Vodafone handset 'feature' charges contract customers for SMS

5 August 2010

Bitterwallet - Vodafone charge customers for inclusive textsWhere to start with this one. Well, it's Vodafone, so we didn't bat an eyelid; they really can't help themselves when it comes to helping themselves - to the detriment of their customers. Surely they can't screw up again so soon after the last time?

Yes, yes they can.

What is it now? It appears that Vodafone have found a way to charge customers for sending texts - even if those customers have a contract with inclusive and unlimited texts. How are they getting away with it? In the words of avid Bitterwallet reader Chris:

I took out a new contract with Vodafone (unlimited texts, 300 mins, £25 pm) and noticed that I was being charged for MMS messages that I didn't send - and on the bill they were marked as 'Long text'.

After a bit of digging and querying, I found out that the Nokia N97mini that I had got as part of the contract treated messages over 160 characters as MMS. All my other phones simply took the text message and split it into two or more parts, than stuck them back together at the other end - so counted as a series of SMS messages, which form part of the contract.

The contract does state that long texts will be charged for - but doesn't explain what that means. I get charged 15p (inc VAT) for each one - not a great deal but, if you didn't check, it could mount up if across all of their users.

Chris tackled Vodafone's customer services on Twitter, who told him it was nothing to do with them:

Bitterwallet - Vodafone tell customer SMS charges are a 'feature'

Ah yes, one of those 'features' that can't be turned off and has no discernible benefit to the end user. Regardless, Vodafone's explanation doesn't quite ring true, because it isn't a feature of the handset as far as the manufacturer is concerned; Chris took his complaint to Nokia, who told him the phone has been set by Vodafone to count longer texts as MMS messages.

Somebody appears to be lying to their customer - either the manufacturer or the service provider - while Vodafone are raking in the cash for a service the majorty of users might assume is bundled into their contract. Which, if we're honest about it, it is.

TOPICS:   Mobile

29 comments

  • Daniel Z.
    Them f**king thieving bastards are at it again?!
  • RR
    @Vodafone lying fuckers!!
  • Morocco
    Vodafone? Vodacunt more like.
  • PaulR
    Errr no. This is a handset issue. Typical "large company" bashing again. If it was a Vodafone issue then all of their handsets would do this - they don't.
  • Freddy K.
    "Chris took his complaint to Nokia, who told him the phone has been set by Vodafone to count longer texts as MMS messages."
  • rob
    nokia are bullshitting here i think. i've seen it on loads of mobiles where an SMS turns into an MMS if it is too long. Handset issue for me.
  • CompactDistance
    @PaulR The network have customised the phone's software to do this. This is disgraceful, extended-length messages have been a standard feature on phones for as long as I can remember.
  • BobF
    Its not just the Nokia phone that does it. In the past phones sent SMS messages over 160 chars as multiple messages, then someone added MMS to phones and they were sent as MMS messages instead. SMS are inclusive in the allowance, MMS obviously isnt. Type shorter messages OR turn off MMS and then you cant send "long texts" :P
  • james d.
    dont most phones have an option to send 2 messages or to send as MMS.
  • Amanda H.
    I did the £10 - 24month voda contract with £150 quidco speciale (hopefully will be paid, you listening quidco!?), with free genio touch phone. Anyhoo, if I dare to go on google maps (even if Im home on wifi) it automatically connects to 3g+ and voda charges me 50p for the pleasure, even if I immediately switch it off and jump on the phone to make sure. What's even worse is that I cannot remove the 3g+ connection, Nor Google maps as they are both system files -Hurrah! So far. Whats that phone system file manager I keep hearing FLC is it? Will that exorcise the demons for me?
  • klingelton
    hmm, my friend is on voda and this happens to him. hmmmmmmm. suspect. Can't really hide from the bad press vodafone has been generating for itself recently and it's really snowballing so people expect that vodafone are being cuntish about something when they actually might not be. I'm not defending voda, because i really do believe they have been underhanded meschievous and cuntish about alot of things they've done in the last 6 months. However, each time they refuse to help their customers - the more customers will leave. And they will become the smallest carrier in the UK. I don't understand why they persist in alienating thier customers.
  • The B.
    Amanda, don't hold your breath on that Vodafone cashback through Quidco, I had to wait 3 months (for some reason they won't touch it until 3 months have passed) and now I'm 4 months in and still no confirmation that I have cashback, just a "pending validation" on the offending item.
  • Rab
    Why is this article all aimed at vodafone when there is a chance it is a feature of the handset? easiest way is to test it with an unbranded version.
  • Nobby
    Send shorter texts, not a fucking essay.
  • Andy
    Hi Everyone, This is something that we are looking into at the moment. The reason any phone sends multiple texts as a long MMS is that it saves money for anyone not in a text bundle and provides better value. If anyone is experiencing this or has any questions regarding this , please post on this thread here http://forum.vodafone.co.uk/index.php?showtopic=70389 and we will look into this for you. Many Thanks, Andy Web Relations Team Vodafone UK
  • jonny b.
    t-mobile charges me for texts to zipcar on a uk number 'because they cant determine if the recipient is roaming' lovely
  • chris
    I have the normal version on the n97. My sms will change to mms if Its over 10 pages long. (This is probably the max that sms can take.)My firmware is not customised by any network so I guess its vodafone at their dirty work.
  • ajsjdjd
    Vodafone - what a bunch of fucking cunts.
  • bushbrother
    http://www.itproportal.com/portal/news/article/2010/8/5/vodafone-android-update-one-more-reason-go-unbranded/ They also filled lots of peoples phones with Adult dating bookmarks, nice!
  • simon
    i emailed vodafone about this and they confirmed to me that i would not be charged and any message above 160 characters will be split in terms of billing and therefore not be deemed as long sms (or mms) so you should not get charged
  • Amanda H.
    Hey Andy, Can you let me delete google maps from my contract phone? (the genio touch AND now the same on a Samsung Jet), or the 3g+ connection. I don't really want to pay 50p for something I should be able to get on wifi for free.
  • -]
    You can debrand your phone, but that will involve buying the hardware needed to do it or pay someone to do it. :/ Operator branding is a joke, especially when it slows down the phone.
  • Codify
    @VodafoneAndy - "The reason any phone sends multiple texts as a long MMS is that it saves money for anyone not in a text bundle and provides better value." Who doesn't have a text bundle these days? All contracts include more txts than you could possible wish for. Even on PAYG, MMS costs on average three times as much as an SMS txt, so you still aren't saving any money unless your message is 4 pages long. How about making this "money-saving feature" optional, so we can choose whether we want to tzke you up on it or not? This is yet another reason why I always reflash the firmware on any new phone I get - all the contract phones come with cruddy operator-customized versions that are full of shit.
  • Jim
    How can you tell when Vodafone staff are lying? Their mouths are flapping.
  • Stu
    -] (strange name btw) You might want to go look at hacking your mobile to put unbranded firmware on it. Most phones these days don't need specialist hardware, especially smartphones or anything that runs Android.
  • -]
    Stu, most phones still require hardware to unlock, debrand, repair eep/change imei etc. Smartphones (and the non-smartphones running android) usually don't, but most people don't have smartphones. The Samsung S8000 (JET) still requires hardware to debrand.
  • Neil
    This guy needs to change his Nokia N97's product code to something generic like EURO1; that way he can flash the firmware using Nokia Software Update and resulting in a fresh (untouched by operators) install of S60. I used to do this all the time as 3 are buggers for putting loads of crap on their handsets and for acquiring more language packs, Polish for instance isn't typically available on Nokia devices sold in the UK. Go forth and Google...
  • Kevin
    I complained to Vodafone about this and got this response: "I've gone through your account and see that your price plan includes 500 texts. As you've been charged for an MMC (long text message) which applies when you sent message which is more than 160 characters. However, the long texts do not include in the text bundle due to which you are charged accordingly. I trust this helps." So they seem pretty much happy to continue with this daylight robbery. The handset manual even states explicitly: "If you exceed the limit on the number of characters for a single text message, your text message will be delivered as one but will be billed as more than one message. These are called concatenated messages." Which os obviously completely untrue. I reckon they have updated the software to automatically send MMC and as far as I can see there is no way of turning it off.
  • bowstreet
    Beware ! If you download any software to your mobile - whether it is manufacturer software or not - and your phone fails for a different reason - say a failing in the operating system - vodafone will refuse to repair the phone via their "specialist engineers" and will claim it is because of "illegal software" which according to them may or may not have corrupted the main O/S - what a conniving way of avoiding responsibility

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