T-Mobile/Blackberry hidden costs disappointment

by Suw on October 17, 2006

I was so happy when my Blackberry Pearl arrived this morning that I nearly missed an appointment because I spent so much time figuring it out and playing with it. It's a nice phone – small, lightweight, nice camera, decent interface. But I'm afraid it's going to have to go back to T-Mobile.
The reason that I decided to buy a phone from T-Mobile was that the Web 'n' Walk tariff looked to both me and Kevin to be one of the best data tariffs in the UK. Data here is dreadfully expensive, but Web 'n' Walk promised 'unlimited internet browsing on the move'. (Where, of course, 'unlimited' means 'no downloading big files'.) One of the reasons I didn't use the Treo for internet activity more often was a general fear as to what would happen to my bill if I went over my 4mb allowance. Orange aren't particularly clear about what the penalties are, but I'm betting they're expensive and I've known people accidentally run up bills of thousands of pounds, so I'm very wary about my usage. But the idea of what is basically unlimited surfing and email seemed like a great idea.
Over the weekend, Kevin satisfied his OC comparison shopping gene and came to the conclusion that the Blackberry Pearl was the best of the Web 'n' Walk phones offered by T-Mobile, so I ordered one online. When it arrived this morning, I noticed that it didn't seem able to connect to the internet via GPRS Рthe phone's connection status is permanently 'data connection refused'. So I rang support and they told me that the reason I couldn't connect was because I have to pay an extra £5 per month to get access to the web.
Huh. That wasn't on the website. Apparently I need a service called 'Instant Email' which hooks me up with Blackberry's 'push' email service and the rest of the net. I asked if I could just use the net and not have the push email, but the whole thing's tied in together and I can't have the net without the push email. Which means, I can't make use of the Web 'n' Walk tariff I have bought without paying another £5 per month.
I have a sneaking suspicion that this isn't allowed, and that Trading Standards might have a thing or two to say about it. When you buy a service or product online, you should get what you have paid for with no hidden charges – yet that is exactly what this is.
Let's just review what T-Mobile's site says you get with the Pearl:
Corporate blackberry
Web 'n' walk internet
Instant email
Bluetooth® audio
Bluetooth® data
Look! “Web 'n' Walk internet”… no sign of that extra charge though.
And when you look at the different types of Web 'n' Walk plan, they all say 'web browsing on your phone'. No sign there of an extra charge either.
Indeed, all the way through the sign up process, T-Mobile never once say 'You have chosen a Blackberry phone which will require you to pay an additional £5 per month for access to the internet'. In fact, Kevin's just been through the whole T-Mobile site and has been unable to find any notification of this additional cost. If T-Mobile had mentioned it, I could have picked another phone, or I could have chosen to accept that additional fee (although I probably wouldn't have). But insisting afterwards is just not sporting.
I'm just lucky that I spotted this within the seven day return period guaranteed by The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, which T-Mobile kindly included a leaflet about. Under these regulations, you have 7 days to notify the vendor that you wish to cancel your agreement, and must return all equipment within 7 days of them telling you where to send it. (And I'm betting the cost of that is going to be borne by me, too.) So that's what I'm doing. It's not that I can't afford the extra £5 per month, it's the principle of the thing. I will not be conned like this.
Tomorrow, I might just give Trading Standards a call… and maybe the Advertising Standards Authority too. Meantime, I'm going to have to struggle along with the Treo, which is now sometimes working, and sometimes not, but always a pain in the arse.

Anonymous October 18, 2006 at 6:57 am

Well said! That's a big cost per year, that will affect the pound in your pocket. Damn t-mobile. Their website was down yesterday when I needed to SMS a big set of numbers, with no clue when it would be back up.
(PS I've added you to my blogroll between The Coffee Grounds and Die Puny Humans. Feel honoured!)

Anonymous October 18, 2006 at 11:13 am

It might be worth you phoning them up again to check this.
When I've dealt with Vodafone I've often been told completely contradictory things depending on who I've spoken to. – The services they offer, what I'd have to pay and what I need to do to sign up for a service.
Its apalling that they'd try adn sneak these charge on you, but I suspect that it may be a training issue rather than their actual tariff / policy.

Anonymous October 18, 2006 at 11:43 am

We spoke to the twice, and Kevin did a huge amount of Googling to try and find a way round this. There just isn't one.

Anonymous October 18, 2006 at 4:32 pm

That does sound rather shitty of them.
If it helps any, I routinely go over my 4Mb Orange data allowance. It just costs more. Not shitloads more — I've only *ever* once had a bill over £100 — but enough to be worth changing tariff if you intend doing it frequently. (Except I can't change tariff until the phone I want is available, dammit.)

Anonymous October 19, 2006 at 8:37 am

Watch out when you are abroad data on my UK Treo in France cost £6.81 per MB + VAT. In UK I think its about £3 per MB.
A useful utility on Treo is TrafficStat by http://www.hexlet.com – Does what it says..

Anonymous October 19, 2006 at 9:12 pm

I had a very similar experience with TMobile. They prominently advertised “Mobile Web access!” as being included in my service plan. Then I got the phone and discovered that “Mobile Web” was their term for their cruddy WAP site. If you wanted to get actual port 80 Web access, you needed to pay them $10/month.
I was not pleased.

Anonymous November 9, 2006 at 2:39 pm

I faced the same dilema over the weekend. Assumed web n walk was a GPRS or 3G link which would have given me push email …… they asked for ¬£10 more for this service. I have too returned the phone but started to miss it, I have got it on o2 from carphonewarehouse for free on a total cost of ¬£26.50 per month. Includes 5Mb of allowance and .98p per meg for anything extra.

Anonymous November 24, 2006 at 9:02 am

I utilise the £1 per day unlimited 3G/GPRS offer that T-Mobile pay and go has. T-Mobile will charge you 0.73 pence per KB up till a total cost of £1. Once you have reached £1, the rest of your day is free no matter how much you spend. I've used this to download over 700 MB worth of movie in just over 4 hours on 3G, all for a £1. The total day is from midnight to midnight, so if you activate this offer at 1 am in the morning you will have it free until midnight the next day.

Anonymous November 24, 2006 at 5:58 pm

I'm gonna try shopping again for a nokia E61 next week, so we'll see what the best tarrif is. I'll blog when I know. 🙂

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