back to article Man uses mobe as modem, rings up £27k phone bill

We are indebted to The Mirror for the latest example of mobile data charging madness, this time in England. Ian Simpson, a factory worker from Darlington, downloaded TV programmes onto his laptop using his mobile phone as a modem - and racked up charges of £27,322 in just one month. He says he may go bankrupt unless Vodafone " …

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Get a grip

So why are they STILL allowed to use the word unlimited when it is not. Get a grip Ofcom.

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Coat

I would suggest he doublechecks his bill

It took Vodafone 3 months to stop charging me for every 1KB on the supposedly unlimited 3G broadband (I had to formally contest every bill). Based on my own experience I would not be surprised if he was charged from the first MB onwards.

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Rob
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Bunch of burglars!

OK, I might well be a little bit confused here, it being the festive season and all, but we've got a mobile network saying "never use a mobile as a modem".

So how does that tie in with all the "use your mobile as a modem" marketing coming from the.... mobile networks? Would I be way off base if I suggested that the marketing bastards designed the billing scheme so that people would go over and get punitive charges, but didn't expect (on account of being marketing fucktards) it to get this extreme?

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So if I do want a mobile modem...

> [Vodaphone] advises its customers to "never use a mobile as a modem".

Have they really said that? It's a bit Luddite, isn't it? I mean, if you have a phone and a laptop that can talk to each other, then why on earth shouldn't you use them in that way?

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data charges

Vodafone actually have something in their small print which states that your transfer is only 'free' up to a certain amount if and only if it is HTTP traffic on port 80. Anything else they bill you at full whack for. They are very quiet about this. I often use my phone for mobile IRC and got bitten by this a few times, luckily IRC is very low bandwidth and the bill was not expensive. Still, beware when you see 'unlimited'.

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Just as well he was using it in the UK

All mobile phone companies are complete thieves when it comes to using data abroad.

Take the "unlimited" data package of the iPhone from O2: £7.50 PER MEGABYTE when roaming 25 miles away in France. Goodness knows how much this guy would have been charged, probably close to the GDP of a small nation.

Of course the phone companies have to charge that much to support their glitzy high-street stores and sports stadiums.

Thankfully we have the EU to do the job of that toothless pile of OffCom. They've forced the price of phone calls down to a third of what they used to be when roaming in Europe. Time for them to jump on the data packages.

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never use a phone as a modem?

how can voda recommend that you never use a phone as a modem, when they sell a USB modem, which is a cellphone less keypad/screen/speaker/etc and other that SMS on your pc, has no other practical purpose?

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eek

I went into t-mobile to buy a data modem and came out with an N95 plus matching contract, the deal is 3 Gig per month fair usage, slap on the wrist if you go over 3 Gig but they don't hit you for it - I hope that's right, I haven't gone over 3 gig yet I don't think.

I think if the guy thought he was on all you can eat he should be ok, but a nasty situation.

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Holy #&$@*&!!!

Granted, he should have read all the small print, but it's simply ridiculous they can get away with implying such a contract is 'unlimited' based upon what they expect the average user to use. That is splitting infinitives on a gargantuan scale and any high school English teacher would do as an expert witness for his case.

I could understand throttling transfer rates beyond a certain quota, though I would still be hard pressed to believe this is actually unlimited. Of course, that bit of information is sort of missing from this article- did he simply believe it was unlimited or was it advertised as such? If the brochure uses the word unlimited to describe the contract, I would hardly consider him stupid for believing it actually was. Naive perhaps, but not stupid. Also, how do you get away with charging per-minute for data-transfer? I imagine there are a lot of 'convenient' (to the telco) 'network problems' limiting transfer rates.

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well, it was a little better for me

i once got a bill for 1500$.... and i was on dial up!!!!

a normal bloody 56k modem on my pc....

i got the news while i was on holiday....it buggered up my vacation big time....had to pay the bloody thing in installments....that's what you get for using the internet in 3rd world countries.

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The future's bright....

In a moment of madness, I enlisted to the orange tv contract. With a fair-use of 1gb per month for a £10.00 fee, per month. The first month was £256.00. I vigorously contested this, and the next month was over £500.00 (first month + second month). It took them over two months to find out that they were charging me for data use and not for orange tv. I cancelled the tv contract. Their data fees are outrageous.

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Pirate

should have checked first

No, its true.

For God's sake don't use your mobe as a modem.

I recently spent a week in Ireland.

I had the foresight to call vodafone ie and uk. Vodafone uk said that I could use my phone for the internets at something like 2 pounds per megabyte. When I clarified that I wanted to (gasp) use my mobile as a modem for my laptop, that went up to 10 pounds per megabyte (plus 'service charges'), i.e. 12.50 pounds per megabyte.

Crimony!

Thankfully I found a helpful relative with a 3g card and a sensible plan. I managed about 40 meg that week.

If I hadn't checked that could have cost me around 500 pounds.

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Flame

Irresponsible

Forgetting the rip off rates sometimes applying to mobile data, IMO the network were irresponsible in not detecting this as an abnormal pattern and suspending/investigating earlier. That should happen at speeds comnesurate with the rate of charging ... and the owner should be warned by text etc.

very irresponsible vodafone = you need to build controls/detection in. Also allow setting of credit limits and user controled caps on data.

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Unhappy

T-Mobile

As mentioned above, T-Mobile seem to be the best guys here:

£7.50/month 1GB Fair Use - three slaps on the wrist effectively, then they ask you to upgrade or restrict your service. Then £12.50 or so for 3GB, then £22 for 10GB.

They don't seem to restrict usage particularly, but 1GB is no use as modem or VoIP (modem use is hard for them to pin down really), 3GB is no VoIP, and 10GB even allows VoIP.

O2 are the total bastards, with their "Unlimited" package being 200MB (now, after much yelling by customers), but exceed that and it's £1.80 per MB, no warning, and all apart from web traffic is disallowed. I cancelled my O2 contract purely because of their awful data rates and service, turning down a free E90 and cashback in the process.

The ASA should be preventing the marketing of capped (i.e. no warnings, but instant charging) services as "Unlimited".

Points re: modem use - covered. Christ, what the hell IS mobile data for if not for modem use? If we just wanted mobile web pages and WAP, we'd still be on GPRS.

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Rats!

I guess I won't be using this new phone for a modem then only reason I bought it but I can't afford this kind of bill.

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Boffin

What's the real problem here?

I find myself not having a lot of sympathy for the guy who run up the bill. Who in their right mind would download the Internet thinking that it covered by a low cost monthly tariff? I sure as heck wouldn't!

However I am hostile towards the mobile phone company in this case because I feel they should apply reasonable logic. Their computer systems could easily block the signal once a preset limit is reached. Let's say £500 to begin with. So if matey got to £500 worth of calls then the system would cut him off from making further calls. If it turned out that his need was greater than that limit then a quick phone call to the mobile company could clear that obstacle. Leaving it to the consumer to find out that he's in serious debt possibly weeks after the problem occurred is just plain wrong IMHO.

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I'm up to 19GB in five weeks via a mobe...

Geesh, I pay about Cdn$94 per month (all taxes in) for a certain Telus 'Unlimited' Connect 75 (sic) data plan.

No one can blame me for using the mobe device as a modem, BECAUSE THAT'S ALL IT IS. No mic, no speaker, no keyboard, no display, just a little mobe gadget with a USB plug. It is a Sierra Wireless 595U in case you want to Google the image. It is plugged into a very cool CTR-350 WiFi router to make a hotspot in the forest. Ah, life is good.

Here is a cut-and-paste from my on-line bill with only some punctuation added for clarity:

"Data Usage (1x/EvDO): 19,055,937 Kilobytes = $0.00"

So, 19GB in about five weeks. No extra charge. Nada.

So our $85k man in Calgary should accept Bell's offer of the 'lowest equivalent plan', and then he should write them a cheque for $94.

Same thing for anyone else. Here's your 50 quid, now get stuffed. I don't think that the bandits, I mean Telcos, would want to stand in front of the wigged beak and try to explain the math and the technical details. THEY WOULD NOT WANT TO TAKE THAT CHANCE !!!! If they lose, they lose big time.

I just started another blog tonight (somewhat related):

http://the-wifi-limo.blogspot.com/

Happy New Year!

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Future is getting brighter

Hopefully Google, with its open phone platform and its intention of creating a 700mhz network, will solve this problem in the US.

The cell phone ecosystem is currently in a proprietary, pre-IBM PC state and the network system is in a pre-Internet state akin to Compuserve/AOL/Prodigy/etc.

And the reason we're all in this primitive state is because T-Mobile/Verizon/AT&T/etc. have the resources to lock us in. It will take a company like Google, with billions to bid on spectrum, to break this stranglehold and allow us to progress beyond this kind of nonsense.

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Unhappy

That's the problem...

...with a saturated market. And it's only going to get worse!

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My 1st couple of months

using 3's x-series, with 1gig for a fiver, was a bit of a mess because when you first sign up with it as an add on the 1gig is supposed to last you 2 months and so a week into my 2nd month I got a text saying I was nearing my limit. I phoned them up to ask what limit they were referring to and was told that i'd used well over a gig and was now at £250 at £2 per extra Mb. I asked how this could be as in my first month I'd not used anywhere near 1gig and now only one week into my 2nd month I'd used well over 1gig? So after a few calls back and forth as they guy on the phone couldn't see how it was possible either I found out that when you 1st sign up the 1gig has to last you 2 billing cycles. I checked everywhere and could not find this referred to anywhere on their t&c's and after 3 weeks of me calling and getting the names of people to write to and threatening to call watchdog and Superman and Doctor Who they did waive it (by then it was close to £500 as I was still using it knowing I'd not used 1gig that month yet). They also made it clearer on their terms and conditions. To be fair though they did text me when it got to £250. Also if you get one of their new plug in modems at £10 per month for 3gigs and go over the 3gigs they only charge you 10 pence per Mb and you get a text for every £1 it costs you. Fair enough I reckon. People slag off 3 but every time I've had a problem they've sorted it out straight away.

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Stop

Little sympathy for either party.

I find it hard to be sympathetic for Mr Simpson. To quote the article, "Simpson *thought* he had an all-you can eat deal for unlimited web use". He didn't. That's his fault (assuming he's not been lied to when signing his contract). A quick look at the Vodafone web site shows they don't offer an unlimited plan - the max is... you guessed it, 120MB.

That said, I do agree that Vodafone should have caught this sooner, though I'm not suprised they haven't. As has been commented on several times in these pages, Vodafone's billing system isn't perfect and their customer services are known to be patchy. Now we just need to find a way that they can *both* lose their money in this deal...

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Alert

dial up via mobile vs using mobile data...

After reading both of these articles it's still not clear to me whether the poor sods in each case used Dial up access or simply jacked into their phone's existing data connection.

"Using a phone as a modem" suggests the former, and does indeed carry with it absolutely obscene pricing. This is where you would plug in your phone or connect via Bluetooth, install modem drivers, and create a connection with a number and everything! Just like the good old days of using dial up on a PC.

"Using your phone's GPRS/EDGE/3G/HSDPA connection via USB or Bluetooth" is transparent to the network AFAIK. This is basically the same as above but instead of dialling a UK Dial up service provider's number, you pass a string to the modem (dependant on the connection) and dial #99# I think(?).

I have used my Windows Mobile smartphones of many generations for many years now to allow me to access the web on my laptop, and never gone over my Orange World access allowance. Granted, I haven't been downloading TV programmes or music. I think I tried to get some porn once when I was drunk and the hotel pay per view was broken but I digress.

The networks need to clarify this and as responsible operators need to provide information to customers on how best to use their mobiles for data, if they intend to do so.

If, as usual, I am wrong. And these people have been using the latter method of web access, then OFCOM really do need to grow a spine and get on the case. As the word "Unlimited" is thrown around far too carelessly in the world of Telecomms when the reality is that it's far from unlimited.

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Stop

Never use a phone as a modem?

That's not what Vodafone Mobile Connect, the Voda branded software that lets me... USE MY PHONE AS A MODEM... says.

Left hand, meet right hand.

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Boffin

Hats off to DiGi

Gotta love DiGi. I used my TyTN to download a few Youtube videos (courtesy of the youtube downloader that came with the TCPMP FLV plugins), chat on MSN, Yahoo and AOL like a teenage schoolgirl does SMS, fooled around with google maps, bid on a few auctions and paid off a few that I've won, and lots of el-reg, wikipedia access and tv.com moderation, and in the end I get a bill for RM66 (roughly 10 quid/US$20) because I'm on their all-you-can-eat package. Fair use? What fair use?

http://www.digi.com.my/data_services/gprs/datagprs_mb_dataplans.do

Sure, it aint 3G, but when you're stuck in a long train or car trip, you don't really have anything else better to do, and EDGE surfs up most stuff at decent speed.

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Stop

typical

no wonder so many manufacturers were giving away free pcmcia cards coloured in bright red, bearing the vodafone logo awaiting your mobile phone sim card.

time to get those phone companies regulated properly

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T-Mobile!!!

Was offered "Unlimited" internet access for an extra £7/month (or, aparently all users are capped at £1 a day charge, no use limit... again this is complete bullcr*p) via 3G.

I was not informed of the fair usage policy which i later found out was...

and i take this with a pinch of salt as most phone monkeys know sweet fa about their job, "3GB" (thats gigabytes, i asked them to repeat, not gigabit) a month, i had to ask them this after they tried charging me an extra £30 for using 200MB after double, f*ck no, triple checking i wouldnt be overcharged by calling them several times to speak to more monkeys.

in the end, im just carefull how i use it, i dont dare attempt to remove the offer, however after this first hurdle i have yet to be overcharged, but using it how i would LIKE to use mobile internet is too much of a risk (putty, gmail, downloading music off my webserver at random locations in the UK, the amazing new google maps mobile edition, etc)

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Anonymous Coward

OFCOM / ASA

This is one person who should probably do what we all want to do and report Voda to OFCOM and the ASA for incorrect us of the word "unlimited".

Last time I had a look unlimited meant that there were no limits or limitations (otherwise it would be "limited").

I imagine Voda would write off his bill in an instant rather than have to stand up in court and try to argue that unlimited means limited.

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One Day...

Roaming and data will be at normal rates allowing us to use mobile systems, as intended, and we will look back at this (overly long) period of telco criminality with almost an air of nostalgia. Comedy sketches will be written about it, bills will be featured in museums and even phrases about it will make it into general use - "about as generous as a telco", "they've done a Vodafone on me", etc.

One day...

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IT Angle

Daft if you don't read the small print with a magnifying glass

Although you could probably be forgiven for not understanding UK mobile contracts, as they're all pretty confusing and ISP mobile providers are all a bunch of cowboys.

I agree with the people who say that Ofcom ought to step in and slap companies who label things "unlimited" when in fact they /are/ limited.

However, you also need to examine the T&Cs of your tariff closely. I'm with T-Mobile and on my tariff their GPRS charges are extortionate - about £7.50 per meg. However, I get (relatively) cheap data calls so if I know I'm going to be downloading a fair bit of data, it actually works out cheaper to use the phone as a modem but not on GPRS, but by dialling into my normal ISP on their 0845 number. Although it's slower, it's charged per minute and still works out a lot cheaper than GPRS with T-mobile.

I don't really use mobile internet enough to pay the (regular) additional subsription for 'unlimited' data calls. However, for the average 'high street customer' I'd say the whole subject is rather confusing for non-techies.

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Vodafone suck!!!

Hi,

I had a similar experience with Vodafone last month. Not quite as bad as what this gentleman did, but a £346.40 private bill really hurts! Especially just before Christmas!

They (Vodafone) claim I used 108mb in the space of 30 minutes downloading mail from my mail server! I've produced logs proving I did not use that amount of data yet they are not prepared to do anything about it. At the time my phone only had 64mb worth of storage so downloading 108mb is physically impossible! Currently i've got no clue what more I can do! I've cancelled my direct debit, written letters, etc but still sit £280 out of hand because of this.

Any advice?

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Stop

To summarise...

Guy takes out contract without reading it and then runs up bill. Is too stupid to understand what he has done wrong and tries to make out he is the victim.

A few years ago I had the free Orange email alert service where they send you a free text message with the headers and subject of every email you get so you can go check your email when the important stuff arrives. At the time there was no push email and data services on the mob were a lot more pricey.

I went to stay with my father in Holland for a couple of weeks and during that time was charged 20p per text for every single email I received... that ended up being around £250 which was a real pain in the ass. I checked the smallprint and had a think about it and really any d!ck with half a brain should have realised that the alerts were not going to be free abroad so I paid up and took the hit. I find it hard to believe that anyone is dumb enough to think that there is going to be a mobile solution out there that is economical for downloading TV shows as even the DSL packages are trying to discourage you from doing it now.

I say make this guy pay up as a lesson to stop other people thinking they can use things without reading the smallprint, it worked for me.

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never use a phone as a modem

Chad H said: how can voda recommend that you never use a phone as a modem, when they sell a USB modem, which is a cellphone less keypad/screen/speaker/etc and other that SMS on your pc, has no other practical purpose?

Exactly, I've got one! - haven't been able to get it to work when I'm in India tho' so I use my Nokia as a modem - costs me Rs 14.95 a day (about 20p) - cheaper than dial-up. It's slow and seems there's some throttling after you download about 500Mb but usable.

AndyD 8-)#

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Re: What's the real problem here?

"I find myself not having a lot of sympathy for the guy who run up the bill. Who in their right mind would download the Internet thinking that it covered by a low cost monthly tariff? I sure as heck wouldn't!"

This is what happens when advertising decides to reinterpret words that the public understands such as "unlimited". Lets look at it from the side of someone with little technical no how, and certainly no awareness that the ISP's and mobile operators speak a different English to the rest of us. Punters are used to seeing broadband connections from what £10 or £15, aren't there even one or two lower ones, like £7.50 for a *massive* 1GB FUP. Suddenly if your that Punter the £41+ mobile data connection seems expensive, and could very easily look "unlimited"

Advertising should very simply be forced to use dictionary definitions in its product descriptions, no more, no less. Not invent a new meaning for words in the small print.

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Anonymous Coward

Fancy that!

Using a mobe as a mode, what a noob.

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Jobs Horns

Vodafone are a complete Rip-Off - T-Mobile - very hard to beat

I ditched Vodafone last year, as they cannot offer any kind of competitive deal against T-Mobile. I regularly use my phone as a modem - and most often at speeds of 1- 1.8 Mbit (on HSDPA). An absolutely fab service from T-Mobile. With calls and texts - my bill is almost never over £50 per month......

Unlimited should mean unlimited - I'm shocked that operators can use that terminology and as one commenter mentions - restrict that to 200Mb ???

Q.

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O2 and Google maps for mobile

I managed to run up a £200 phone bill with O2 UK about a year ago just after I found Google Maps. I was showing everyone what it was like! I cancelled my contract paid them off and vowed never to go back to O2 ever again. I now use T-Mobile as my personal and Voda for work and havent had such a bad bill since, even after I used my Voda as a modem while I was moving house.

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Anonymous Coward

take em to the small claims court

what gets me is why all you guys getting ripped off by these data plans that charge for free web site data,havent taken them to the courts with a simple county court small claim like the masses of the UK users took the banks to court?.

surely its time this ripoff were they are charging for free data is stopped,put a simple legal notice on all the web pages that deny the charging of any data to these companys and see were that leads.

makeing a fair profit on supplying the pipe to the data is one thing, makeing a charge and not paying the website its going rate (90% of any charge is fair) for supplying that data the end users wants is just wrong.

make the mobile/ISP data plan profiteers pay the websites and watch them sqirm for once.

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Why are they kidding?

I really don't see where these people get off writing "Unlimited" on the packages and then putting a "fair usage policy" in the fine-print. It's ridiculous, honestly. I'd say that they'd have "issues" if I put a "Fair Charge" policy on my bill and refused to pay more then £30 a month, just in order to be "fair" to my other creditors. If there IS a limit of 1Gb or so, then it simply isn't "unlimited" - and their use of the word is indefensible.

I don't use mobile data for precisely these reasons. But then I work in IT, and I'm exposed to things (like The Register) that make me aware of these problems. But if I worked in another industry (or the problem existed in another industry) i'd be unaware and could easilly get caught.

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AB
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@Simon Painter

> Guy takes out contract without reading it and then runs up bill. Is too stupid to understand what he has done wrong and tries to make out he is the victim.

Your sweeping statement only applies if the contract is fair (and therefore reasonably enforceable).

From the DTI website:

"The requirement of good faith embodies a general ‘principle of fair and open dealing’. It does not simply mean that a term should not be used in a deceitful way. Suppliers are expected to respect consumers’ legitimate interests in drafting contracts, as well as negotiating and carrying them out."

This bill is presumably around 1000 times the size of a normal consumer bill. Is it not reasonable to expect Vodafone to be fair and open enough to check with the consumer before allowing him to use almost £30,000 worth of services ON CREDIT?! I use the word 'worth' advisedly, of course, as any fule no that the cost to Voda of providing this service (at least before this thing hits court) can't be more than a few rounds at their local in Newbury...

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dealer want to be heard, what about the users...

of course theres also this related story today, as usual nothing for the end users though other than paying through the nose.

http://www.mobilenewscwp.co.uk/News/7708/dealers_pack_out_ofcom_meeting.html

"...

“It’s the first time dealers have had the opportunity to talk directly to Ofcom and everyone has jumped at it.”

Caudle added that he would develop an agenda for dealers’ input to the meeting via the IMPDA and Phone Dealer Forums. Along with cashback and misselling, dealers would focus on network relationships and the future of the mobile industry in general.

“We want to get more give from the networks,” he said. “For example, O2 won’t let authorised O2 dealers have the iPhone until January. It’s crazy. We’re hoping Ofcom’s influence on the networks will help us.”

...

"

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Alert

What do you expect?

I must admit to sympathy for the users in these cases, although they were indeed negligent for not reading the terms and conditions fully. I also agree that both these cases should have been picked up by the networks earlier as they DO have software that runs daily / hourly reports on high usage. However, you and I and everyone else expects the networks to provide a service which, 9 times out of 10, is far superior to that of the Fixed Networks, you expect to be able to move around, country to country, send text messages, send and receive videos etc etc etc. Who do you think pays for all this? All the technology employed by the networks costs hundreds of millions to install and run - just so you can make a call. They are a business, as a business, their ethos is to make money. In real terms over the last 22 years of mobile networks in the UK, mobile calls have decreased by over 90% taking inflation into account whilst coverage, quality and services have increased exponentially. If you over-regulate, you will get an inferior service, regulation is not the answer, consumer awareness is, vote with your feet - check the contracts, all is never what it seems!

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Boffin

OFCOM / ASA

Re: OFCOM / ASA

I tried that. Did not work. ASA cannot do shit, because the advertisements do not say "unlimited". Only the commercial materials and leaflets do. So you actually have to drive this through OFT and trading standards, not ASA.

Re: Little sympathy for either party.

I went and bought Vodafone 3G broadband a few months ago. The sales agent went to circle the terms on the printed material to show me what I am buying - 3Gb, 25 quid a month, 8 quid per day roaming. After that she turned around and typed into the terminal 250MB a month, 12.50 MB per MB roaming. Classic fraud slam at its best. So you may check as you wish, until your first bill has arrived you do not realistically know what are you on. Further to this, Voda wonderful billing system does not reflect any recalculations and changes until next month so you cannot even know if you have managed to contest the charges. And on top of that it tries to bill you for usage which should have been free to see if you do not bother (another classic slam). So, the explanation by the original victim may have indeed been correct. I would not be surprised if he was sold an unlimited deal and put on 120 without him noticing.

Re: Richard Thompson

I suggest your first phrase when speaking to their "advisors" is to say "I intend to record this conversation for trading standards purposes. Do you allow the recording?". If they say no - ask to speak to a manager until you get a yes. By that time you get to a point where you have someone who understands that you cannot fit 108MB into 64.

Re: data charges

They have a trigger most likely based on Deep Packet Inspection to detect VOIP and Skype which are prohibited by their AUP. Unfortunately detecting Skype via DPI is a messy business. The only constant is 0x02 at specific offset and that it is UDP. As a result the DPI misfires massively on any UDP traffic like VPNs. If you shout at them for a couple of months in a row they end up shrugging it off and turning it off on your account. It took me 3 months to get there.

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Boffin

@Andrew et al. and STANDARDISED PRICE COMPARISON

For all those who say they have no sympathy for the punter, just consider exactly how many times nowadays you have to sign up to wordy terms just e.g. to open an email account etc.

Consider how many average guys on the street know the difference between HTTP traffic and TCP/IP Port 80?

Key terms need to be clear and unambiguous - you can't say unlimited then introduce any kind of limit, and I would love to see someone fight this fully in court.

It's a total minefield and I agree with those who have pointed out that the regulator is taking a back seat when he needs to be driving this through.

Nearly all the rip-off issues with the operators could be fixed with legislation on advertising and forcing all operators provide a clear and common STANDARD price comparison table.

This STANDARD comparison table should also include average cost of calling from worldwide zones, e.g. Europe and Rest of World. If the regulator was savvy enough they would mandate the average is an average of the cost in each country and not weighted by volume of calls.

A standard price comparison table would introduce just a bit of competition back into a market.

What is also urgently needed is a limit to the liability that can be incurred when being asked to sign "terms". Also bear in mind that, according to law, there is already some limitation on liability that can be incurred through contracts. Hopefully the punter has a decent deal with the newspaper and is getting some legal assistance.

Finally, points come to mind on subject of neutral internet. Most mobile providers put some limit on the type of traffic that is bundled, but many allow VPN access as they make a lot of money from businesses like mine who provide a card per employee. It is then impossible to limit access to e.g. VoIP, even though some businesses have signed contracts saying they won't use it for VoIP.

Please don't say he deserved it when so many of these gotchas (maybe not this one, who knows) are in fact well laid traps.

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Who sold him the contract - I have a hunch...

When I was looking at alternatives to my T-Mobile Web'n'walk I asked in a UK High Street phone shop (the national chain advertised with a smug American and who get all L337-speak with a number in their name). Said shop was very very slick with me being passed by name and formal introduction to the manager when I questioned the package, and then told in plain English with no qualifiers, that the Vodafone package was UNLIMITED data, and in that sense 'identical' to my WnW. The Vodafone shop denied strenuously the existence of any kind of 'unlimited' data package - theirs was capped at 120Megs, that's all that was on offer, there was no such thing, in short, as the LIES AND DELIBERATE DECEPTION from the slick shop who almost bullied me into signing on the spot...

Perhaps this poor soul was slightly less cynical about the phone pushers in that shop, and was just plain outright lied to, perhaps he was unable to read all the small print and did ask?

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Stop

Unlimited

Can all the people posting comments slagging off Vodafone's use of "unlimited" do some research first. Vodafone does not call this plan unlimited anywhere. It clearly states in numerous places that you get 120Mb for his £7.50 extra. It does also say that if you go over this then it costs you £1 a day for a further 15Mb then £2 per Mb above that. It really is quite clear.

Yes, Vodafone's systems could have flagged it sooner but if he downloaded a high number of Gb quickly then it could have acrued before it got to billing. It is only 15Gb

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Anonymous Coward

Go Bankrupt

The bloke should just go bankrupt. Assuming he aint got a house then will be debt free and discharged in about eight months. Drink up!

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Anonymous Coward

voda 120MB

I use Vodafone and I have the 120MB data package.

NOTE - I say I have the 120MB package. At no point was it sold to me as 'unlimited' - and I bought directly from vodafone. They also make no differentiation between http traffic and any other - nor can I find anything in my t&c's about that. Data traffic is data traffic end of f'in story. I don't have a http traffic bundle - I have a data traffic bundle. Mostly I use it for ssh and as of yet I've not come anywhere near 120MB in a month.

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Anonymous Coward

Laziness

I have little sympathy for this guy. I have the 7.50 add on from T-Mobile for "unlimited" browsing. It's made clear that it's for the phone, not as a modem. The shop had the modems clearly shown with information stating that that was the way to browse on a PC, not a phone.

I have however discovered that the phone can still be used with a PC. I MADE THE EFFORT to call T-Mobile and find out what this was going to cost me.

I have no sympathy for people who think they should be OK. If you do not know for sure then find out. It's not hard.

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Coat

Still don't understand...

...why anyone in their right mind would want any kind of data package on their phones in the first place? It's a phone. It's got a crappy little screen, crap data rates and a crap keyboard (even if it is a Jesus phone or similar). Use it for making phone calls. If you can't then live without your precious Internet for more than a couple of hours, just stay in front of your computer and don't leave the house/office for God' sake!

And that's coming from someone who worked in the IT game for 15 years or more and who has managed to run development teams, support outfits and even a couple of small companies without ever actually _needing_ to access the Internet/web/email/whatever on a mobile. Even when on holiday, abroad or travelling on business for any length of time.

Mind you, O2 did once try to charge me a couple of hundred quid for GSM data calls (that I had never made) on one of my phones. It took a fair bit of shouting at them and a lengthy explanation that I did have some idea of how network management and billing systems could go wrong, before they finally admitted that they had, in fact, cocked up and that I could have a refund and a couple of months free line rental and a grovelling apology and could I please stop hitting them now 'cos it was making them feel very bad and even more sorry? So I do agree that most mobile operators are a bunch of thieving, incompetent bar-stewards. More reason not to pay them extra money for a "service" that, at the end of the day, will be crap and you almost certainly do not really need.

Er...and with a rant like that I suspect a "Bah Humbug!" is probably in order isn't it? I think I've got some in me coat pocket...

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Anonymous Coward

Another Point of Sale problem

Having spent a few moments in CPW this week I was shocked at the poor point of sale information provided by the shop assistants. I am not saying over the phone direct sales is any better. With complex products and services I am not surprised that punters don't really know what they are buying and the retailers don't really care. Seems like basic ethics are taking a back seat more and more. If people keep being shafted by technology and service companies hopefully people will stop buying and keep their money in the bank!

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