Fundamentally depressed: It’s almost 2012 and data roaming costs still suck

Strolling through the streets of New York this evening on the way back to the hotel from a meeting I took a look at my BlackBerry and saw the familiar wind-up text from Vodafone. The message reads:

Just to let you know, you’ve used over 3MB of data which has cost you £3 per MB so far. Once you use more than 5MB in a day, the charge becomes £15 inc VAT for each 5MB.

I’ve written about this before. I don’t know why Vodafone make these messages so cryptic.

Shouldn’t the message read, “You’ve used £9?”

No. Of course not. That’s quite expensive. Much better to ease the customer into a false sense of security — to try and avoid too much bill shock. Indeed, the more confusion and the lower the perception of costs, the better.

It’s ridiculous. It’s not just an issue confined to Vodafone — Three, for example, is a lot more direct about the costs in their text updates. The fundamental issue is that the rates are still far too high — Vodafone’s team are obviously aware of this or they wouldn’t have felt the need to disguise and divert attention from them.

It’s a sad state of affairs, it really is. I decided to record a video — for posterity’s sake — of how I was feeling about it. I’m intending to be able to look back at this in years (5? 10?) to come when this is no longer an issue. I wonder what the marketplace will look like at that point. What will the phrase ‘carrier’ or ‘operator’ or ‘roaming’ mean in 5 years time? Or 10 years? It is realistically going to need a decade before I can stride between geographies without having to care too much about the resulting data costs?

If you’ve got 10 minutes and you’re in the mood for an outpouring of emotional geekish disbelief, click on and tell me what you think.

What’s your view: Will the roaming issues we know today have gone away by 2020?

[Note: Nigel on Google+ points out that Vodafone do offer a ‘rest of the world‘ roaming deal — £5 for 25mb a day and that is valid in the United States. Although this is certainly a lot better than this £3 per megabyte nonsense, my key point is the fact it’s still crazy pricing. For instance £5 per day for my 2-week trip equates to £70.]

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  • Two things chap

    1. You should start a campaign to get Voda to change their messaging. The Mobile Industry Review ‘Clearer Communications’ campaign or something. If they don’t want to change their prices, the least they can do is be more clearer about what they’re actually charging you.

    2. Your iPad theme for MIR is *really* bad. Had to switch it off to both read and (eventually) comment.

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