Don’t be fooled by claims of unlimited mobile phone internet or unlimited texts by many mobile operators. You could actually be left paying a fortune for exceeding your ‘unlimits’.
I’ve just received a text from my current mobile provider, reminding me that my unlimited mobile internet use has come to an end. From now on, my data allowance will be capped at 500MB.
You might think I’d be a tad peeved at this news – but far from it. Instead, I’m pleased that my provider is being honest about the limits it’s imposing, rather than continuing to offer a so-called ‘unlimited’ deal with a host of small-print strings attached.
Know your unlimited limits
Several mobile operators – including 3, O2 and Vodafone – have done away with false claims of unlimited mobile internet in favour of realistic usage caps. But others, I’m sad to say, have yet to see the light.
- Orange’s ‘Panther’ tariffs offer unlimited texts and internet, but texts are restricted to 3,000 per month and mobile data to 1GB per month. Exceeding your fair usage could mean restricted use or the benefit being withdrawn from your account.
- T-Mobile promises unlimited data on a number of its mobile deals, but has a ‘fair usage’ limit of 1GB a month. It says it won’t charge you for exceeding it, but may restrict your use ‘depending on how often you go over your amount and by how much.’
- Tesco’s ‘unlimited’ mobile internet contracts restrict users to 500MB per month (iPhone users get 1GB). If you exceed this Tesco could impose further charges or move you to another tariff.
- Virgin – which is otherwise highly regarded by its customers according to Which? surveys – also sets a mobile internet ‘fair usage’ limit of 1GB a month on its unlimited packages. It reserves the right to charge for exceeding this at their standard rate. The same rule applies to ‘unlimited’ calls and texts, which are restricted to 3,000 apiece per month.
Tesco, O2 and Vodafone all offer unlimited call and/or text deals to which they apply fair usage policies – but each say these will only apply if your use is ‘excessive’ or adversely affects other users. It’s not quite clear what would be deemed ‘excessive’.
Generous allowances don’t need dressing up
Why on earth do operators bother with this level of jiggery pokery? In mobile internet terms, 1GB is a hefty chunk of data and unlikely to put most prospective customers off. So why not just advertise that limit, rather than hiding it in small print.
Likewise, I can’t imagine even prolific texters being put off by an overt texting cap of 3,000 texts per month – I’d risk repetitive strain injury if I tried to send 100 texts a day.
On the other hand, even if ‘fair usage’ limits will never affect you, I think you’d have a right to be upset on principle to discover your provider engaging in false advertising.
So, mobile providers, try a little honesty and make sure your customers know their limits.