Is Vodafone’s new Eurotariff just charging people more through the backdoor?
We all love Vodafone. And they are saving so much money in not paying UK tax that they are bound to be “giving something back” and making life for their UK customers a little bit easier. We’re all in this together remember.
Anyway, last month, Vodafone announced a shiny new Eurotraveller tariff for UK users, which would allow customers to “enjoy more value for money when using their voice, text and mobile internet whilst travelling in Europe.” The basic premise is that for £3 a day you can use your UK calls, text and data allowances, rather than paying shockingly expensive roaming rates. Sounds like a bargain huh? Sounds too good to be true? Sounds like some people are going to get shafted.
Avid Bitterwallet reader Matt contacted us (via our facebook page if you are that way inclined) to explain that, far from saving him money, Vodafone was proposing to increase his monthly charges many times over.
You see, what Vodafone failed to mention is that this shiny new Eurotraveller replaces the Passport scheme for calls and the DataTraveller scheme for data in Europe. The passport scheme offered access to free calls within your UK limits for a one-off call connection fee of 75p and DataTraveller gave 25mb of data a day for just £10 a month. You can still get some of these services on pay as you go.
Admittedly, if Matt was a chatty sort, then he may be better off paying £3 a day instead of multiple 75p connection charges, but Matt is actually very grumpy and hates talking to people (when abroad) unless absolutely necessary. What he does like, however, is emailing his many friends, using data of less than 25mb a day.
So Vodafone’s shiny new scheme will now cost Matt £90 a month (£3 a day for 30 days) instead of £10. Which is quite a difference. If Matt was going to Majorca for a week, perhaps he would just shake his head at the barely concealed sneaky price increase. However, as Matt is about to spend a European year abroad, this is somewhat a more painful issue.
So Matt tried to cancel his contract. After all, mobile phone companies can’t just go changing prices on you without giving you the option to cancel can they? Um.
The relevant section of Vodafone’s terms are as follows:
11b You may end this agreement by writing to us if:
• we don’t do something fundamental that we should have done under this agreement (for example, if there is a complete failure of the network for seven days in a row due to something we have done), within seven days of you asking us in writing;
• we tell you that there will be an increase in the line-rental charge (unless we increase line rental because of a rise in VAT) by more than the increase in the retail price index (worked out as a percentage) since the last line-rental increase and you write to us before the increase applies;
• we increase your charges in the UK which has the effect of increasing your total charges (based on your usage in any of the previous three months) by more than 10% and you write to us before the increase applies; or
• we change this agreement to your significant disadvantage including changing or withdrawing services (we will tell you if this is the case) and you write to us within one month of us telling you about the change. This does not apply if the change or withdrawal relates to services which you can cancel without us ending this agreement.
Vodafone have informed Matt that he cannot cancel under the 10% increase rule as that only applies to UK services. While Matt has a pretty hefty case that he has been put at a “significant disadvantage” by the changes, the clause specifically doesn't apply to cancellable services. Like Euro/DataTraveller.
So it looks like Vodafone have stitched him, and others like him, up like a kipper, but did we expect anything less? Vodafone have claimed that they were obliged to revisit their Euro offering following the EU ruling on price caps for roaming charges. This is a lie- the EU themselves say “These price caps are the maximum permissible prices. Operators are free to offer cheaper rates: be on the lookout for better deals!”
We contacted Vodafone to ask for their comment. They didn’t have one.