9 questions answered by Vodafone that still say nothing
Yesterday dinnertime, Vodafone's Customer Service team invited Bitterwallet to contact them so they could clarify the situation concerning their changes to data charges. Over a day later we've still heard nothing, which pretty much sums up Vodafone's handling of their announcement concerning Out of Bundle data charges.
An official post appeared this afternoon on Vodafone's eForums, answering some of the hundreds of questions and complaints that have been posted in the past week (the thread now has over 1,000 posts). It still attempts to employ smoke and mirrors to confuse customers:
1. The 3% of customers who use their 500MB, is this 3% of highend smartphone users? or people with old nokia 6600s?
It's 3% of people with a Mobile Internet Bundle on their account. Normally the only time we'd sell such a bundle would be with an internet ready device, so it's fair to assume a large percentage of these will be smartphones.
My Nokia N73 had an internet bundle on it. It wasn't a smartphone by any stretch, certainly not in comparison to current handsets. It's fair to assume these usage figures would look different if Vodafone cared to quote actual percentages.
2. What constitutes 'excessive'?
It's anything in excess of 500MB on a standard Mobile Internet bundle.
This is, of course, on Vodafone World, where nobody watches video, streams music, or uses any other data-intensive web applications. The sky is yellow, cars are made of marshmallows, and unicorns shit rainbows and gold. And bravo for getting around to defining the term you're using to justify the new charges you announced... er... last week.
3. How many months constitutes 'a few'?
You will receive a text alert informing you that you’re close to exceeding your monthly allowance. If you continue to exceed your allowance the following month, you will be contacted and we will discuss your options (which may include upgrading to a Mobile Broadband bundle for example). If after this you will continue using your data out of bundle you may incur charges (as per our announcement).
So the answer is three months, then? If you exceed your data allowance for three months in a row, you'll be charged for the third month. Is this based on usage in consecutive months only? What happens if you exceed your limit for two months, then don't the following month - can you exceed it the next month and not be charged? It's that sort of detail you need to think about before continuing to fart out these announcements.
4. How long is "a longer period of time"?
As per 3)
ANSWER THE QUESTION.
5. Why does the Nexus tariff include 1GB but the Desire only gets 50% of that?
Different products come with different packages, we're always reviewing our offers and will let you know if anything changes.
Here's a better question - why are you even offering a 1GB data allowance on a near-identical phone when you keep claiming next-to-nobody uses that much data?
6. Will affected customers still retain a Fair Use Policy in their agreement after 1 June?
There will be an allowance (just like there is now) and if you exceed that, you will be contacted, consulted and may incur charges along the timescales as per 3). The Terms and Conditions say that you would be (see under data access).
Was that a yes or a no? You're about to trip yourselves up. I wonder if you've spotted it yet?
7. Will affected customers be automatically charged if their monthly uses strays over 500MB?
Please see 3).
Talk to your staff, Vodafone. Your own forums are riddled with accounts of customers being told they'll be automatically charged following the changes. You're still contradicting yourselves.
8. 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.
The figures given were to illustrate the volumes for the vast majority of customers, but it's almost impossible to give an accurate example as everyone uses their phone differently. I posted here demonstrating my own usage. I've just updated the post to give a more accurate measurement, but it shows that with the two smartphones I've used I havent' excelled 500MB before. Again, everybody's usage is different though, so I'm not saying all of yours will be the same as mine.
Hey, this is our question! So let's have a look at it. Oh.
"The figures given were to illustrate the volumes for the vast majority of customers..."
Newsflash - they do no such thing. They're don't illustrate anything because customers have no frame of reference. It not how people use smartphones, therefore the example is entirely irrelevant.
"It's almost impossible to give an accurate example as everyone uses their phone differently"
What? And the example you keep giving is accurate? Come on, Vodafone, statements like this are taking the pure piss out of every customer you have. How about an example that recognises users may stream video or audio, or use any sort of data-intensive applications? Your current example doesn't even accept that applications even exist - how accurate is that?
9) Have vodafone changed any of the wording in their T&C's?
These are our current Terms and Conditions. See under data access, we have always said customers would be charged for excessive use.
And there you are. The current terms don't say customers would be charged for excessive use. There's lots of stuff about how Vodafone may ask customers to moderate their usage, and reserve the right to charge - nothing whatsoever to say Vodafone would charge. In fact, there are dozens of examples of people using more than 500MB and never being charged - the point being that a Fair Usage Policy allows this degree of flexibility. By stating anything over 500MB is 'excessive usage', that removes any ambiguity and there renders the Fair Use Policy null and void.
Then again, Vodafone have only just got around to defining what 'excessive use' actually means - and according to a senior manager, that only happened today. He also stated it's "highly unlikely" customers won't be charged if they use 600MB a month, so how the hell is anybody meant to have any clue about what they might be paying?
Complicating the issue further is Vodafone's decision to remove the term 'unlimited' from their tariffs, despite plenty of customers believing they signed tariffs that allowed unlimited data, a promise that, according to many customers, was seemingly reiterated by Vodafone staff.
Finally, there's still the point that Vodafone are still talking about making changes to the standard terms and conditions. If they modify the standard terms, they have to give customers 30 days notice, rather than the 14 days they are still yet to give in time for 1 June when the new charges begin; therefore Vodafone are still in breach of their own terms, and those of Ofcom, too.
Sorry Vodafone, but your story still hase more gaping holes than a hen party in Hull.