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back to article T-Mobile imposes swingeing cuts on fair use data limits

T-Mobile UK is cutting "fair use" data limits on Feb 1 from up to 3GB to 500MB and has sparked furious complaints from customers, who were told by text today of the move. T-Mobile customers on "unlimited" Android monthly data contracts who contacted The Reg were particularly aggrieved. Most were aware that the fair use policy …

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WTF?

Ye asked for it, ye got it!

Big boys at it again. Will get worse when Orange (part of the same setup) starts mirroring .

Alas, tis all about money, just when mobile data usage is scheduled to explode! Sucker punch, guys.

Time to move to 3 Network.

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Grenade

Unfair contract term ...

be interested to see if a court struck out the clause as unfair ...

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re: unfair contract term

ah, the beauty of the UTCCR!

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rubbish

i have just sent this to t-mobile via a web form on their help and support page.

feel free to copy and paste/change it for your own use.

dear sir/madam, i have just received a text message from yourselves stating that my internet FUP is being reduced from 3gb to 500mb. i am deeply unhappy about this and feel that you are in breach of contract.

i have phoned your customer services and contacted yourselves via twitter and the response has been that the internet is an additional service provided to myself that can be changed by yourselves with 30 days notice.

could you please show me;

1.where in my contract it states that the internet is an additional service?

2. where in my contract it states that my call/sms allowance is not an additional service. 3. could you also tell me, if you need to give 30 days notice of any changes to my additional services, you can send a text on the 10th of jan and change the service on the 2nd of feb?

i would wish that both my contracts with yourselves are cancelled with no further charges to my account and PAC's are supplied to myself.

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Unhappy

No one told me...

As a T-mobile customer, no one has told me of this impending change which would certainly signal the end of my association with them.

Where did this story break from? I'd like to see if I'm affected...

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WTF?

Holy Shit!!

I know that there's a "may vary" clause, but Damn! I'd be demanding a monthly refund or an early end to the contract.

They MAY change the terms and conditions, but surely there's something stopping them from making such crazy cuts. It's rather unfair that the company can change what they offer for the money each month, but the consumer has no such freedom.

And the response about using your home internet if you want to use your smartphone for, y'know the stuff it was advertised as doing!! THe Cheek!

What next? reducing the number of minutes you get to 10 and saying that if you REALLY want to chat for a long time, use your landline?

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Hmmmm

Well I was thinking of switching from vodafone to t-mobile when my contract runs out, but now I think I'll reconsider. Not a nice move there t-mobile.

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WTF?

Erm, hang on...

So as 3 start offering apparently unlimited unlimited access, T-Mobile can't...

And the share the same masts for 3G....

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Alert

perhaps this is the reason?

Maybe because 3 are making their caps unlimited is why T-Mobile are having to cut theirs?

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Massive change in contract

means you can get out of your contract.

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Megaphone

telling your customers how they should live their lives.

"If you want to download, stream and watch video clips, save that stuff for your home broadband."

I love that. telling your customers how they should live their lives.

as far as i can tell a company with good customers service should provide their customers with the product that meets their needs. not tell their customers how to modify their needs around their product.

that having been said the FUP sounds pretty reasonable. But i really don't like it when the operators just change their T&C's in the middle of your contract. why they can't make it for new customers only.

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Unhappy

Unfair Contracts Terms Act (1977)

OK, so I'm in a barrack room here, but for "unlimited" customers, I reckon there's a good chance of being able to void the contract.

The key legal point would be (I think) the definition of "reasonable" - I.E. is 500mb fair use reasonable for an unlimited product.

To my mind, 3gb for a fair use policy is probably ok, given the nature of the device and the normal "reasonable" use, but unlimited in the context of a 500mb cap seems to push things that bit too far. And whichever clause in the small print they're using here might well be seen as an unfair contract term.

Either way round, it's a despicable action to vary contracts one in a one sided way without any other options. Compare with O2 (and I'm no fan of them either!) who offered new contracts with a 500mb cap for smart phones, but stood behind existing unlimited tariffs until expiry. A much more sensible approach that provides a degree of fairness to customers that Everything Everywhere seem to think unnecessary...

If this is to be a pointer to the actions that come from allowing two huge players to merge to claim 40 odd percent of the market it should never have been allowed.

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Anonymous Coward

you are misreading T-mob intentions

The intention is to test the water on per-app segregation and move apps like facebook, google, etc into a different pricing category. Then they will charge per app. Just as they originally intended to when the financial models and revenue projections from VAS in 3G and LTE were drawn.

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Boffin

Changes

Surely the consumer can also play the terms of the contract, if its written right.

Such a change would be a disadvantage to the user and as it is a substatial change to the original contract, the user should have the option to either accept it or withdraw from it.

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WTF?

Its worse than that...

... my T-Mobile branded Desire comes with a specific app for viewing YouTube. So T-Mobile gave me the tools to watch YouTube on my phone and now want to spank me if I actually use the app they provided....

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FAIL

IANAL but..

A cut from 3gb to 500mb is a large drop and has to be a significant enough change to make the contract unenforceable.

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Stop

Irrespective of the contract weasel words

Surely this is a change to the agreed contract which is detrimental to the customer and therefore affected customers should be entitled to simply terminate their service without any exit fee?

Clearly Twee don't actually have the network capacity they sold (or indeed any useful coverage) and therefore will be glad to see the back of customers who actually use what they purchased...

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I blame the French

Although the T-Mobile/Orange merger was supposedly "a merger of equals", like virtually all mergers it was really about one partner taking over the other, ie Orange taking over T-Mobile, ie the French buying out the Germans.

Now we are seeing Orange/France Telecom's legendary customer service coming through.

Yes, I have a T-Mobile contract. Yes, I chose them because of the generous data allowance. Yes, I am pissed off by this.

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MrT
Bronze badge

What text...?

Are they just texting people who go over that limit? Or everyone who signed up for a 3GB/month limit? Either way, I haven't had mine yet...

This will be to bring them down to be in line with Orange - so there's the answer to all those who wondered what 'benefits' the creation of Everything Everywhere** would bring... firstly this claw-back to the lowest common denominator, next will no doubt be stupid animal plan names and then T-Mobile's customer service will suddenly turn into a steaming heap. But hey, the future's bright...

** just not the big things. And not in all physical locations.

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Silver badge
FAIL

Negotiation time...

My contract comes up for renewal soon. Guess what I'll be using as a bargaining chip to either seriously reduce my monthly bill, or get a much better voice/text package or handset 'in exchange' for this cut to 1/6th of my previous data allowance.

Cheeky sods.

Steven R

NB: Cell coverage and quality in North Yorks seems to be much of a muchness - so changing network probably isn't worth the bother.

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Unhappy

That's all folks!

Now the Mobilcos have got us hooked on data, prepare for tiered pricing.

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Anonymous Coward

In the parlance of the American youth, bump 'em - bump 'em right in the ear!

As a current T-mobile customer I'm kind of glad that I was already planning on leaving their network in the next few weeks; why is it that UK telcos are so daft in their approach to dataplans for smartphones?

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Unhappy

Are you kidding me?!!!

Is it April fools day already?

I'm 2 months into a 2 year contract taken mainly for the 3GB data cap. Angry doesn't even begin to describe how I'm feeling at the moment. I feel like I've been ripped off.

I was planning on moving my girlfriend over to T-Mobile, they can kiss that one goodbye.

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FAIL

So am I

I recently told T-Mobile that I wanted to move to Vodafone. They proceeded to throw every deal and the kitchen sink to get me to stay. It's a bit annoying to see them 2 months later decide to reduce their cap drastically. :(

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Flame

How not to build trust

I looked carefully at the T-Mobile and 3 data contracts a few weeks ago when I needed a 3G data service for my new Droid. T-Mobile appeared to be offering more data but I'm glad I went for 3, reason being that 3 are not so stupid and arrogant as to tell you what you can't do with it (i.e. you are not allowed to tether).

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Megaphone

Tethering

Does anyone actually take any notice of that clause? My mobile data allowance pretty much goes 100% on a tethered connection to my laptop. Can the network operator even tell the difference between using a laptop to browse and the phone's own browser?

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Linux

take notice of tethering ?

"Does anyone actually take any notice ..." Yes I did, and never with any intention of following it. But the anti-tethering clause did cause the loss of trust, now clearly justified by the data cap reduction, which had already resulted in my going elsewhere.

"Can the network operator even tell the difference between using a laptop to browse and the phone's own browser?"

In most cases yes, if they are willing to inspect and pattern match the HTTP (and other protocol) packet request headers sent by the client software, where laptop network client programs will identify themselves differently from mobile phone clients which do the same kind of job. Smart and knowledgeable users will be able to disguise this evidence of course e.g. by configuring browser options and using VPNs, but most users won't be bothered to do this.

What seems likely to have happened is this: The marketing guys asked the technical guys, "can we tell the difference if we have to" and the technical guys said "yes". But push would have came to shove due to more rapid growth than predicted in oversold data use and evidence of this being down to widespread tethering. So it's likely the technical guys were then asked to quantify the costs of filtering and active traffic management, and the extent to which customers would be pissed off if tethered traffic were to be limited. The marketing guys would have then chickened out and decided (possibly wrongly) that reducing caps would be less painful than using technical measures against (most) tethering. The technical guys would probably have advised the marketing guys that if technical measures were to be implemented against tethering that these would be bypassed in relatively short order by users learning how to disguise and conceal tethered traffic.

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@TOK-0

Your first post is very revealing, Shill much?

I wish the paid PR shills would fuck right off.

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Fuckin' Shills

I'm a long term T-Mobile user, and I'll be leaving them the second my contract expires.

The network merger with Orange has been an abortion.

Service and coverage is crap and not a patch on what it used to be.

TBH I'd be staggered if anyone could even manage to get 3GB of download in a month from the constantly dropping and slow 3G service offered by t-mobile.

"Why should I have to wait for my email because everyone else around me is streaming video from the 'net?" - when I've paid a premium for my data usage, why should I have to wait cause this service has been over subscribed?

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No astroturf please

Possibly as T mobile has been happily flogging phones with stuff like apps for you tube etc. You cant seriously sell handsets with apps installed and then castigate your user base for actually using them! I'm not a customer of this network, and never will be if this is a sample of the way this stupidly named shower is going to be run - My options for the future just reduced by one - well 2 if you look at the merger.

I would also be looking to exit without penalty given that smart phones are sold as web enabled units which require a data bundle for part of the basic operation as much of the reason for ownership (over a "dumb phone) and as such this will be a significant disadvantage to the customers affected. I guess they are counting on not many being aware of the ability/cant be bothered to challenge the contract in relation to this significant disadvantage. I dont think the "web is an added bonus" B/S will fly for a contract sold on a smart phone. Its part and parcel of what it does.

Personally I hope shed loads of customers walk. In terms of allowing a significant market share to fall into the hands of one company via a merger it looks as if Ofcom have again presided over stitch up of the UK consumer and should be disbanded and replaced by a proper regulator rather than a friend of the industry

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Stop

Bait and Switch

You don't have to delve into any small print. This practice is illegal in the UK, it's called "Bait and Switch".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bait-and-switch

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You've GOT to save it for home broadband?

.... or you have to pay more to do it? Not clear from the T-Mobile statement after the link..

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FAIL

seriously?

So, this is in response to 3 throwing fair use away? Makes me wonder if they're trying to kill T-mobile and stick only with the Orange brand.

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Silver badge

inevitable

I never trusted this mobile internut idea. They hopelessly over-sold what wap could do, then a few years later tried to cash in on a bit of unused bandwidth. That sold, rather to the telcos surprise, so they exploited it as a new cash bonanza. Did they build a matching infrastructure? did they bollox.

When people tried to achieve what they had been sold, the telcos - who already have the cash, just withdrew the service.

Same sort of scam as adsl, but with even less chance to deliver.

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WTF?

Owch

I took out a 24 month contract 1 month ago because they had a 3GB fair usage policy on Android phones (1GB on other phones)!

That's an 83% reduction!

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Linux

That's why I own my phone

It stops them from selling me something and then changing the terms defining what was sold. Matter of principle. I'm on a rolling one month contract having bought my phone outright as PAYG.

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Evil parent

I see the hand of the evil parent at work.

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FAIL

I was told nothing

My contract has just come to and end and I called them only yesterday morning to move to a cheaper package, because I like to take a couple of months to check out new phones before I go back on contract.

The guy on the phone said that my new plan was 300 mins, 300 texts & 1GB data. No mention at all that the fair use limit would be lowered. I know it's not his personal fault but I feel like they have been dishonest in not telling me. I may have signed up to a new contract yesterday but luckily I didn't.

Luckily, it's the end of my contract and I will probably change to a different provider.

Not a good move TM.

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Phone Support

It appears that T-Mobile are being swamped by people complaining about this change. When you phone 150 to get their customer services you get, the T-Mobile jingle followed by "Sorry, we are unable to transfer your call, sending you back to the main menu" which then just repeats until you hang up as it is transferring to itself over and over.

From the T-Mobile forums

http://support.t-mobile.co.uk/discussions/index?page=forums&topic=8010380bff24f8012d6da8429f007d13

http://support.t-mobile.co.uk/discussions/index?page=forums&topic=8010380bff24f8012d6da8429f007cec

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Doesn't work the other way.....

I'm sure they wouldn't be too impressed if I phoned up and told them from next month I'll only be paying 1/6th of my current monthly charge.

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The real problem of long-term contracts appears

No doubt it is within their T&Cs, but I'd also assume that such a big change is enough to allow cancellation of contract if you so desire - the question then is: who has ownership of the phone? I imagine them if their small-print writers are any good. But would the small print hold up if challenged would be the thing? Is it reasonable is always the thing lawyers love to argue over, at huge cost to everyone else.

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Owner

They broke the contract. You are the owner of the phone. Its how I got to keep my HTC Kaiser. Three changed their T's and C's (again) and this the contract was void.

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RE: who has ownership of the phone?

Simple, if the phone was sold to you, then YOU own it. If they claim part or whole ownership then it becomes a rental or hire purchase agreement - which would have required certain legally specified things to have been done. AFAIK, none of the mobile contracts meet the requirements.

The ONLY thing the company can "have you" for is breaking the contract that says you'll buy their services to 2 years (or whatever). But, as already stated several times, they are making a significant change to the contract which is detrimental to you - and therefore you are legally entitled to pull out of the contract.

All you have to do is tell them that you consider their contract term change to be both "significant" and "detrimental to you", and that you are therefore cancelling the contract. YOU are in the right here, so let them squirm, waste their time trying to 'upgrade' you to stay etc. You are entitled to terminate the contract, and you are entitled to a PAC and take your number to another operator.

They are NOT entitled to any compensation or early termination penalty for this as THEY have changed the terms. Now are they entitled to ask for the phone back.

The "magic words" are the Sale of Goods and Services Act and Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations. Look them up, once they realise you know your rights, they will back down as they know they will lose.

If they are a pain, they are members of CISAS (http://www.cisas.org.uk/) and it's free (to you, it costs the company) to take a complaint there. What's more, unlike when I had a complaint with Orange, the company can no longer block you making a complaint by refusing to issue a deadlock letter.

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Oops, typo !

That should say "Nor are they entitled to ask for the phone back."

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500MB not enough

My home broadband is pants as I live out in the sticks, so I use my phone a lot for streaming / downloading. Unfortuantely I'm tied into another 18mths. Last time I'll do that. Hope lots of customers vote with their feet so t-mobile are forced to change this policy

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FAIL

Change - I did.

'subject to change' in the contact voids the contract.

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FAIL

One-Way contracts.

Clearly T-Mobile are in breach of their contract terms, and anyone can thus use this as a reason for early contract termination.

Someone want to tell them a contract works BOTH ways, as clearly they didn't read MY small print....

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Megaphone

legal

"subject to change" rights, outlined in the contract small-print, to reduce fair usage down to 500MB.

Is that legal?

To change a contract once signed?

Orange did this a while back and customers invoked their right to cancel- does this mean I can cancel the contract for my Desire HD signed last week and keep the phone? hmmmmmmmmm? - probably not.

I just signed a 1GB data contract last week - is this affected? (Web n Walk)

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Fellow Commentards

My Fellow El Reg Commentards,

Unfortunately I have come to the conclusion - by reading these posts and T-Mobile's reactions,

that I will not be eligible to a breach in terms of contract as my Internet Plan IS offered as an additional service through a flexible booster.

I am very angry about the cutdown - especially as I have an Android Phone; 500MB is not enough - in the 1 week I had my Android phone I used over 120MB - very tight.

500MB was OK when I had a Windows Mobile phone on Orange (used about 60MB per month).

Unfortunately I am stuck in this contract for 23 more months without the right to cancel- please tell me I'm wrong.

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