Can you believe T-Mobile’s cheek?

by , Conversation Editor Technology 11 January 2011
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In a bizarre move T-Mobile has hacked the fair usage data allowance on its ‘unlimited’ tariff by over 80%. It’s a cut that even affects customers on an existing contract, and let’s just say, there’s a lot of unhappy bunnies.

Man biting mobile phone angrily

What exactly are you up to T-Mobile? The mobile operator has taken a chainsaw to the data allowance on its ‘unlimited internet’ fair usage policy.

Despite T-Mobile already using a skewed definition of the word ‘unlimited’ (unlimited should do what it says on the tin!) its customers have been hit by a double blow – the operator is giving with one hand and taking away with the other.

Instead of the previous 1 gigabyte (GB) allowance, those of you on its so-called unlimited plan will now only have 500 megabytes (MB). This diminished allowance will also hit Android smartphone customers who were offered a 3GB fair usage limit by T-Mobile.

It keeps on coming

T-Mobile doesn’t think you should be too upset though, since according to its new fair usage policy ‘web-browsing’ won’t be affected. The problem is that the operator is again flirting with dictionary definitions by saying that ‘web browsing’ doesn’t include streaming video or downloading files (like apps or music).

So if you go over your new measly 500MB limit, you’ll be able to tweet and check Which? Convo, but you’ll struggle to visit YouTube or download Lady GaGa’s latest single. If this is what you desire, T-Mobile advises the following:

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

Right, so those of you who bought your spangley new smartphone to watch video and try new apps, you’ll have to do so on your home’s Wi-Fi. Nice.

Strong debate

The debate has been raging over at Which? Tech Daily, with many angered at T-Mobile’s apparent ‘bait-and-switch’. The operator has said that its customers won’t be able to get out of their contracts, since they’ve given reasonable notice.

This raises two questions – do you think a mobile operator should be able to change its terms part-way through a contract? And, perhaps more importantly, were T-Mobile customers actually given 30 days’ notice for a change that will take place on February 1st?

The consensus from commenters on Which? Tech Daily appears to be that customers haven’t had fair notice, whether via a written letter, email or text. This could breach T-Mobile’s terms and conditions.

Of those who’ve expressed anger, Notahappybunny has said that they won’t take this lying down, ‘as I expect T-Mobile wouldn’t if I decided to reduce my monthly payment to them by 83%!’ Commenter Unhappy agrees:

‘All I want is that the allowances within the price plan are honoured for the duration of the contract. Is that really too much to ask?’

As far as what your rights are, Ofcom has told Which? Mobile that if you can make a good case that this change will cause ‘material detriment’ then you should be able to cancel your contract.

We’d advise logging a complaint with Ofcom and if you need legal advice you can get help from our Which? Legal Service. Otherwise, if you’re unhappy with T-Mobile, let it out below.

Update on 12 January 2011 – T-Mobile backs down

Following your comments and complaints, T-Mobile has backtracked on its previous announcement to change its fair usage policy. It’s data allowance reduction to 500MB will now only be made for new and upgrading customers. Here’s T-Mobile’s full statement:

‘On Monday 10 January 2011 we announced that, in line with the rest of the industry, T-Mobile would be reducing its Fair Use Policy for data usage to 500MB a month for all mobile phone customers. Following a further review of our policy, these changes will now be introduced from 1 February, to new and upgrading customers only – not existing customers.

‘There will be no change to the data packages for existing customers for the duration of their contract and we apologise for any confusion caused. The revision to the Fair Use Policy is designed to ensure an improved quality of service for all mobile internet users.’

Hopefully you can now breath a sigh of relief – we did it guys!

28 comments

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Jonathan

I’m extremely disappointed, annoyed and want to punch various people in the face.

I bought the contract so I could use lots of data with the 3gb limit – and I’ve gone well over 500mb. I’m paying to have them cut 83%?

I don’t particularly want to quit – because I went to T-mobile because I did what they wanted, and do a deal for a good price that I couldn’t get elsewhere. I want them to change their policy back – but I think I’m gonna have to go to Three.

The communication has been appalling at best. They’re happy to text me when I hit 80% of my limit, but I have not had communication from them about this – and it’s in 20 days?

I asked their Twitter account if I could check previous usage for each month – to see if it’s an issue to me. Turns out, nope, but I can manually calculate my usage for the current month by adding up each bit of use!

Everything everywhere? Nothing good here.

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Scott A J Reynolds

I Wouldn’t Join 3G,

Join/Consider GiffGaff.Com :)

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Scott A J Reynolds

Got ya, Only members have an hit direct reply button & Not WhichConvo Staff/Voulunteers :/

My cap on every word, Is more an mental block I’ve got Myself in to & Have to manage it that second & can’t really be dealt with by copy & paste in word :/

Me & GiffGaff.Com members are debating about doing the new tiny payments that Everything & Everywhere (Orange Mobile & T-Mobile Merger) have just started & Allowing tops ups from £0.10p :)

The GiffGaff.Com members don’t like that idea or Me :(

What’s Your view on Everything & Everywhere (Orange Mobile & T-Mobile Merger) tiny top ups as little as £0.10p deal?.

No, no. Everyone gets a reply button, only replies to replies don’t show the button. We’re looking into adding this button in the near future. Although top-ups as little as 10p seem a little pointless, anything that helps people budget is a good idea, don’t you think?

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Scott A J Reynolds

Ok, Well hopefully You’ll get an reply, reply, button, for all Which Convo Staf/Team :)

I still thing its an great idea to be able to top up with as little as 10p, As were not all rich & able to pay £5 or more :(

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Scott A J Reynolds

This Is Why OfCom & ASA, Need To Confirm The True Meaning Of The Word Unlimited:

Definition of “Unlimited” in the Oxford English Dictionary: (adjective) Not limited or restricted in terms of number, quantity, or extent:

63336: Unlimited means: not limited or restricted in terms of number, quantity, or extent; eg. the oxygen supply was unlimited. It can also refer to a company.

Definition of “Unlimited” in the Oxford English Dictionary: (adjective) Not limited or restricted in terms of number, quantity, or extent.

From 118 118, 63336, 66000, :) :P

Join GiffGaff.Com Instead, hehe ;) :P

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Scott A J Reynolds

Well Everything & Everywhere Ltd http://everythingeverywhere.com ,Previously Orange & T-Mobile Merger :)

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Gareth

That sounds Terrible, I don’t actually have a smart phone yet but am planning to get one shortly and for allowances to be restricted so seriously I’m rethinking the need too. If i do i expect to be able to use it wherever and if it’s unlimited it should be just that

my current tarriff has “unlimited texts and 600 mins of calls” which i never fully use but as an international customer i get stung on texts and calls back home which is very frustrating. this just seems like another was to redefine common sense.

as an O2 customer i’m going to have to do a bit of research before i continue my contract

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Scott A J Reynolds

You Should Stick With Pay As You Go (PAYG) Sim Cards & Join O2/Telefonica’s Sister Comapny GiffGaff.Com, Were ” UNLIMITED Deals & Packages Really Do Mean UNLIMITED ” :)

All Uk People Should Be Writting To OfCom & The ASA, Regaurding The Correct Meaning Of UNLIMITED & Make Sure Its Removed From All Mobile Phone Adverts, Unless They Offer Tru UNLIMITED Deals & Packages.

Hello Scott, we appreciate your enthusiasm, but please try not to write with every word up-capped. It’s quite difficult to read – I’m actually surprised you manage to do it!

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gac

I still haven’t had any written notification (post, email or SMS) of this change, so “1 month” is impossible. Also, T-Mobile are still advertising a 3Gb FUP on their website as of today (screenshot: http://bit.ly/fnXYHH), which means they’re also mis-selling to new customers, and new customers won’t/can’t get 1 months notice either.

They also still haven’t responded to me on Twitter or their support forums to tell me what the difference is between “browsing” and “downloading”, as in order to browse anything you still have to get the data downloaded to the handset. They’ve clearly invented their own definitions of these two terms, but haven’t publicised these anywhere for their customers to work out if they’ll be affected by the change, and how badly.

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Kenton Price

The material detriment required by a cancellation under Ofcom clause 9.3 is clear: if you had 3GB before, they want £15 a month for you to keep it; if you had 1GB before, they want £5 a month for you to keep it. Just as they could not take away 500 minutes from your contract then charge you £15 a month to get them back again, they cannot take away 2.5GB from your data then charge you £15 a month to get it back again. It is irrelevant whether or not you exceeded 500MB – just as if you had 1000 texts and only used 200, they can’t just cut your texts to 300 because this is a change to the bundle of Price Plan Services that consitute the Price Plan for which there is a Price Plan Charge. This is a poorly-concealed above-inflationary price rise, and under condition 7.2.2.3 of the contract, if the Price Plan Charge increases by more than the Retail Price Index, you can cancel the contract immediately without a termination fee. Remember, don’t ask T-Mobile to terminate – you should just tell them you have terminated it for the reasons above. They are today sending out emails demanding a termination fee – this alleged debt is a civil matter and they can pursue you through the courts if they wish to, but they have no grounds to deny you your PAC code so that you can take your number to another network. The letter we sent them is at http://bit.ly/tm-bye

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jarowdowsky

I still don’t really understand how the law works around contract changes. Surely if I sign a contract I’m bound by the agreement I’ve made. I can’t, as far as I’m aware, suddenly write a letter to virgin telling them I’ll only be paying my bill every six months or tell Barclays I’ll only be paying £3 for returned payments. And I’m pretty certain Virgin would tell me I have to keep my contract, they don’t have to cancel it or accept the new conditions.

So why should it be fair the other way around? Surely, at the very least, we should have the right to end a contract following absolutely any change – no matter what a business would like to protect.

But I think the most unpleasant part of this is how it just reeks of the very worst of business practices. From the apparent disregard for appropriate legal notice mentioned by gac, the outright deception on the part of T-mobile when speaking to new customers, and worst of all the appalling nature of the message about how to access higher end web browsing.

The tone of ‘If you want to download, stream and watch video clips, save that stuff for your home broadband.’ is really appalling. It implies that T-mobile believe they have the right to determine the technical use of devices they sell, that regardless of the inherent technology.

It isn’t some simple and dismissive insult to their customers it’s an outright corporate mission statement. They clearly feel that maximising their own profits will include stopping customers using the device they’ve sold. It’s exactly the same as restricting you to 30 minutes a month of calls and saying
‘if you want to have a chat with your mum or speak to people more than 2 or 3 times a month, save that stuff for your home phone’.

There is clearly something really wrong in the legal relationship between consumers and providers who offer essential services across the UK, and this kind of dictatorial decision about personal use of technology only highlights this imbalance further.

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Matt Jones

I’m extremely disappointed with T-Mobile on this, I’ve been with them for 3 years and had packages to allowance usage of between 3-10Gb per month, with average use coming in at around 2Gb. I’ve contacted OFCOM and T-Mobile’s head office and will be escalating to CISAS if this isn’t resolved.

As for where to move to *when* this agreement is terminated, it looks like 3 for me. Despite historically having poor signal it seems much improved over recent years and their unlimited data is a win for me.

For those suggesting GiffGaff, I’ve got 2 major issues with them. Firstly when GG launched I heard numerous “unlimited data” promises then a few months down the line people were being throttled due to excessive use. I heard something about 100MB a day being an issue. Secondly it’s an O2 based MVNO and O2′s 3G coverage, despite what the map says, is absolutely non-existent in my area.

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R.Haris

It is terribly dissapointing what T-Mobile have done. I will face a >80% reduction in my data allowance. May I pay T-Mobile >80% less? I will be going through the ADR scheme asap when T-Mobile issue a deadlock letter/email. We must all not let them get away with it.

Alternatively, T-mobile could give us 3gb until our contract period is over, not that hard is it?

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D Hart

I am furious at T-Mobile, being only 2 months into a 24 month contract that I only started because of the 3GB data allowance.

They should honor all existing agreements and reduce their “FUP” on new contracts only.

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mark

My experiences posted below. They are now saying they have rolled back changes until March

http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?p=10537670#post10537670

Hello Mark, that’s interesting – did T-Mobile tell you that they were going to roll back changes until 1st March over the phone? Or do you have an email confirming as much?

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Phil

I got hit by Vodafone doing this last year, but it seems that they were a lot tighter on their get-out clause so I couldn’t cancel my contract, plus they charge you if you go over the 500Mb limit. At the time I said that I reckoned the other companies would follow suit, and lo and behold, it’s starting. To be fair they may well need to do this to be able to manage the volume of data, but they shouldn’d be able to just cut existing contracts, maybe just new ones and existing one when they come up for renewal?

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mark

Patrick a manager of the retentions team told me so, i will hapilly send you the details via email if you can give one or dm on twitter ?

It was verbally, but apparently they will be chamging the fup on their web site before the end of this month and sending out sms etc to inform customers with fair notice. Then roll out the the delayed march 1st. As i nearly had my contract cancelled. I got names and team numbers ?

Intriguing. Which? Mobile is in touch with T-Mobile and the operator is currently finalising an official statement, however it would be great if you could forward any information you have to our Get in Touch email: http://www.whichconversation.co.uk/contact-us/ and I’ll forward it on to the relevant folk here at Which? Thanks.

T-Mobile says they’ll be releasing an official statement soon, so hopefully they’ve caved in to the pressure and will let customers cancel their contracts.

And you can see what the Which? Legal team thinks about the issue on Which? Mobile.

We’ll hopefully have some advice on complaining to T-Mobile on the Which? Mobile blog later today.

We’ve had success folks – following your comments and complaints, T-Mobile has backtracked on its previous announcement to change its fair usage policy. It’s data allowance reduction to 500MB will now only be made for new and upgrading customers. You can find T-Mobile’s full statement in the update above. Hurray!

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Frank

Matters very little. I dumped T-mobile immediately.

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pyro

I emailed T-Mobile yesterday telling them I terminated the contract because of the FUP changes. This was before they amended it to only new customers.

I phoned today and argued with the guy in the leavings department that I couldn’t leave because I had to terminate by phone, not email. And since I phoned today, after the changes, I can’t leave.

Can I still leave? I don’t trust him at all. They sent an email back within minutes, so they received my email about the termination.

Hi Pyro, it’s hard to say for sure without knowing the details of your email and T-Mobile’s response. If T-Mobile’s email response clearly confirmed that you would be allowed to end your contract early without penalty, you have a strong argument.

If T-Mobile’s email response was just an automated response though, I’m not sure you’ll be able to leave I’m afraid. From comments other people have made on our blog, almost everyone who did call T-Mobile asking to cancel yesterday was told that they couldn’t do so without penalty.

So unless T-Mobile actually responded yesterday to say you could leave, I suspect that your email notification alone may not be enough to force the issue now that T-Mobile aren’t changing your terms and conditions after all. Sorry I can’t be the bearer of better news – and you can always express your displeasure with T-Mobile by voting with your feet as soon as your contract comes to an end.

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Scott A J Reynolds

Hey Patrcik,

You don’t have an reply button, So hope You know I am replying to Your reply about My in put & Me doing My best to keep every word lower case, its not been easy,

But doing it for Which.Co.Uk & Whcih Convo, As don’t wanna get banned :(

I see Everything & Everywhere Ltd, Did an U-Turne anyway & In less than 24 hours :)

No problem, yes it’s nice to see they changed their mind so quickly. Although there’s no reply button, you can reply to a reply by simply clicking the reply button in the original comment. I hope that makes sense and isn’t just a load of gobbledegook.

As far as finding it difficult not to write in capitals, how about copy and pasting your text into Word, highlight the text, then Click ‘Format’, ‘Change Case’ and then select ‘Title Case’ or even ‘lower case’. That should do the trick :)

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