Vodafone iPhone plans: Data not included in caps, but no-one's sure why not

iPhone3G.jpgVodafone has confirmed its official stance that its iPhone plans don't allow data charges to be offset against monthly cap payments, but the carrier is yet to indicate how this policy fits in with its published terms and conditions, or what will happen to customers who signed up for iPhone service after being assured by salespeople that they could include data charges as part of their cap. Click after the jump for Vodafone's statement and what it doesn't yet explain.

Vodafone director of corporate communications Greg Spears sent Lifehacker the following clarifying statement this afternoon:

Vodafone's iPhone 3G Caps include data allowances of 250MB for the $69 Cap and 500MB for the $99 Cap. Excess data is charged at 12 cents per MB and is charged separately. Vodafone's sales brochure for Apple's iPhone 3G is correct as it states that excess data is charged at 12c per MB. Vodafone will be as clear as possible with customers on all data charges and will update its sales collateral to be more explicit. All Vodafone Caps that were already in market prior to the release of the iPhone 3G allow customers to use credit that is provided within the respective caps for data downloads and uploads. The incremental cost of data within these existing caps is 2 cents per kb.

Spears' comments appear to directly contradict Vodafone's terms and conditions, which, as Lifehacker noted in an analysis earlier this week, say that data can be counted as part of the cap plan. Spears did not indicate any specific element of the terms and conditions supporting Vodafone's stance.
Spears also didn't comment on what would happen to the many people, including several Lifehacker readers, who have been told that they can include cap data and who bought an iPhone on that basis. We've sought further clarification from Vodafone on those issues. In the meantime, if you have signed up for a plan from Vodafone assuming you'd be able to include cap charges, now might be a good time to note down all the relevant details (date, time, location, name of salesperson, any supporting documentation). It looks like the arguments have only just begun.


Comments

    Quote - "All Vodafone Caps that were already in market prior to the release of the iPhone 3G allow customers to use credit that is provided within the respective caps for data downloads and uploads"

    so... if I have an existing (pre iPhone) $49 cap in place, I am entitled to offset data against the cap allowance. Could I not just buy a new iPhone outright, keep my existing $49 cap and put my sim card into the iPhone, thus enabling the pre-release data offset?

    I dont think Vodafone have thought this entire iPhone thing through. Chumps - cant see the woods for the trees. With the right data plans in place, Vodafone could make a killing here.

    Vodafone have the right corporate colours. All they need are white stripes over the red and they can show everyone they really are a circus. I hope Greg Spears is due for a performance review soon as his statement in the original post doesn't even make sense.

    "Excess data is charged at 12 cents per MB and is charged separately." doesn't agree with "All Vodafone Caps that were already in market prior to the release of the iPhone 3G allow customers to use credit that is provided within the respective caps for data downloads and uploads." This guy is the director of corporate communications? He can't write a paragraph that makes sense.

    I feel sorry for anyone who's been misled over their resellers ability or inability as the case may be to understand their own terms and conditions and are now stuck on a 2 year contract that doesn't include using the cap for data.

    Hello Optus!!

    If you think this is a muddle, look at the Telstra iphone plans. I think we should import a few thousand Canadians who were outraged at Rogers Iphone plans which were more than generous by our standards, and were able to grind out a $30 plan which includes 6gb of data.One can only guess what they would have done to Sol and his plans.

    In a related but separate issue I upgraded my plan on Friday when I bought the phone and signed the contract, but was not told then that the plan wouldn't kick in until my next billing cycle.

    I was therefore horrified to see on the vodafone online site that my data usage (a mere 8MB) in the last three days amounts to $350 as I am still on my old plan with its $1 for 5 minutes rate until the end of the month. After an hour on hold to their customer service I went back to the shop and have been assured that as I wasn't told this they will pro-rate the plan back to Friday so I think it's all fixed up - I won't know until I get my actual bill though.

    I was given the impression that this was a one-off favour to change my plan mid-billing cycle because I made a fuss that I wasn't told about it. I wonder how many other people will be caught out when they get their first bills.

    In business, opportunity is everything.

    Vodafone had a golden opportunity.

    They knew that the 11th July 2008 would be the biggest day of the year for their market AND they had the pricing of their two rivals (at the very least, Optus' pricing) ahead of time and all they had to do was set prices that would:

    (a) ensure existing customers felt justified to stay; and
    (b) provide enough competitiveness to attract new customers

    I wonder if their negotiations with Apple perhaps weren't as favourable as their competitors, or perhaps there was International pressure from global Vodafone operations...

    Whatever the cause, one thing is clear; they dropped the ball, and now they can't find it.

    I had exactly the same problem. Someone needs to go to the media about this! It's either a major stuff up or a con, both of which would be newsworthy.

    I was on a $79 business cap which I knew had no data allowance and "upgraded" to the $69 cap with 250MB data allowance, and paid $309 up front, (which they double billed my Amex for, but that's another story!)

    When I received the iPhone, there were 2 sim cards in the pack, so I had to ring Vodafone to find out which on to use, (there was nothing in the pack to tell me). The customer "service" person asked me to read each sim card number to her and then told me which one to use. She told me the new sim card would be active in ten minutes, and once it was, I started to experiment with the new data based features that the iPhone provides, thinking the new plan was active with data included and I was only eating my data allowance.

    Unfortunately, I was still no the old plan, and as a result I racked up $230 worth of data in 2 days.

    When I called customer "service", I got told me exactly the same thing about the new plan not kicking in till the new billing cycle. I was told that this was Vodafone’s standard policy with all plan changes, and that the iPhone plans were no different, and I would have to be ‘very careful’ about using iPhone data functions until then.

    Within a few minutes of me carefully complaining that they didn’t seem to have taken into account existing customers changing over to iPhone being caught out in this fashion, they changed their position and switched me to the new plan right away.

    I had to make yet another call to the Billing department and tell my whole story yet again to eventually have them reverse the data charges.

    The real concern is how many poor punters caught by this will just pay up because they don’t know any different, or just accept Vodafone’s line about plan change policy.

    I'm now not sure I'll ever use the iPhone data functions, as I'm really quite happy just to have an iPod and phone in one device.

    Way to go to shoot yourself in the foot Vodafone!

    As an existing Vodafone customer, I had the same problem having "upgraded" to an iPhone plan - walking out of the store with a new iPhone on the OLD plan!

    I recently dealt with VF's Customer Resolution Team and they were happy to credit the charges incurred and mentioned that there have been many people hit with exactly the same problem. Check your bill!

    The VF staffer I spoke with claimed that the plan upgrade (keeping the same billing cycle) was never a problem prior to the iPhone being released... hmmm what about the Blackberry??

    I had the same problem and all i did was spent some time on the phone complaining and they refunded me all my excess data charges and the data charges that incurred in my cap and put all the excess phone calls back into the cap. Its amazing what complaining will get you, but they did say that they will never do that sort of thing again for me, so i guess im very lucky! hope you all have the same sort of good experience. bye

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