Vodafone denies iPhone cap plan confusion

iPhone3G.jpgVodafone has denied that any customers have been sold an iPhone and told they can use general cap credits for data — a stance which contradicts comments heard from many iPhone buyers and Lifehacker readers. Why won't Vodafone acknowledge the confusion over its plans, and what will it do for customers who have signed up on the basis of a contract which it seems Vodafone doesn't want to honour? See after the jump for the full story.

As we've noted in earlier posts, Vodafone's terms and conditions appear to allow the possibility of using the monthly iPhone call cap fee to pay for data as well as voice and SMS, thereby making it possible to browse more freely without incurring excess data charges. Several people have signed up for such plans after being told by Vodafone store staff that this was possible. Lifehacker reader Michael reported a typical experience in this regard:

I was pleasantly surprised to be told that it was 12 cents per MB AND that any excess data charge is offset as part of the monthly Cap credit. I was initially sceptical, and asked the sales person why this vital piece of information hadn't been communicated more clearly by the Vodafone Marketing team and was told that it was probably because everything had been so rushed and that everything was in a shambles. On the basis of what was communicated to me about the excess data pricing, I signed-up to the $69 iPhone plan on the spot. I'm certainly not going to be happy if this isn't the case...

Vodafone's official stance is that this approach isn't possible, and that any data used outside of the stated allowance for each plan will be charged at excess rates of 12 cents per megabyte. Following Vodafone's statement to this effect, we asked Vodafone head of corporate communications Greg Spears what it would do for customers who had been sold the service in this way, and received a rather starling reply:

I'm not aware of any customers that have 'been told by sales associates that they can charge data against their cap dollars'. As I've pointed out previously, this is simply not the case - but if you'd like to provide more exact details of where this information came from - i.e which stores, we would be happy to follow up to ensure that the correct information is being communicated to customers.

Spears also flatly denied that any element of the company's terms and conditions suggested such a deal was possible. We've sent him the relevant paragraphs and links to jog his memory; we'll let you know when and if he responds. In the meantime, we'll note that anyone who did sign up for a plan like this and wants to pull out would probably be entitled to pull out  under contract cooling off legislation,  though details vary from state to state. If you try this, share your experiences in the comments.


Comments

    I went into a Vodafone store on the Central Coast of NSW, and specifically asked before purchasing whether excess data could be paid out of the general cap (having already noted these items in the terms and conditions). I was told at the time that yes, it was most definitely possible, by one of the more experienced staff in the store.

    There was no "I'm not sure", "let me check", "I'll have to get back to you".. It was a very clear, "yes, that is how it works".

    We will get a co-op alternative to the Australian telephone companies up and running if 10,000 people join: https://www.thepoint.com/campaigns/fauc

    Please let everyone know! Hopefully an alternative will be more receptive to new technology and won’t charge as much as it does for the iPhone’s basic functions.

    At the very least, it’ll send pressure to Telstra, Vodafone, etc. to lower their prices.

    The page on Vodafone's web site that leads customers astray is:

    http://store.vodafone.com.au/mobile-phones-apple-iphone-3g-8gb-iphone-plans-69-vodafone-cap-contract-for-apple-iphone-3g.aspx

    .. and click on 'Full Details'.

    The section is headed:

    Great services included in $69 Vodafone Cap for Apple® iPhone™ 3G 24 month Contract

    ... which leads you to believe that the following item is included in the cap:

    Excess Data Charges - 12c per MB, billed per KB with minimum session of 50kb

    I received agreement to this both in-store (Canberra Centre) and from call centre (Vodafone's 1555 number).

    Well, as the (presumed) initiator of all this craziness, let me see if I can explain what happened.

    Walked into the "main" Voda store in Sydney (333 George), and wa seen immediately. Did most of the contract stuff, then asked about the data charges. There was some back-and-forth - no one seemed to know. Then I was presented with a _printed_ sheet of paper. Under the "Covered under the cap" section of the plans costs, was the very clear figure "12c per MB". I asked, the salesperson pointed - and "Yes, that's under cap." So I happily signed.

    Now, my mistake here is that I didn't ask for a printed copy of that document. I don't have it, and Voda's website says differently.

    Do I have a case? I have no idea. But I do know what contract I signed. Be a pity of Voda didn't honor it.

    as a user of a first gen iPhone on a Vodafone cap since I got it last November, I've had 'almost' all of my data included in my cap. When first enquiring the customer service staff had no idea how or how much I would be charged for GPRS data. Turned out to be 91c per 5min, but I found out I was also being charged GPRS data when using my own wifi at home!
    Sounds like they still don't have a clue.

    Adding fuel to the fire, I was told unequivocally by both Vodafone and Crazy John's sales staff that excess data was definitely taken out of the cap, and I have a printed page clearly stating the same. I've been a VF customer for 11 years, so I'll be making plenty of noise if they back out on what I've agreed to pay for.

    yes yes bad vodafone

    just got off the phone from vodafone and they have confirmed that the data IS INCLUDED IN THE CAP. the guy in the call centre (Walid), first said no it isn't included in the cap, i told him to look at the website, he then checked with his supervisor. He rang me back 10 mins later and said the they are included in the cap. i then told him about this site and how the CEO of vodafone is saying something else. he said he didn't know what to say. so there you are Mr Spears, an employee has told a customer this. Your challenge has been accepted.

    I just got an email from Vodafone (Direct Deals, VF-AU) confirming that excess data comes out of the cap credit.
    "As you've noted on our store website, the excess data charges will come out of the cap credit if you have any remaining.
    A good way to track how your usage is going throughout the month so you can avoid the excess data charges is by dialing 1512 from the Vodafone handset or sending a blank text message to 1512 or 1555."

    So no I have it in writing (kinda)

    After dealing directly with Vodafone's Customer Resolution Team I was told *absolutely* *categorically* that the Excess Data Charge CANNOT be deducted from the $310 Cap Credit on the $69 plan.

    The reason given to me which sounds plausible, is that internally in VF's billing system the $69 iPhone plan is nothing more than a $49 Jumbo Cap (which has the $310 credit) + a $20 Data Bundle of 250Mb (which has the 12 cents/Mb rate and is not available separately with any other plan).

    Fortunately, Vodafone conceded that I *was* misled at the point of sale (yes, that's right Mr. Spears, it DID happen), VF has agreed to release me from the $69 contract and switch me to the $29 Jumbo Cap (which is no longer available because people did the math and were paying out early) - and guess what my next move will be ;-)

    I sent this email to Voda's help desk:

    Looking at an iPhone on either a $69 or $49 business or personal plan (have ABN)
    Could you pls clarify or confirm that with the $310 credit per month I can use it for data as well as phone calls - so that once I use up my plan 250MB of data I can then use up any remaining of the $310 of credit with data at 12c/MB?

    and the reply:

    Thank you for your email.

    If you join Vodafone on an iPhone contract as a personal customer, the $310 credit can be used for calls, TXT and data.

    If you join as a Business Customer a limited amount of the $310 credit can be used for data.

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