Vodafone GPRS abroad. Remortgaging the house...

  jimmylove 17:53 10 Aug 2005

I was in Italy recently - was aware of the (frankly obscene) £5+ per MB when using GPRS but figured I was only going to receive a few emails and as I was moving house I needed to have access to my emails in case the solicitor got in touch. When I got my bill I found that every time I checked my email (around 70 times over 5 days) even if there was no email there I got billed £1.15. Apparently they have a minimum charge below 200 bytes. So every time my phone pings the mail server to check if there is mail waiting (less than 0.02 bytes!) I get billed £1.15. I basically received fewwer than 10 emails and my bill was £90!
Is this even legal? Surely it is incredibly remiss to be charged for nothing! Obviously I wasn't made aware of any minimum charges and they are very hard to find out (most CS reps aren't aware of them themselves in my experience). I have complained to Carphone Warehouse Vodafone but I fear this will all on deaf ears.

Any advice for compensation gratefully received.

  Forum Editor 20:02 10 Aug 2005

If you are absolutely sure about that then you may have a legitimate cause to demand a refund. The important thing is to check your contract - and any terms and conditions attached to your price plan - very carefully indeed. It's not uncommon for people to complain about this kind of thing, only to discover that there was a warning about minimum charges somewhere in a forest of text - it need not necessarily specify the actual amount by the way, an oft-used form of words is something like "minimum charges may apply - rates may be varied from time to time at our discretion, and without prior notice".

Let us know if you don't find anything like that.

  jimmylove 20:16 10 Aug 2005

The thing is FE, even if there is wording to that effect (haven't yet checked) it strikes me as still staggeringly unfair and vastly over-priced. How can they get away with this??

  bfoc 22:33 10 Aug 2005

About Vodafone - but O2 had a minimum charge per day not per call - after all GPRS is charged by 'download'. I would check this aspect very carefully indeed - in my experience the 'interface' between different operators systems can cause real problems with billing.

In my case I faced a bill of around £1000 from 02 for a few GPRS connections in Ireland - I paid what I reckoned my bill should have been (£65 incl line rental and normal calls) and took my complaint, eventually, to the compliant resolution service. They worked out that that I was owed £20! The 'records' had me making 7 connections at the same time which would have had to last for 20 hours to download what they claimed. Yet they also had me making and receiving calls from different locations (with the same phone) over that time.

I believe that the billing was registering each GPRS 'channel' separately and then compounding the error by recording bits as Kbytes for each one. Could each channel you used be incurring a daily minimum charge? Just a thought.

  pavvi 23:48 11 Aug 2005

I work for Carphone Warehouse and got caught on that one myself, after trying to send pictures through mms. If you are on voda you are better off going to an internet point in Italy. You also have to be careful to make sure that the network you are roaming with is the prefferred partner as you will always get charged more if using a non preffered network....Spain and Italy are both covered by Vodafone in their respective countries. o2 I found to be far cheaper. You don't say what kind of phone you were using. Were you able to use full html images (ie from a blackberry?). A word to the wise for all of you about voicemail. Turn off your voicemail before you go abroad or else you will get charged for the network finding you and again when you pick it up, so you can get charged twice for the same call, better still if you need your messages, sign up to Spinvox's Talk 2 text service which will convert the message to text and you don't get charged to receive a text when you are abroad. In the future, assuming you have an unlocked handset (most phones sold by Carphone are as they get them directly from manufacturers usually) if you are gonna be away for a while get a sim for the country you are in, it's cheaper by and large.

As far as compensation is concerned, the best way to deal with it is to angle on the fact that you weren't advised when you had the roaming on your account provisioned (voda don't usually allow roaming until you ask them). You won't strictly legally speaking be entitled as by using the service you are accepting the terms and conditions of using the service while abroad. However, remember that with all due respect that the person on the end of the phone won't necessarily know how you will use your phone abroad, tell them!! I always ask customers in the store how they will use the phone and sometimes get a bemused response about why they are being asked questions. These same customers sometimes come in claiming that they weren't told anything. Try and get them to take something of as goodwill.

Overall while abroad roaming with o2 is cheaper take a contract on anytime 200 aqnd above and you'll qualify for International travel service for free....

Hope that helps a bit....Vodafone at the moment aren't the network to go to if you use data, they don't have any bundles for it so you pay £2.35 per mb regardless of whether you use 1 or 1000.....

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