In April, I used 275mb of my 120mb Vodafone allowance = 220 quid

So, there you have it. I talked to a very helpful Jackie in Vodafone who tells me that in April, I used 275mb of data.

In April, of course, I was on the ‘unlimited’ 120mb data plan. So I was whacked for the cost of 155mb of data at ridiculous rates (totaling an extra 220 pounds).

As of the 1st of May, this inclusive data bundle headed north to 500mb. So, theoretically, provided I keep my data usage highly restricted, I will be fine. I won’t be billed extra.

I’m not sure how to view this.

Yesterday I took four photos on my Vodafone E90 and used ShoZu to upload them to Flickr. That took about 3.5mb of my data allowance. Just sending four photos. Now if I do that daily, that’s 105mb per month. That’s hardly a lot of photos, either.

I’m massively restricting myself when I’m out, you see. I don’t take any photos unless they’re for ‘business purposes’ and even then, I severely restrict what I upload, because of this inhibiting 500mb limit.

I also panic like no tomorrow when I’m using services like QIK. You’ll note that I rarely do more than 2-3 minute videos because of the stupid limitations on Vodafone. The 10 minute interview I did with Adam from Esendex (coming soon) took 32mb. THIRTY TWO MEG. Nothing if you’re on 3 or T-Mobile’s data plans.

Ah. Hold on.

I’ve just realised what I did. Idiot. At the very end of April, I went to Internet World and produced a series of QIK videos from the show. I interviewed a lot of people and must have done, what, 50-60 minutes worth of streaming video (so much so that my battery went flat in that period). A rough fag-packet calculation of 3.2 meg per minute x 60 minutes = 192 meg. There’s your problem.

Or, more specifically, there’s my problem.

How do I respond to this then?

Well, I didn’t go nuts at the kind and efficient Jackie. I could just hear her waiting for me to demand a refund. I could sense she wasn’t looking forward to telling me there was nothing she could do. There isn’t. I signed the contract, I knew the limitations. I’m the idiot who’s using Vodafone for data. I’m responsible for the costs.

I think that’ll do it though.

220 pounds? Ridiculous. Absolutely 100% ridiculous. My fault, obviously. But it’s ridiculous that I was exposed to that. It’s ridiculous that Vodafone can look me in the eye and take that money from me.

I knew this though. I knew it when I signed up.

I can’t simply rely on them not to screw me again. I *need* to use data on my handset (NOT just my USB modem) as it’s part of a requirement for my business. I understand — as Jackie from Customer Services explains — that the 500mb is fine for most people. I am not ‘most people’ though. And Vodafone’s utter, utter, UTTER failure to recognise the subset of their subscriber base who NEED these kinds of services, shouldn’t be rewarded.

I feel a fool — a total fool — for rewarding it and trying to go-with-the-flow. I was doing the worst possible thing you can do in business: Hope. I was living in the hope economy, hoping that if I did use more than my allowance, it’d be gently shrugged off. I was hoping I wouldn’t be billed for every extra byte. I was hoping that Vodafone’s price plan setting chaps recognised that 120mb (and 500mb) are brilliant for normobs but an utter joke for people like me. I was hoping that the Vodafone response would be better than ‘Well, if you use more than 120 or 500mb a month, then you’re clearly a power user and what’s more, you can probably afford it, right?’

Well I can’t afford to take the risk that if I interview someone on QIK or take a few too many photos or use Nimbuzz or Palringo a little too often, I’ll be spunking TWO POUNDS and THIRTY FIVE PENCE (PLUS VAT) per meg over my bundle.

No, it’s absolutely ridiculous.

I am enjoying the audio quality on Vodafone. That’s it though. The data, particularly from my E90 has been abysmal. This is in part because the E90 won’t do 3.5G. But more often than not, when I’m out and about in London, I continually get 2G coverage. Great for audio but piss-poor for data. Now and again the 3G icon will pop up … only to swap back to 2G. Usable for Google, for contact and calendar syncing, or for IM. But shit for QIKing and uploading anything fast. Shit compared to 3 and T-Mobile. Unlike most, I’ve got direct, real time experience of the other networks, every day. I’ve accounts on every network except Orange. I’m not comparing an idealistic grass-is-greener experience. I’m comparing reality. I’ve been putting up with it up until now, but it’s really quite annoying. And now I have to massively limit my usage to avoid being screwed every single month.

What next, then?

Do I dump Vodafone? Jackie from Customer Services has got someone there working on a price-plan review.

“You are on one of our biggest tariffs,” she says.

“Jackie, that’s so I don’t get surprises. 3,000 minutes, unlimited landline calls, that’s so I don’t ever go over it.”

“Ah,” she says. I reckon she was hoping the price-plan analysis person would suggest I drop to a lower voice call tariff. Not if I’m anywhere near in danger of being billed 35p a minute for calling my friends on different networks. No sir-eeee.

“Do you do custom data plans?” I asked. I’m a business customer with Vodafone, so I thought perhaps, there is something they might be able to do.

“How much,” I said, “Would you charge me for a gig of data per month? Or can’t you do that?”

“We can give you 6GB on a USB modem,” she replied.

Yeah. But they can’t or won’t give me anything better than 500mb on a handset. WHO is it that sets this limit? They need their head examined. They really do. I’d pay more. Like 3’s X-Series (1GB) or T-Mobile Web’N’Walk Max (10GB).

Half of me reckons stay with Vodafone and get a Nokia 6500 to make voice calls and get an N95 8GB/N82 on 3UK and use that as my workhorse.

The other half of me says don’t bother rewarding this 500mb limitation and pull my business entirely from Vodafone. And put up a prominent advertisement on SMS Text News telling everyone and anyone not to use Vodafone for data.


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