28 November 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Ofcom investigates PAC code refusal

Ofcom is investigating claims that Scotsphone has refused to provide PAC codes to a business customer. The Edinburgh operator uses Vodafone’s infrastructure and is reported to have prevented a user moving thirteen account away from the virtual network by refusing to give out PAC codes. Ofcom regulations decree that operators must provide PAC codes on demand.

Scotsphone is a Scottish business provider which deals with public and private sector contract using Vodafone, Orange and O2. It also sells business landline deals. The initial reports suggest that Scotsphone was reluctant to provide the PAC code due to an outstanding £500 bill. However, Ofcom regulations are clear that this is not a valid reason to deny a customer their PAC code. Scotsphone has admitted that there is an ongoing Ofcom investigation about this issue.

The dispute is said to stem from contested data charges. The customer, who doesn’t want to be identified, is refusing to pay the bill and, in turn, Scotsphone have not provided the PAC code that allows them to change network. Whoever’s in the right about the bill, Ofcom regulations about changing networks are clear. An unpaid bill is never justification for not handing over a PAC code.

It is claimed that the PAC codes were requested for 13 numbers multiple times but they were consistently denied. After that, the matter was referred to Ofcom. The official line is that PAC codes must be handed over “in the shortest possible time” – even allowing a reasonable amount of time, this is still generally considered to be immediately on a phone call. If the PAC is sent by SMS on email the time limit is two hours on a working day.

Feel free to browse our site for more about how to get your PAC code and change mobile network.

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14 November 2011 ~ 4 Comments

T-Mobile/Lyca feud update

A couple of months ago we reported on the T-Mobile rip-off tactics of secretly removing Lycamobile numbers from its inclusive package of voice minutes. Following up on that article, we can now reveal that T-Mobile erroneously list UK-based 07 mobile numbers that were originally issued by LycaMobile as “international” in order to allow their billing systems to charge customers extra.

Like 3, Vodafone and Orange, LycaMobile issue phone numbers on the 074 range (specifically the 07404 prefix code) and T-Mobile automatically charges customers for calls to these numbers even if they have minutes remaining. While some customers have managed to get one-off refunds by complaining and threatening to call Ofcom or CISAS, it seems this is an official T-Mobile policy that is here to stay regardless of its dubious legality.

T-Mobile have thankfully advised the full range of numbers that are not included in their allowances and have confirmed that the additional charges are specified in their Terms and Conditions of service:

07744 07755 07404 07405 074088 078931
075202 075594 075894 075895 075896 079112
075897 07609 07610 07621 07682 079118
077077 0782210 078228 078920 078921

Unfortunately this doesn’t fix the ethical issue of it being utterly unpractical for the average user to check whether a phone number is on the blacklist before dialling. Indeed, we would have thought that it would be a completely reasonable assumption to assume that all UK mobile numbers are allowed for inclusive minutes. The regulators have made it clear that mobile tariffs have to be transparent and nobody could claim that T-Mobile’s advertising about this is at all transparent. In any case, Ofcom, clearly indicate that “numbers 071 to 075 and 077 to 079 are UK mobile numbers”.

A potential solution if you are a Lycamobile user would be to try to request a PAC from another SIM and port in a non-074 number and see whether this addresses the issue. You could even use this opportunity to get a new personalised Gold phone number.

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03 July 2011 ~ 0 Comments

Vodafone Pay As You Go price increases

The latest mobile network to massively raise their PAYG fees is Vodafone. They’ve hiked their PAYG rates up to 20% in response to the recent Ofcom reduction in mobile termination rates. The changes kick in on 14th July.

This is part of a recent trend that has seen 3 tack on a ridiculous charge for delivery reports on 6 June while ASDA Mobile’s rates shot up by up to 50% on 1 June and Orange also increased their PAYG fees substantially on 1 July. Even Virgin Mobile will massively increase their out of tariff prices on 25th July. It won’t be surprising to see other networks follow suit shortly.

Vodafone have gone from one of the cheaper main mobile networks to amongst the most expensive. Their new rates now look like this:

  • Voice call charges have increased by a mighty 19% from 21p/minute to 25p/minute. This applies for all outgoing calls to UK mobiles and UK landlines. The minimum call charge has also risen to 25p. This means you’ll be charged 25p for all calls you make event hose that are shorter than one minute.
  • The voicemail charge has risen from 20p/minute to 25p/minute.
  • Texts have gone up from 10p to 12p per message so the cost for every UK SMS is a whole 20% greater.
  • The price for sending MMS picture messages has leapt to 36p each.
  • Premium rate 09 numbers are now an outrageous £2/minute, a massive 300% increase from the old 50p/minute price.
  • Mobile data has gone up from £1/day to £1/25MB/day with a maximum charge of £5/day.

To see how this affects the prices compared to other networks, feel free to check out our comprehensive comparison chart. After this price change, Vodafone are now tied with Orange, T-Mobile and O2 for the most expensive texts in the UK and only 3, Tru and Virgin Mobile charge more for calls. In fact, this means that Vodafone now charge over 3x as much as budget networks such as Giffgaff.

In fact, as an example, an average customer who usually makes about 40 minutes of calls, sends 150 texts every month will see their bill shoot up from £23.40 to £28.00. This is an increase of £4.60 or 19.7% which is pretty substantial. Of course, if you often use more than 25MB of data in a day (a few YouTube videos can easily reach this much), use picture messages or often make short sub-minute calls, you’ll be hit even harder.

Because of this, existing Vodafone customers will probably be very tempted to switch to a budget network like Giffgaff, ASDA Mobile or Tesco Mobile. You should read our guides to getting your PAC and porting your number if you want to quit Vodafone after this price rise.

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