below. Dear Katy. Vodafone did not write to me to inform me that I needed to send in my request to cancel before the 1st of October. I did not receive a text explaining this either? You seem to be ignoring the fact that Vodafone have made a material change to the original contract I signed and as explained puts me at a financial disadvantage. It is irrelevant that my letter of request to cancel reached Vodafone on the 1st of October. Are you seriously saying that because (by Vodafones rules) my letter reached you 1 day late that you are not prepared to consider my request? Can I also point out (as explained in my letter to you) that I have had considerable difficulty in obtaining the required information you request on your web site. I have been unable to view my bills online despite numerous phone calls and time spent trying to rectify this with your customer services departments. After requesting paper copies of June - July & July - August bills I was sent 2 identical copies of my June - July bill only, 1 of which I sent to you and the other I still have. I had to have my data usage read out to me by your customer service department in Cairo in order to include the information in my previous letter. It was as if Vodafone were making it difficult for me to obtain my required information? Please can you send by letter your refusal to release me from my contract for small claims court consideration? Kind regards. On 11 October 2010 16:02, Vodafone Directors Office wrote: Dear Mr xxxx, I am writing to you in reference to your recent correspondence to Vodafone regarding the new out of bundle charges for data. As our new charges came into place on the 1st of October, any requests to cancel would have needed to be received before this date. As we have not received this before the deadline we have been unable to review your case and so we are not in a position to cancel your account. To find more information on the charges you can go to Kind regards Katy Brys Customer Relations Advisor Shared Services Vodafone UK Vodafone Limited Registered Office: Vodafone House, The Connection, Newbury, Berkshire. RG14 2FN Registered in England No: 1471587
  • BlackBerry B.
    [...] you have a monthly contract with Vodafone or Three will be able to access iPlayer via the 3G mobile phone network. If not, then you’re [...]
  • Jennypha
    Hello, I've just been made aware of these changes as Vodafone took and extra £5 of my account. I have not been notified of any changes to my terms and conditions either in writing, text or email, so I have only just been made aware of this - can I still cancel within the 14 day period as far as I am concerned? I have used over 600mb in the past months and never been charged, they are trying to tell me that I've always had a 500mb cap - do they think we're all a bunch of idiots!
  • Jennypha
    You know, just rang VF for the second time today - it would be lovely to just once speak to someone who I can understand!!!!!!!!!! They obviously have phone centres offshore - Shame on them!
  • Houston l.
    It?s really a nice and helpful piece of information. I am glad that you simply shared this useful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

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