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Lawyer spunks 5k on Vodafone data watching BBC’s iPlayer

Another month, another story about a normob (“normal mobile user”) going abroad with their data card and running up a massive bill. Just like I did a few years ago.

Telegraph has the details:

The 46-year-old, who would only be named as Janet, is refusing to pay the bill after insisting she was never told that her £25 monthly tariff for “unlimited downloads” did not apply abroad.

During a long weekend in Villefranche on the French Riviera, Janet decided to catch up on the latest episode of The Apprentice using the BBC’s iPlayer service.

She downloaded the programme, together with politics shows This Week and The Andrew Marr Show, to her laptop computer using a Vodafone 3G card, which enables fast internet access.

It is, I think, reasonable for a normob to think that ‘unlimited’ means just that. Ah well.

I’m sure Vodafone will work something out with her…

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

11 replies on “Lawyer spunks 5k on Vodafone data watching BBC’s iPlayer”

This industry is its own worst enemy. We all deserve to be shot.

I'm off to raise organic potatoes in Dorset.

<sing along> Now oy got a brand new combine 'arvester 'an oyl give yew the key <fade to squelching>

I agree with Mike but then I don't work in the industry! ;o)

How on earth does Vodafone's system allow a customer to run up such a bill without informing them? Something should definitely warn a user after, I dunno, half a grand!

If the 2nd/3rd tier MNO doesn't have real-time billing record exchange in place with VFUK, then no-one knows about the usage until the billing records are exchanged. This can be days or weeks later.

The foreign MNO wants the roaming revenue (normally at wildly inflated prices relevant to local rates), so it's in their interest NOT to immediately flag a large amount of usage. If they did, then the VF system would immediately flag back not to continue.

But the alternative is to disable customer data roaming. Hear those business travelers squeal!

This is a global issue, and less-than-legitimate MNO's (particularly in Africa) make a ton of cash from purchasing contract UK/European handsets, flying them to Africa and making looooooong calls to premium numbers. The GSMA NRTDE (Near-Real Time Data Exchange) program will go a long way to addressing this, and has a deadline of 1 Oct 08 for implementation by GSMA members. Not having NRTDE will seriously affect an MNO's ability to form/sustain roaming agreements, as it will basically signify an intent to defraud, or at the least to do nothing about it.

Problem is, the NRTDE standard calls for a 4hr event reporting time. With per-MB roaming data rates still astronomical and HSPA giving the ability to use MB per second, even with NRTDE in place that lawyer in France would still have clocked up a massive bill.

At

I think she should offer to pay the bill with “unlimited* pounds sterling”!!

*subject to fair payment policy (subject to change without notice) to ensure all creditors enjoy a good and fair payment.

Mike, That's really interesting stuff. Wow…

I wonder how MacRoam and Sim4Travel-type services (i.e. the prepay) manage this type of stuff from a calls perspective.

Might be an article in it…?

Mike, That's really interesting stuff. Wow…

I wonder how MacRoam and Sim4Travel-type services (i.e. the prepay) manage this type of stuff from a calls perspective.

Might be an article in it…?

I think she should offer to pay the bill with “unlimited* pounds sterling”!!

*subject to fair payment policy (subject to change without notice) to ensure all creditors enjoy a good and fair payment.

Mike, That's really interesting stuff. Wow…

I wonder how MacRoam and Sim4Travel-type services (i.e. the prepay) manage this type of stuff from a calls perspective.

Might be an article in it…?

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