Vodafone has backed down on changes that would have made some of its prepaid customers' data quota vanish quicker than usual from February 13 after customers "expressed concern" about them.
In December and January the telco began telling prepaid customers via text message of changes that would affect their plan, which included changing the way data was billed and no longer offering free access to major social networking services like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN and MySpace.
The new way of charging for data would have seen the telco begin billing data usage in 1 megabyte blocks with a minimum data "session" of 1 megabyte on all prepaid plans, meaning that whenever data was used to browse the web it would be charged as at least 1 megabyte, regardless of whether only a few kilobytes of data were used in the session.
But now the telco has backed down from charging for data in 1 megabyte blocks, meaning customers will only be charged for data they actually use. The changes to free social networking, however, will continue to go ahead, meaning that access to such services will be billed from February 13.
In a press release entitled "#Vodafix: Vodafone responds to customers' call and introduces per [kilobyte] data charging", Vodafone said Sunday's revised changes came about after listening to feedback from customers who "expressed concern" about the change.
"We have decided to not only reverse our decision to introduce per [megabyte] charging, we'll also be dropping the existing rate to 1 [kilobyte] for all our prepaid customers," said Cormac Hodgkinson, Vodafone's director of customer care.
"We are committed to listening, being transparent and providing our customers a worry-free experience."
Elise Davidson, a spokeswoman for the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, the peak body that represents consumers on communications issues, said the revised changes were good for Vodafone's prepaid customers and showed that the telco was "listening" to customer feedback.
"I think that Vodafone are moving to a fairer way for charging for all their prepaid customers," Ms Davidson said.
"There was obviously a big backlash when these changes were first announced."
At worse case scenario Ms Davidson said some heavy users of social media on Vodafone's $30 prepaid plan might have to buy a $5 or $8 data pack every month if they continued to stay on that plan. This was because Vodafone had not reversed the change to stop billing for social networking access and some customers could exceed their data allowance quicker now that social networking would be billed.
Vodafone spokeswoman Karina Keisler said 500 megabytes of data was included on the telco's $30 prepaid plan and that customer's could use their $450 "flex" credit to buy a bolt on data pack.
"If you are using so much social media that it is likely to push you out of that [500 megabytes] then you're on the wrong plan," Ms Keisler said.
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