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Forcing users into bundles - appalling practice

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MAYG
2: Seeker

This isn't really a question for the community, as I just got my issue resolved (I think...) after 30 minutes on hold to the 191 number. I just wanted to get this off my chest...

 

The way that Vodafone presents its 'Big Value Bundles' is at best baffling, and at worst downright misleading. I had a lengthy dialogue with a Vodafone Customer Service rep on live chat last week, who assured me that it was fine to have PAYG with no bundle - if I didn't want a bundle, I simply didn't need to buy one. This suited me, as the sim would be used sporadically, so I was happy to pay 30p / minute straight from my balance.

 

So I ordered a Vodfone PAYG sim, topped up £10 with a voucher, and guess what - the £10 credit was immediately consumed on a £10 bundle without my permission. It seems the bundles are turned on by default - in direct contradiction to what the rep told me, and contrary to the flow of the Vodafone site (where I had the choice BETWEEN topping up OR buying my first bundle, see the attached picture).

 

Vodafone.jpg

Nothing I had done suggested I wanted this bundle, and at no point had my permission been sought to spend all my credit on one. VERY bad form Vodafone, I've been with you an hour and have already formed a clear opinion on how you do business.

 

The 191 line have now cancelled the bundle and reinstated my £10 credit. From the call it was clear that they have to do this a LOT.

 

It strikes me that Vodafone's marketing materials & practices around these bundles is very dodgy - I'lll be writing to Vodafone & the regulator to tell them so.

 

Thanks for listening, I feel better for that...

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Annie_N
Community Champion (Retired)

Unfortunately, the problem starts at the point when you acquire the SIM, as they do arrive already set up for something - usually for the Big Value Bundle, which is certainly the only state in which you can buy them from general outlets. Then, the trick is to opt out of the BVB before you top up, but tbh I've no idea how a new customer is supposed to be able to know this and achieve it.

 

You can get one set up for any of the Freebies if you order your SIM on https://freesim.vodafone.co.uk/ I'm not sure whether Vodafone stores can supply SIMs with anything other than the BVB set up on it - they probably can, but whether the staff would know this I couldn't say. If you buy a new PAYG phone in a Vodafone store, it will be priced on the basis that the price can only be had if you buy at least a £10 BVB at the same time. The same doesn't apply if you buy online, as you can choose the "I'll use my own SIM" option, but some of the online prices are higher, I believe.

 

The Freebies don't have any disadvantages when compared with the raw PAYG state, but I'm certainly inclined to agree with @MAYG that channelling new customers so firmly towards the BVBs is dubious practice, to say the least.

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BandOfBrothers
17: Community Champion

Hi

 

Thank you for leaving your post on the eforum and may I welcome you to the eforum as a new member. 

 

Similar discussions have centered around what's available on Payg and in the whole the Big Value Bundle is what most people are wanting. Some sims are set up to start that option. 

 

Basic Payg Ref @Annie_N
"Yep, what you need is the Freebie Minutes, described under the Freebies Tab here. Add £10, and that becomes the credit on the phone. For the first 30 days you have an allowance of 150 UK minutes, to use or not as you prefer. But the credit remains on the phone pretty much indefinitely, except that you do have to make a chargeable call (or send a text) - well, the rules say every 270 days, but that's dangerously long, and it gets forgotten, then the number gets disconnected, and the credit lost. But, provided you remember to make a call every couple of months (at a current cost of 30p per minute, or 14p for a text), then the initial £10 will last a good long time. And, when you put the next £10 on, you get your next allowance of UK minutes - except that, if you keep spinning out your £10, the details of the offer could have changed by then.

 

From https://forum.vodafone.co.uk/t5/Pay-as-you-go-products-services/PAYG-SIM-required-that-you-dont-top-...

 

Is this still relevant information @Annie_N ?

Current Phone > Samsung Note 20 Ultra 5G - SM9860 Snapdragon.

Samsung One Ui 3.1  / Android 11.

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MAYG
2: Seeker

Thanks for the reply Lee. If I click through to Annie_N's original answer, there's a link to a Vodafone page, where you can sign up for 'Freebies' (there's also a tab for 'Big Value Bundles' and 'Bundle or Freebie'.

 

But nothing I see on that linked page mentions good, simple, old fashioned PAYG. It's like Vodafone are trying to kill (or obscure) what most people will know as PAYG: where you add credit & use it up as you go along.

 

Annie_N says "there is a second step, so make sure that it is definitely the Freebie Minutes SIM that you are ordering"

 

So it sounds like the SIM I received was preset to be a 'Bundle' SIM? And I needed a different SIM for simple PAYG? I defy anyone to understand that from Vodafone's marketing materials. The customer services rep I spoke to at length last week didn't mention that I needed a 'special' SIM in order to avoid having a Bundle, she simply said 'don't buy a Bundle'.

 

Think I'll use up my tenner & go elsewhere, I could be Vodafone's shortest-ever customer relationship.

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JamesK
2: Seeker

There is somewhere on the topup menu where the 'automated bundle renewal' can be turned off.  I actually like the bundles, as the Voda payg charges indivudually would probably cost me more than 10 quid.


It is effectivly paymonthly contract except you can opt out of the renewal by calling 2345 and getting to the settings (voda have also made THESE more complicated, probably on purpose)

http://www.vodafone.co.uk/terms-and-conditions/consumer/mobile/pay-as-you-go/big-value-bundle/


You do seem to have been misled by the seller, or at least its not been made clear.

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BandOfBrothers
17: Community Champion

Hi

 

You're welcome. 

 

There isn't a special SIM card for the different Payg Options as this is achieved via the Account to what type a person uses. 

 

Live Chat or Customer service on 191 @25p per call if connected to an agent should be able to switch the tariff to suite if available. 

Current Phone > Samsung Note 20 Ultra 5G - SM9860 Snapdragon.

Samsung One Ui 3.1  / Android 11.

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Annie_N
Community Champion (Retired)

Unfortunately, the problem starts at the point when you acquire the SIM, as they do arrive already set up for something - usually for the Big Value Bundle, which is certainly the only state in which you can buy them from general outlets. Then, the trick is to opt out of the BVB before you top up, but tbh I've no idea how a new customer is supposed to be able to know this and achieve it.

 

You can get one set up for any of the Freebies if you order your SIM on https://freesim.vodafone.co.uk/ I'm not sure whether Vodafone stores can supply SIMs with anything other than the BVB set up on it - they probably can, but whether the staff would know this I couldn't say. If you buy a new PAYG phone in a Vodafone store, it will be priced on the basis that the price can only be had if you buy at least a £10 BVB at the same time. The same doesn't apply if you buy online, as you can choose the "I'll use my own SIM" option, but some of the online prices are higher, I believe.

 

The Freebies don't have any disadvantages when compared with the raw PAYG state, but I'm certainly inclined to agree with @MAYG that channelling new customers so firmly towards the BVBs is dubious practice, to say the least.

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BWeir
2: Seeker

Yes, I totally agree. I have fallen for the same scam, and have just spent another ten quid topping up. The service still doesn't work even after a paid for a call to their "support" desk where a nice chap said he would reset my account and everything would work after switching my phone off for 15 minutes. Needless to say - it still doesn't work. So to summarise - 25 quid down the toilet for no services and zero "credit" and no minutes used. I notice they had the money out of my bank in no time flat, but do not have anyone available to help me on their "chat" service. I installed "My Vodafone" onto my iPhone but it just says "You are not registered for any data services". Does the regulator know about these fraudsters?

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Annie_N
Community Champion (Retired)

@BWeir Possibly a silly question, but your phone isn't locked to another network, is it?

 

If it's definitely OK for Vodafone, getting the data connection working can be the hardest. You don't mention which phone, but this gives the instructions for the iPhone 6 - if it's a different phone, change device at the top of the page.

 

For PAYG, the username and password are wap rather than the web stated in the instructions.

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BWeir
2: Seeker

@Annie_N Thank you for your interest - This is an iPhone previously used by my son on a Vodafone contract. As you rightly say I want to use it as PAYG. The BVB wording is new to me, and nowhere on the Vodafone web site presents a succinct description of what it is exactly. When I bought the Vodafone SIM I specifically requested PAYG, and the sales person assured me that BVB was the Vodafone equivalent - it apparently is not. However, after many hours digging in this forum, I came across some information which pointed me in the right direction, and as you say it revolves around differing APN's for PAYG services. I *think* that it is now working, as having changed the "Mobile Data Settings" it sprang into life. Thank you for the link you posted, it helps enormously. Shame the shop staff don't tell new Vodafone users about it. I am still wondering what "opt out" of BVB means and implies for my intended useage.

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MAYG
2: Seeker

I think Annie_N should be employed by Vodafone to rewrite their rubbish marketing copy - one post from her explained more than all the verbiage on the Vodafone website!

 

The Big Value Bundle idea seems bizzare to me as a PAYG user. If I'm compelled to put on a minimum of £10 a month, and it all disappears after 30 days... well that effectively sounds like a £10 sim-only contract (as JamesK's already pointed out).

 

I guess it might suit some people, and I suppose if you're hard up you can simply not add a bundle during a lean month... but then you have no phone at all!

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BandOfBrothers
17: Community Champion

I concur @MAYG

 

@Annie_N certainly knows her stuff. 

 

👍🏻

Current Phone > Samsung Note 20 Ultra 5G - SM9860 Snapdragon.

Samsung One Ui 3.1  / Android 11.

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Annie_N
Community Champion (Retired)

Well, thank you! :smileyembarrassed::smileyembarrassed:

 

In defence of BVBs, it should be said that they suit a lot of PAYG customers, particularly the relatively heavy users. The snag with the SIMO contracts is that they are just that - contracts! So you have to pass the credit tests to get one, and then, if you get things badly wrong enough, you could end up damaging your credit score. Whereas with the BVB, or indeed any of the Freebies, you can stop whenever you like, take a month or two off from topping up, or mix and match with the Extras as well, to get a deal that suits you. The worst that is likely to happen is that you have no funds or allowances on your phone for a month or two, but unless you let it drift a long time, that won't stop your friends calling or texting you, even if you can't return the compliment.

 

I have a Freebie Data, and sometimes I have Extra Minutes, but basically I make it all up as I go along, and reckon I get a very good deal out of it. At the end of last year I did experiment with the BVB for a few months, mainly because I felt I needed to know more about how it worked out in practice. I was tempted to stay with it, as all I had to do was ensure that I kept my balance high enough, and the BVB would roll on without my forever wondering whether I needed Extra Minutes for the coming month, or whatever. But I just don't use my phone heavily enough to justify that, so I reverted to the Freebie Data.

 

Which brings me to the question raised by @BWeir - how to opt out of a BVB before it can automatically renew itself. If you have less than the required £10 on your account, and make sure that you don't top up until more than 7 days after the old BVB expires, you will be opted out, and you are then in basic PAYG mode, unless you opt in to a Freebie or buy a new BVB. (And it's important to opt in to the new Freebie before you top up, to get the allowance when you do top up.)

 

However, if you have £10 or more, or want to get onto a Freebie as soon as possible after the BVB has ended, you need to opt out before it ends, so that it won't renew. You can do that via your online account, under Manage Services (Correction: it's under Current Usage: Bundles and Freebies!) Or you can do it via the 2345 Credit Line - initially take Option 2 for everything other than topping up, then ask to be told about BVBs (possibly Option 2 again, but it is IVR so you get options appropriate to the details of your account), and at some point you will be told that you've got the product, and did you want to opt out?

 

It isn't possible to opt out of products via the My Vodafone app; I believe that it provides a lot of information and options for PayM accounts, but it is rather more basic for PAYG.

 

If you are still stuck, contact CS - details via the link in @BandOfBrothers signature!

 

Once you have opted out, wait until the original BVB has expired, and then you will be able to opt in to another Freebie, and only then should you top up (by at least £10 in one go) to get your free allowance for the next 30 days.

 

Phew! I hope I've covered it all, but realistically it's quite hard to explain, and keep tabs on all the possible ramifications. On the one hand there are all these options which add up to a lot of flexibility, but on the other hand it is quite complicated in order to accommodate all the options.

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BWeir
2: Seeker

Thanks @Annie_N. As @MAYG says above, it still seems bizarre to call something PAYG when your purchase does not buy you anything and it disappears after 30 days whether you use it or not. I just wanted to use this phone for minutes and texts - (no data requirement) - as a pensioner my usage is low, just keeping in touch with family and as an ICE device. It seems I made a mistake going with Vodafone. When my BVB is gone I will have the phone unlocked and move to another provider. All in all, a salutory lesson - if you don't fully understand the sales speil ... don't commit.

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