Virgin Mobile's new 30p per day "unlimited" web access

£9.12 a month for mobile web access sounds like a lot if yours is bundled into your contract. But break it down into a daily amount - 30 pence - and you have yourself a headline. Pity Virgin Mobile allowed their marketing monkeys to play fast and loose with it.

So yes, Virgin Mobile has a new 30p deal for customers on contract, that sounds stunningly affordable:

From the 8th December, you can get unlimited* web access for one simple price – just 30p a day. That’s up to 3 times cheaper than most other networks. What’s more, it costs the same whether you’re browsing our site or any other site online... with unlimited* web access for just 30p a day – you’ll never need to worry about the cost again.

You'll have noticed the keen use of the asterisk alongside the word unlimited, because despite numerous news reports pointing out that mobile (and broadband) deals rarely mean any such thing, companies continue to advertise them. So let's consider's definition of unlimited:

- not limited; unrestricted; unconfined

- having no restrictions or controls

- without qualification or exception

And then have a peek at Virgin Mobile's definition (it's a little longer than the actual, factual definition):

*Fair Use Policy – Unlimited Mobile Internet: Our daily charge for access to the mobile internet is subject to a fair use allowance of 25MB per day. If your usage exceeds this amount then we reserve the right to charge you for the excessive element of your usage at the per MB data rate for your tariff outlined in our Tariff Table. Unlimited use is within the UK and is for your personal, non-commercial use only. It doesn’t include making internet phone or video calls, peer to peer file sharing, using your phone as a modem, or while you are abroad and any of these uses will be charged at the per MB data rate for your tariff outlined in our Tariff Table.

To summarise, Virgin Mobile's offer is unlimited only if you switch your phone off and don't use it. Otherwise, the small print lists no less than eight limitations that most definitely contradict the meaning of the word as the rest of the world understands it, given that:

- you can't use more than 25MB per day

- you'll be charged per MB if you go over 25MB

- you can't use the data for business use

- you must use your handset in the UK

- you can't make internet phone calls

- you can't make video calls

- you can't share files

- you can't use your phone as a modem

Try a similar tactic the next time Virgin Mobile ask why your mobile bill hasn't been paid; tell them you're following their lead, and when you agreed to pay them, you meant you'd pay them in kind. Then tell them they have pretty eyes, and hang up. Let us know how you get on.

What do you think?

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