T-Mobile reduce data allowance for customers from 1st February
UPDATE - after just two days, T-Mobile have reversed their decision to change the data allowances of existing customers. See our latest post for the full details.
There are lots of emails flying in at the moment from avid Bitterwallet readers, concerning an SMS message sent to customers this morning by T-Mobile.
The message states that from 1st February, the fair use policy amount for internet on a customer's phone will be reduced to 500MB a month. There's also a link to their website, which provides more detail:
Changes to Mobile Internet fair use policies
T-Mobile is the only operator to give customers the Mobile Internet for a fixed-price. We never charge our customer's more than they expect for their Mobile Internet in the UK.
Therefore you'll never need to worry about how many emails you've sent, how long you've been on-line or the ‘data / GB’s’
Browsing means looking at websites and checking email, but not watching videos, downloading files or playing games. We’ve got a fair use policy but ours means that you'll always be able to browse the internet, it’s only when you go over the fair use amount that you won’t be able to download, stream and watch video clips.
So Whats Changing? - From 1st February 2011 we will be aligning our fair use policies so our mobile internet service will have fair use of 500MB.
What Does This Mean? - We’ll always let you email and browse the internet and you’ll never pay more than you agree to. We do have a fair use policy but ours is there to make sure we deliver the best service possible to all our customers. This means that you’ll always be able to browse the internet.
So remember our Mobile Broadband and internet on your phone service is best used for browsing which means looking at your favorite websites like Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, BBC News and more, checking your email and looking for information, but not watching videos or downloading files.
If you want to download, stream and watch video clips, save that stuff for your home broadband.
The issue we're hearing from several readers so far, is that this is a massive cut in the data allowance; some customers were sold Android handsets with a Fair Use Policy of 3Gb. Matt is one of them:
As an Android user I have a 3Gb allowance and regularly use a good percentage of it. I called this morning to get confirmation of this. When the customer service representative reiterated that my data allowance would indeed drop to 500Mb I requested termination of my contract. I was informed that would not be possible as the FUP was not part of my contract and was subject to change. I replied that surely it must be part of my contract as it was the advertised allowance and one of the reasons I decided to choose T-Mobile. The representative stated this was not the case and again stated that no cancellation was possible.
Just prior to e-mailing you I called again to check and received exactly the same information. The representative, Alex, said that customers will be notified by text message over the coming days. However he also asked me to “hang on for a few days because we’re not sure how this is really going to work”.
When Vodafone attempted a similar change last year, the FUP was clearly part of the contract Terms. What's going on with T-Mobile? The Fair Use Policy on the T-Moble website is written to suggest the FUP and 3Gb allowance (as in Matt's example) is inclusive, yet refers to it as "internet on your phone Plus":
Pay monthly plans which include internet on your phone on an Android phone
You'll get internet on your phone Plus included if you join us on a pay monthly plan with an Android phone in a T-Mobile store, over the phone or via our website, t-mobile.co.uk.
Remember that you can only use your internet on your phone Plus Booster in the UK and you can't use your phone as a modem or use Internet on your phone Plus for peer to peer file sharing, or making internet phone calls. *Internet on your phone Plus comes with a fair use policy of 3GB a month.
Boosters are what T-Mobile call "additional services", meaning those extras you add on top of your tariff, services that T-Mobile didn't agree to supply when the contract began. But this booster was sold inclusive of the contracted tariff; reader Paul points out that the T-Mobile site is still selling its tariffs in exactly the same way, with a free booster that's inclusive to the contract agreed with the customer:
It doesn't help matters that T-Mobile confuse their terminology; the Booster named in the Fair Use Policy is "internet on your phone Plus", but on the bills that both Matt and Paul have sent to us it's "web'n'walk Plus" - they may be a different service, but T-Mobile's Fair Use Policy doesn't mention web'n'walk Plus anywhere on it.
What is evident is that the service is inclusive to the tariff; neither Paul nor Matt pay any additional charges for the service, just one lump sum every month.
Cast your mind back to last summer, when O2 announced it was reducing its data allowance to 500Mb. Many customers had tariffs which included inclusive unlimited web bolt-ons (the Simplicity tariff, for example). However, O2 also announced the only customers that would be affected by the change would be new customers and those upgrading. Presumably this was because that while unlimited data allowance was an additional service, it was sold as a service inclusive to the monthly tariff.
Our thinking is this - a service that has no monetary value attached to it, that is included as part of the minimum monthly tariff, cannot also be an additional service. If the FUP is not part of a customer's contract, then how is it dictating the usage of a service sold as part of the contract?
We'll keep looking into this and update you as and when we have anything new to report; in the meantime, please send any details of dealings you have with T-Mobile to [email protected]