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Virgin Mobile: More abuse of the word ‘unlimited’

Virgin Mobile have just announced a fixed-price per day of 30p for pay-as-you-go (albeit post-paid) data and unlimited use.

For fun, let’s remind ourselves of the definition of ‘unlimited’:

un-lim-it-ed [adjective]

1. not limited; unrestricted; unconfined: unlimited trade.
2. boundless; infinite; vast: the unlimited skies.
3. without any qualification or exception; unconditional.

Wow… Infinite, unrestricted data… no conditions?  For 30p a day?  That’s not bad.

But let’s check the small print:

Fair Use Policy: [snip] …subject to a fair use allowance of 25MB per day. If your usage exceeds this amount then we reserve the right to charge you for the excessive element of your usage at the per MB data rate for your tariff outlined in our Tariff Table. Unlimited use is within the UK and is for your personal, non-commercial use only. It doesn’t include making internet phone or video calls, peer to peer file sharing, using your phone as a modem… [snip]

So let’s recap:

  1. It’s 25MB per day.
  2. You won’t be warned if you exceed ‘fair use’ and may be charged immediately at full price (about £2 per MB).
  3. You can’t use it for any commercial use – so no work-related e-mail.

That feels pretty limited to me.  The 25MB alone is a disgrace…. Forget uploading more than a few pictures to Flickr, forget last.fm streaming or BBC iPlayer, don’t even try to sync a large e-mail inbox…  Normobs will easily exceed this.  And how is restricting all commercial use fair?  Does a business e-mail have a greater impact on Virgin’s network than a personal one?

Rubbish!

In my opinion this is deliberately misleading – I’m off to see if this is covered by the ASA and make a formal complaint.

By Ben Smith

Ben is an expert on enterprise mobility and wireless data products. He has been a regular contributor to Mobile Industry Review since 2007 and is also editor of Wireless Worker.

22 replies on “Virgin Mobile: More abuse of the word ‘unlimited’”

25 MB a day is ~750MB a month. More than Vodafone offer for “unlimited” data – less than some other operators' “unlimited” offer. Different pricing though.

Utterly shocking that all operators can get away with this. But the first to say “Get XYZ MB” will lose out to the unscrupulous ones saying “Unlimited”.

That being said – have you ever taken a detailed look at how much mobile data you burn through?

I'm a really heavy data user on my BB8800. Lots of browsing, Google Maps, Games, ringtones, YouTube. I use it a lot. My total data usage for August was less than 100MB.

My N95 8GB – with its faster 3G radio – similar pattern of usage every day- less than 160MB.

I seriously cane these devices. The only think I use WiFi for on the N95 is downloading video podcasts. I may rethink that as I'm obviously not as heavy a user as I thought!

I don't know (and if I did, I doubt I could share) the average amount of traffic an “average” user get through. But I suspect it may be less than many of us hope.

All that being said – the number 25 is sooooo far away from unlimited it's not funny. I wonder if I could pay Virgin an “Unlimited” amount of money for cable tv…?

T
(Not speaking for Voda – or anyone else of interest)

Terrence – if taken across a month I'd agree with you… it's reasonable under the current mass-abuse of 'unlimited' (Voda included). But per day doesn't give any flexibility for one busy day and then a few quiet ones which I think is a more typical usage.

300MB per device is my 'heavy use' max too, but if I go to a party I'll exceed 25MB with pictures, google maps and the like fairly easily.

Helen: Aaw you presentation. Loved it and agree… but…

30p is only a great deal if it is unlimited. 25MB is so low as a per day limit (note: it's not an average over a month) that consumers need to monitor use on this tariff even more carefully than the existing monthly ones.

30p a day is *revolutionary* and a great step forward bearing in mind it was only on Monday I was begging the operators to stop having silly tariffs [ video and blog post about it here http://technokitten.blogspot.com/2008/11/there-is-no-future-to-mobile.html ]. Yes, the small print is annoying and how you work out your megabyte usage anyway is a mystery to me and definitely to normobs. But looking at Terence’s comments, it’s going to be quite hard to kill your phone datawise unless you’re downloading full fat video all day.
Also, how do you define ‘work’ email? Are they going to check every email in my gmail account then to work out which one is a work one and which is not?

Seriously though, 30p a day is a great start, with no contract, makes mobile internet usage much less scary for the average prepay normob in the street. A step in the right direction for sure.

In Ireland with Voda you get 50MB per day for 99c, Since November last year (I think).

So that equates to 86p in the UK at today's rates. Erm……..this post would looked a lot better a few months ago when exchange rates were in your favour…

Im gonna shut up now 🙂

What a load of complete and utter twoddle!!

So basically you can print/broadcast whatever headline you like so long as the small print retracts the statement…?!?!?!

Imagine the chaod if this type of logic was applied to other industries?

“Go-away-Baldness

Hair Re-Growth Formula***

***Will not reduce the rate of your baldness”

What is the point in that??

I have t o go with Helen here… I think its a fantastic step forward and will take the fear away for the average user.

What would be great would be a text message from Virgin to say you are close to your daily limit.

Maybe it could be a tick box option that used some of your credit to send the message or something?

£2.10 for 175 meg of data a week is pretty cool if you ask me !

…or 1 podcast
…or a few biggish apps
…or a party's worth og big pics
…or some QIK streaming

All of this is allowed by the T&Cs but makes it very easy to exceed 25MB…

The full tariff table is here http://is.gd/dbd5 and you'll see that it's ambiguous as to what the charge is for downloads… do the file sizes come under your 25mb a day if it's 'on deck' (i.e. via the Virgin Mobile portal)?
How does one keep track of how many MBs one is using? It's not like there's a little ticker in the corner of your browser to keep you informed. Will you be informed that you're near your limit and will be charged £2 a mb afterwards? Is it aggregated over a month or is it really a per day limit that's going to be enforced? And if you don't know how it's being measured, how is that fair?

So what does 25MB look like to the average normob? What level of browsing, gmail, twitter, facebook does that give you? It might be easier to lobby for Virgin to make it clear what 25MB actually means than get them to up their limits.

I also think Virgin have to show customers when they're near their limit so they can choose to curtail their mobile internet usage so that billshock isn't the result.

Of course, if it could be aggregated over a month so that the charge was 30p a day up to a maximum of £9 a month or something it would be better.

It's very frustrating that mobile tariffs are so complex. How anyone is supposed to work it out is beyond me :/

So what does 25MB look like to the average normob? What level of browsing, gmail, twitter, facebook does that give you? It might be easier to lobby for Virgin to make it clear what 25MB actually means than get them to up their limits.

I also think Virgin have to show customers when they're near their limit so they can choose to curtail their mobile internet usage so that billshock isn't the result.

Of course, if it could be aggregated over a month so that the charge was 30p a day up to a maximum of £9 a month or something it would be better.

It's very frustrating that mobile tariffs are so complex. How anyone is supposed to work it out is beyond me :/

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Hair loss or Alopecia is a problem most of us are facing on a daily basis. Some studies say that men tend to “get” balder faster or that stress contributes to this problem or plainly we're just born with it – carried by genes that is. Nevertheless when it comes to hairloss or caderea parului we have to agree that women suffer the most and spend up a fortune to get rid of this problem. The thing is most products aren't even half good as they are marketed so what's a woman to do ? I think that natural remedies (using eggs and aloe vera) can help your hairloss problem but if people don't start eating and living healthy there's no stop to this issue.

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