Of course T-Mobile's unlimited doesn't really mean "unlimited" doh!

If you have ever looked at the marketing hype around either Internet services or mobile phone services it won't take you too long before you come up against the "unlimited" term. This is a much tossed around term, promising untold access to whatever the service is for us the consumer.

Examples include "unlimited" monthly downloads, "unlimited" calls, "unlimited" access, etc. Sounds exciting doesn't it? Just think how much you will save if you don't have to watch the meter.

However, the reality as we know, is much further from the hype.

Not to allow fact to get in the way of a good marketing pitch, the clever PR chaps have come up with a new phrase that null-and-voids the whole "unlimited" mantra. The first step is to put a small * (star) beside the word. Now this is their "Get out of Jail" card as this is now instructing us, the dumb would-be consumer, that there is more to this term. When we eventually find this clause in the contract, we discover their secret weapon; AUP! Accept Usable Policy.

Aaah the very phrase that completely reverses the whole "unlimited" pitch.

Allow me to give you a case in point with T-Mobile here in the UK. They run an Internet service for their customers that claims to give you "unlimited emails". Below is a screen shot of their acclaimed "unlimited" service.

Now you will notice they do indeed follow the standard design pattern for null-and-voiding the "unlimited" claim. Once you do a little digging you will soon discover, the email isn't unlimited, but very much limited at 1GB per month. Okay that sounds a lot, but the point is, its not unlimited is it? Why, therefore, do they fool us with such nonsense and not instead say "1GB of email per month" included?

It was a question I put to T-Mobile and got the following reply (I have slightly edited it for here):

------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Products and Services enquiry - Sales Enquiry Reference 
Date:    Mon, 24 Sep 2007 16:27:42 +0100 (BST)

Good afternoon Mr Williamson

Thank you for letting me know about our email service. I can appreciate 
how frustrating this must be, especially if it's advertising as 
unlimited.  You were right to bring this to my attention and I'm sorry 
for any frustration caused.

I can see on the website, our email section is marked with a footnote 
advising that it's subject to our fair use policy. Can you please let me 
know where it states it's unlimited. I'll then be able to request this 
to be rectified.

I look forward to hearing from you Mr Williamson.

Kind regards

It has to be said that is a rather encouraging response. I have subsequently sent them back a reply and I am keeping an eye on the website to see if they do indeed change the wording. I am not holding out much hope to tell you the truth. I am a long term customer of T-Mobile and on the whole I have no problems with their service, but of late, they are starting to squeeze their limits in a hope to extract more money from me every month.

T-Mobile are not the only ones guilty of this. My ISP is equally at fault but some even take the "limited" biscuit. Some will happily give you your 20GB per month, but should you actually use that much every month, they will tap you on the shoulder and ask you to leave for excessive downloads

Don't let them get away with it. Challenge them on it and get it in print that they are indeed offering a very LIMITED service.


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