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Vodafone to introduce out-of-bundle data charges

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Vodafone has indicated it will start charging pay monthly customers for extra data they transfer beyond the limit stated in their contract, though the company's own Ts&Cs may prevent it doing so on 1 June as planned.

In a posting on telco's online forum yesterday, a company representative going by the handle 'Tom_Vodafone' and one of the eForum administrators, said: "We are planning to introduce out-of-bundle charging for pay monthly customers from 1 June 2010."

Vodafone, he said, will charge £5 for every 500MB - one pence per megabyte, essentially - transferred beyond the 500MB of data bundled with most phones.

"Customers without a monthly bundle will pay 50p for every 10MB after the first 25MB," he added.

"The reason we're introducing these charges is to make it fairer for everyone, and to protect our network from data abuse," he said. "We're introducing a real-time notifications service to be completely transparent about these charges and keep customers in control of their spend."

Currently, all of Vodafone's data-capable handsets - excluding the iPhone and Google Nexus One, but including popular new models like the HTC Desire and Legend - have a 500MB monthly data limit.

Right now, anyone who exceeds that total is allowed to do so. They are challenged only if Vodafone believes they are abusing its 'fair use' provision.

Unsurprisingly, a lot of forum posters are peeved about this. And some have suggested that the timeframe for the charge violates Vodafone's contract Terms and Conditions. According to posters, the Ts&Cs commit Vodafone to providing one month's notice of such a change. Clearly, if the charges do come into force on 1 June and customers are only learning of the move on 6 May, that's not sufficient notice.

Tom_Vodafone's counter argument is that the Ts&Cs do permit a change: "The current information available online is clear in explaining that we could introduce such [out-of-bundle] charging at any time.

"The Vodafone Mobile Internet costs page does state: 'We'll keep an eye on things and let you know your options if it looks like you'll go over your 500MB Flexi or Value Pack limit'.

"Our Pay Monthly Terms and Conditions already state that we reserve the right to charge for any usage beyond the Fair Usage limit."

Vodafone has yet to formally clarify the matter. We'll let you know when it does. ®

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