A Three customer in Ireland recently signed up to Three’s Evolve plan, which includes a new phone with unlimited data along with some texts and voice minutes. With unlimited data on its plan, one evening they decided to enable the phone’s personal Hotspot feature to watch some sport on their laptop. The following morning, a notification text arrived about excess charges. When they logged in to check, they got a nasty surprise to see a €3,880.72 bill due to 4.63GB of out of bundle data usage, as posted by bofination on Boards.ie.
Most mobile providers actively block or cap tethering on unlimited data plans, such as the Three UK network. Three Ireland instead charges for tethered data as out of bundle data at a rate of up to €1.01/MB on some of its plans. When the customer tried contacting Three customer support, the agent offered a discount of 50% as a good will gesture, which still left the customer with a hefty bill of €1940.36. The customer was unable to get the agent to reduce it any further despite claiming it could not afford to pay that reduced bill either. The customer maintained an excellent payment record since first joining the network and is obviously stressed out by this bill, wishing to turn back time.
The customer claims to have genuinely thought that Three’s “All you can eat” plan covered tethering and certainly would never have tethered had they known that there would be a charge. They would have stopped tethering had Three sent a warning message at the time tethering was enabled, but the excess usage warning arrived about 8 hours later, long after the tethering ceased.
This is not the first time Irish Three customers have been charged for tethering as there are several threads in the past on Boards.ie of customers receiving hefty bills for tethering, such as this example of a €1200 bill for 3.5 hours of tethering. Three’s Evolve price plan rules states that the SIM’s unlimited data may only be used for Internet Browsing on your SmartPhone. However, it is very vague on mentioning what happens if the customer breaches this rule:
Data Fair Use: […] You may not use the unlimited data for mobile internet browsing if you are using your device as a modem or with your SIM card in or connected to any other device including modems. You may not use your unlimited data feature to allow the continuous streaming of any audio / video content, to enable Peer to Peer or file sharing, or in any way that adversely impacts the service to other Three customers.
If Three reasonably suspects you are not acting in accordance with the fair usage requirements, and having attempted to contact you first, Three reserves the right to switch you to an alternate inclusive data option with standard browsing charges, to impose network protection controls which may reduce your speed of transmission, to remove the Unlimited Data feature from your account or to terminate your price plan or your account. Three reserves the right to withdraw or amend this offer at any time on reasonable notice.
Based on earlier threads, customers that were on former O2 Ireland plans are the most likely to get charged for tethering. Although Three no longer offers these plans on its website for new personal customers, they offer them to existing Three customers such as when upgrading to a new handset as well as to new business customers. Just a few days earlier, that is exactly what happened with this customer. A Three loyalty rep called offering them a handset upgrade with a new package and now feels being misled and very unfairly treated.