T-Mobile data allowance change - full statement
We'd been waiting to hear from T-Mobile's UK press office concerning yesterday's announcement, to the effect that the Fair Usage Policy (FUP) will be amended across all their tariffs.
Late last night - at nearly 10pm, we received the following statement:
“Earlier today we began notifying our contract customers of changes to their Fair Usage Policies (FUPs) relating to data usage on mobile phones. In line with the industry, T-Mobile will be reducing its FUP for data downloading to 500MB/month from 1st February 2011.
“These restrictions will affect both new and existing customers, and will ensure an improved quality of service for all of our mobile internet users. As the average mobile internet customer uses only 200MB of data each month, this will only affect a small minority of users, whom we have begun notifying.
“T-Mobile will not charge its customers additional rates for exceeding these data limits, and those who do will still be able to access important services such as email and website browsing, but will have file downloading restricted. Customers who have a need for higher volumes of data will be encouraged to take up a separate mobile broadband plan. We are confident that these changes will result in a better experience for all of our customers who use internet on their phone.”
This confirms what we already knew - all customers will be affected, new and existing. Once a customer reaches 500Mb, they'll only be able use their phone for T-Mobile's definition of 'browsing' - basic websites and email. All other activity - downloading, streaming, online gaming - will be blocked.
We've been through the average usage argument with Vodafone in the past; it's irrelevant, a smokescreen, and it's missing the point - that "small minority of customers" that the statement dismisses as unimportant equates to tens of thousands of customers that will be affected, if not more.
Our gut reaction, having been through this process several times already, is this:
• some customers pay an additional monthly amount for their 3Gb allowance, and that's a difficult case to argue against; T-Mobile will claim it is an additional service that can be cancelled without penalty
• However, for those customers that a) have the 3Gg allowance bundled into their basic monthly tariff, and b) can demonstrate that they have regularly used more than 500Mb of data a month in the past, we think there's probably a case to challenge T-Mobile, because this change will cause demonstrable material detriment to the customer, as outlined by Ofcom's General Conditions and consumer law.
That's just our first thoughts. We're now waiting for the press office to comment on another point, namely that customers have been told by operators that the FUP does not form part of their contract. We'll then take a look at the legalities of it. In the meantime, let us know of any conversations you have with T-Mobile customer services - they're often helpful to us. Perhaps you could share over on the discussion forums on Mobot.net, our new sister site, a mobile phone community.
Meanwhile, a little something from July last year, when Twitter user VillianROM asked T-Mobile whether the 3Gb allowance was at risk when the company merged with Orange. Um.