Paying the price for automatic updates
YOUR CONSUMER QUERIES:AFTER YEARS of happily using a standard mobile phone, Robbie Doyle’s wife swapped it for a Vodafone own-brand, Smart 2 phone last January.
On the plan she was on, Vodafone Perfect Choice 50 gave her 50 minutes to call any network, any time as well as 50 texts to any network at any time. “Her usual monthly bill was between €35 and €40, paid by direct debit,” he writes. “She doesn’t use the internet on this new phone and is not into Twitter or Facebook.”
The average monthly bills from February to May climbed to around €55, Doyle adds. “The alarm bells went off for us when we saw June’s Vodafone direct debit was €71.64. We went online to check the bill details, as we had opted for paperless billing.”
In the “Call details” section, all the couple could see under the “messages and data” section was charges for something titled “live.vodafone.com Live!”. They were appearing on the bill at all sorts of times, including early morning. Each occurrence was a charge of 80c and amounted to €24.26 in June’s bill. As my wife knows that she doesn’t use the internet, we went back through all her other bills since she got the smartphone and found similar charges dating back to February amounting to a total of over €54 from February to May.”
They rang Vodafone and were told that these were add-ons that she had “signed up to” in her service agreement. Basically, all the Android apps on her phone constantly update automatically, incurring a charge each time of, usually, 80c per occurrence.
“This has amounted to €78 extra on my wife’s bills since she got the smartphone,” says Doyle.
He says that while he knows “it’s buyer beware and if she signed a contract agreeing to this, so be it. However, she is adamant that she was not informed specifically that the phone had an automatic app updating system that would incur extra charges. It was only when we rang Vodafone last night that they switched off this system centrally.”
Doyle says he had already gone through her phone to see what was running and, sure enough, there were almost a dozen apps on automatic update mode, constantly connecting to the internet and incurring regular charges. “Maybe we were naive but I wonder how many other smartphone users are incurring these charges unaware.”
Coverage issue with Vodafone
STAYING WITH Vodafone, Brendan Moriarty emailed us over an issue he has had with Vodafone coverage for almost two years. “It started when I switched from pay-as-you-go to a pay-monthly business plan. My problem is not just where I live but wherever I travel to,” he writes.