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Vodafone UK Scrap No Expiry for OLD PAYG Mobile Broadband Users

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 (11:14 am) - Score 6,014
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One of the problems with modern pay-as-you-go Mobile Broadband packages is that you get a short expiry time of 30 or 90 days on the data allowance but it didn’t use to be that way. Back in 2008/9 Vodafone launched a dongle (USB Modem) with a “no expiry” period, which many customers have continued to use.. until now.

ISPreview.co.uk also purchased one of these bundles with just 1GB (GigaByte) of data, which is currently connected into the USB port on one of our routers, and for the past 5 years it has served us well during brief fixed line broadband outages; thankfully we’ve only had occasional need of the device.

Many other consumers purchased the same dongle for the same purpose (infrequent and or extremely light usage). But sadly the original “no expiry” tariff (subject to making a connection every 180 days or less) was eventually withdrawn from sale in January 2010 (here), perhaps after Vodafone realised that it couldn’t milk as much money from a “no expiry” allowance, and replaced with a 30 day expiry.

Mercifully customers with dongles on the no expiry payg tariff were allowed to keep using the service. Unfortunately that all changed last August 2013 when subscribers whom attempted to use their dongles were told that the tariffs for future top-ups would be changing and that new 1GB top-ups would now come with a 30 day expiry (a £3 option for 24 hours was also offered).

It was later discovered that the change would apply retrospectively to existing usage allowances, but infrequent users of the service are only finding out about it now. Vodafone did offer a free 1GB top-up to some customers as compensation with a 90 day expiry but many never received that or they did but it expired before they got a chance to use the allowance.

Meanwhile some have been offered compensation for the lost credit but others have not and Vodafone claims that “As a business rule, we do not give refunds on Pay as you go numbers” but they do sometimes admit to making exceptions. A lengthy topic on Vodafone’s Forum charts the anger and frustration that has continued to be vented.

Quote from a Vodafone PAYGMB Subscriber (oldboater):

Vodafone have arbitrarily changed the contract (as they are able to do). They say they notified everyone that this change was going to happen some time ago. Like the rest of us I guess you didn’t see the SMS they allegedly sent out. What happened then was any credit you may have had on your old dongle (non time expiring) was transferred to a monthly PAYG account, this lasted only one month, if not used then you lost it.

This is what has happened to me and dozens of other complainants on this forum. Currently some have had refunds after a battle, many others like me are still fighting the case. I have had two call backs from the refunds department, put on hold and then the line drops out and I have to start the whole process again.”

In fairness many of the related Vodafone dongles were sold boxed in high-street stores and at the time they didn’t require you to hand over your personal details in order to subscribe, which means that it would have been difficult for the operator to inform customers about the change unless they were actively using the service and received the pop-up notification or SMS (many claim to have never seen this and nor did we).

At the end of the day no service lasts forever and eventually even legacy packages are removed and or related customers forced to move elsewhere by changing conditions or costs. Arguably the writing might have been on the wall in 2010, when the old package was first discontinued, but certainly Vodafone could have done a better job of communicating and compensating for the change.

In the meantime those affected would be well advised to pursue a refund. Sadly there aren’t many alternatives to Vodafone’s old “no expiry” plan, although Three UK does offer a 12 month bundle of 12GB but it will set you back a hefty £84.99 for the year. Another option might simply be to make use of your Smartphone’s contract allowance via wifi Tethering.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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