Recent research from OFCOM has confirmed that many broadband users have been stung with huge data bills after their ‘unlimited plans’ turned out to be false and very much limited. They have discovered countless examples of ‘bill shock’ where users were unaware of the costs they were racking up after assuming all of the data they used was included in their unlimited subscription.
Broadband Genie, who alongside OFCOM performed a survey, revealed that users are constantly contacting them for help and advice when stealth bills hit their doormat. Chris Marling, the sites editor said: “There is no excuse for advertising a broadband product as ‘unlimited’ – suggesting you can download as much as you want – and then bury the times you are allowed to do that in the small print. The same goes for texts and minutes on mobile phones.”
This is very different from the age old speed problem which OFCOM is also trying to tackle, slower speeds don’t constitute higher bills but a poor supply of details on additional data charges can result in large bills that leave a bitter taste in consumer’s mouths. Surprisingly most UK internet providers use the word ‘unlimited’ in their sales spiel or sign up documents but its not until you look in the small print that you realise things aren’t quite as they seem.
One disturbing example explained a customer, who has unlimited mobile broadband, texts and cross network minutes received a £350 bill for a month of usage. Another explained how an IP phoned a customer explaining they had gone over their ‘fair usage limit of 100GB’ and therefore would incur additional charges per GB or suffer dramatically lower speeds going forward.
Ofcom commented on the ‘U’ word in their report, it read: “It is clear some consumers are currently being misled by the use of the term ‘unlimited’ and that many consumers signing up to such packages are not made aware of the relevant fair usage policies.” Going forward they said: “Ofcom recommends that this term only be used when a service has no usage caps implemented through a fair usage policy.”