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Vodafone backflips on data changes

Date

Ben Grubb

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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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43 comments

  • AMAYSIM has been doing this 1 mb per session for ages....such a rip off. This quickly prevented my from switching to their service.

    Sadly all phone companies are trimming what you get for your 'cap'. I am staying on an old Telstra plan because it gives much better that the 'cheaper' new on.

    Commenter
    Matte
    Date and time
    January 20, 2013, 6:26PM
    • I've been with Amaysim for six months. Heavy mobile data user. Never gone over.

      Commenter
      ym
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      January 21, 2013, 8:13AM
  • "We are committed to listening" .... what a load of nonsense from an out of touch exec. Clearly the backlash for trying to rip customers off has been overwhelming and probably was causing this Voda group concerns about losing more customers. When will they learn!

    Commenter
    Brad
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    January 20, 2013, 6:36PM
    • when they will no longer be trading in Aust when the fool customers wake and realize they're the worst telco company in the world and change to a proper provider.

      Commenter
      Anne
      Date and time
      January 20, 2013, 11:34PM
  • Great decision by Vodafone. I will now not be switching to TPG for my mobile plan.

    Commenter
    SF
    Location
    Vodafone
    Date and time
    January 20, 2013, 6:49PM
    • Who is running this shambles, first massive network failures, ripped off customers, now these stupid decisions around sucking more money from their last loyal customers. Really Voda,really!

      Commenter
      BJ
      Location
      melbourne
      Date and time
      January 20, 2013, 7:08PM
      • "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.

        This kind of flippancy (arrogance ?) caused Vodafone to lose how many 100's of 1000's of customers over the past few years ?

        That they moved to 1MB charging, and they only reversed this decision after customer outrage proves they still do not get it. They moved to 1MB charging 'because everyone else does it'. I would have thought having a point of difference (1KB charging) would be a good way to win back some of those customers.

        Looks like Voda's management, in their infinite wisdom didn't agree. I know what I'll be doing when my post-paid contract is up later this year.

        Commenter
        Mr Bungle
        Location
        Under My Bridge
        Date and time
        January 20, 2013, 7:39PM
        • Unfortunately on the new Telstra plans I use 1gb quicker than I used 600mb on the old ones. Modern smartphones are constantly pulling data and it disappears pretty quickly with such large minimum billing amounts.

          Commenter
          Daniel
          Date and time
          January 20, 2013, 8:13PM
          • Get Onava Data Count. It analyses which of your apps is a data 'hogger' and gives you options to switch to wifi only etc. I went from burning through 1.5 gb in a couple of weeks to barely using my quota. Happy iinet customer here by the way!

            Commenter
            Coley1970
            Date and time
            January 21, 2013, 8:48AM
        • Someone at Vodafone is to be commended for reversing what could have been a disaster for customer retention. As a Vodafone customer of over 10 years I was preparing to switch because, for me, access to data via an Exchange server is critical. Now I'll stay.

          Commenter
          Software Exec
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          January 20, 2013, 8:19PM

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