Actually, what DO Vodafone’s plans mean?

There was plenty of discussion on Twitter last night about Vodafone’s iPhone plans. Yesterday we thought that data outside the “included” amount was still billed within the cap. But then people started reading Vodafone’s confusing and legalistic Terms & Conditions and got confused. I contend that failing to clearly state the price of your services is in breach of the Trade Practices Act — and if a dozen smart people can’t answer the simple question, “What will I be charged for 5GB of data?” then the T&Cs are misleading, I say. Stay tuned.

12 Replies to “Actually, what DO Vodafone’s plans mean?”

  1. I still don’t know what Optus is charging for excess usage, and even the guy in the store couldn’t tell me when I got the phone.

  2. The simple answer is don’t buy from Vodafone then.

    Then they’ll learn right where it hurts, and without using any force. No need to get the thugs involved with any of that TPA nonsense.

  3. @duncan: it’s right there in the fine-print on — search for “exceed”, it’s the 3rd of the 4 occurrences on the page.

    “If you exceed your plan’s included monthly data allowance, excess usage charges will be charged at $0.35 per MB or part thereof. ”

    Vodafone’s excess is 12c/MB. Telstra’s can be as low as 25c/MB or as high as $2/MB, depending on how much you buy upfront.

  4. @Duncan: I guess you have the excuse that you’re a tech journalist and have to be aware of the latest gadgetry — but I still find it astounding that you’ve signed a contract without actually knowing what the contract contains. Since you’re in such a good mood, maybe you’d like to sign this bit o’paper while you’re at it…? I’ll fill in the rest later.

    @Alex: By “thugs”, I gather you mean “hard-working, dedicated public servants who we, in our democracy, hired to take care of our interests as consumers by ensuring everyone plays by the rules”? 😉

    @zhasper: The big question re the Vodafone plans isn’t so much the excess rate, but whether that excess is charged as funny-money within the cap, or extra real-money outside the cap. On existing business plans such as the ones Mark Pesce and I use, that $1-per-5-minute charge is within the cap. If Vodafone now bill that outside the cap then effectively it’s a massive extra charge for data via iPhone.

  5. You’re not comparing apples and apples.

    $1-per-5-minute charges are still within the cap — if you choose a non-iPhone-specific plan and choose *not* to take the Internet On Your Mobile bundle, which converts you to per-kilobyte billing instead.

    12c/MB billing has always been outside the cap (you have to choose the Internet On Your Mobile bundle, and charges from that bundle are specifically excluded from the cap), and still is.

  6. @zhasper: If that’s the case — and what you say fits with how Vodafone’s data plans previously worked — then Mr Pesce’s in for a nasty shock when his bill arrives.

  7. Just looking at the plans just now though, I notice that the non-iPhone business caps let you “Add a 500MB Mobile Data Bundle for just $29.95 a month and get an additional 500MB of data to use per month” – although the wording in the fine print is hopelessly vague, and leads me to think that the “extra 500mb” on the end of the sentence is the same “500mb for $30” previously mentioned, and not a bonus 500Mb.

    Either way, that’s half-price for at least the first 500Mb and should take some of the sting out…

  8. But. It’s still effing ridiculous that I can get 5Gb for $40 on my laptop, but 500Mb for $30 is the best deal I’ve seen on my mobile.

  9. @zhasper: Yes, data is data. Why the data pipe should cost 8x as much when connected to an iPhone as to a laptop is, in my non-lawyer opinion, price gouging — and a core theme of Mark Pesce’s original essay iPhail. Vodafone are not alone here, of course.

  10. Price gouging — and it’s hard to call it anything less — for this oh-so-hip unit is one thing, but no one’s going to have time to care unless the little hand-held fucker actually works. And on that front, it would seem today’s story in The Age serves as something of a heads up.

    Ultimately, it just reinforces my long-held belief that where new technology is concerned, it’s almost always best to let the Innovator and Early Adopter consumers fall over all the big, annoying hurdles until the providers get their shit together and iron out all the technical and pricing schedule headfucks (mobile service provider collusion notwithstanding).

    @Stilgherrian: As we both know, broaching the very concept of trading “rules” within earshot of Alex can always be relied upon to whip him up into an indignant lather.

  11. @stilgherrian: I beleive it is called Market Segmentation and it is not illegal, so long as you can demonstrate a clear difference between the two options.

    The airlines have been doing this for a long time: it costs the airline EXACTLY the same for each seat on the plane, so… why does it cost me $300 if I book 15 days in advance, and $1500 if I book 24 hours in advance?

    The rationalle is: General public won’t pay as much, but know thier plans in advance. Business can pay more, and book late. Separate & Segment the two markets, and charge them different values.

    To be legal, you have to offer BOTH prices to BOTH markets, but the markets will segregate themselves by their actions.

    <Sigh> Not that I AGREE, mind.

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