Unlimited data -- smart phones made it, and smart phones can break it. The latest network to give it a bolt through the brains is Vodafone, which will start charging you for going over your data allowance starting on 1 October.
In June, Vodafone stopped referring to 'unlimited' data in its contracts, and started firing off texts to those of us who go over our data bundle. Now you'll get a bill along with the friendly warnings.
People who have data as part of their contract will be charged £5 for every 500MB over their limit. If you don't have data included in your contract, the fee is 50p for every 25MB.
It should be pretty easy to avoid the charges, since you'll start getting warning text messages when you use more than 75 per cent of your data bundle.
Or, if you're a data addict and you can't cut down, you could switch to one of Vodafone's new plans, which include 1GB of data for the same price as some of its older 500MB deals. To check if you're eligible for the swich, check out Vodafone's guide to switching in its official announcement.
Finally, you could bail on your Vodafone contract completely. Vodafone says that if the new charges will increase your bill by over 10 per cent compared to the previous month, and you cancel by October 1, you'll get out scot-free. But if you feel that you might get dinged by this change and you want to cancel you contract, don't be a stickler for Vodafone's rules. In our experience, a big change to the contract terms, like this one, means that you will be able to cancel -- if you have the patience to outlast the objections of the customer service automatons.
Vodafone insists that only a small percentage of its customers ever go over their data allowance. We're not fans of networks switching and swapping contract conditions, but we're happy to see another nail in the coffin of 'unlimited' data. The Advertising Standard Agency is already going after ads that abuse the term, while networks like O2 and Orange are ditching it altogether.
However, if you do want to ride the unlimited data wave until it peters out on the shore, take a look at giffgaff. This SIM-only network is still offering unlimited texts and Internet -- without even a fair-use policy.
Do let us know what you think of Vodafone's changes in the comments below.
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