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 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?


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

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