How I was bullied by my mobile provider after querying my data usage

How I was bullied by my mobile provider after querying my data usage

How I was bullied by my mobile provider after querying my data usage

Finally there is some uproar about wanting more transparency about our mobile data usage. In my previous article, I wrote about how the ridiculousness of the networks taking our “unused data” at the end of the month even though we paid for it and it now seem that there are many reports across all networks of unhappy people whose’ data is simply “disappearing” from their accounts.

I can relate both to the frustration and the confusion as I too have a tale of woe.

I feel like I was bullied

I text, tweet, Instagram, Email, Facebook, WhatsApp much more than I talk on the phone. This means that it was pointless having  a mobile phone contract that gave me loads of “free” minutes and I had to pay for Data. Therefore, I added a 2GB bundle onto my account which for many many years took care of my mobile data needs.

I then noticed that one of my bills was particularly high and when I queried my bill I was told that I used in excess of my Data Bundle. This was surprising as whenever you come close to using up your data bundle, you are sent an SMS confirming that the Data bundle is about to expire and you should top up. I did not receive such SMS.

When I called Customer Service I was told that these SMS sometimes did not go out and its just a courtesy notification and they are not obliged to let me know. Thanks – good to know.

I then explained that I am a technical guy. I understand how much data is used on my mobile phone. I understand to update my apps in a Wifi zone only. I know that streaming apps take up data. I know not to open megabytes of attachments. I know not to update my phone’s software over the air at these use hundreds of megabytes. I know all of this. This is what I do for a living ! I worked out that the bill equated to me 2.7 GB of data over an 8 day period which is more than I even use in an entire month over my entire lifespan of having the contract.

The provider said they would look into it.

I then received an email saying that if I want them to examine my data usage I had to sign this document:

How I was bullied by my mobile provider after querying my data usage

I have several issues with this.

1. I will not use this information in any civil, criminal and other matter…. – So essentially this means that no matter what they disclose to me, I am legally signing a document saying I can not use the information to make a case out of it ? How can this be legal ?

2. I understand that the url and website information….may be partial, incomplete and may not match NOR EXAPLIN the billable usage charged to me…. – eh…what? So whatever information they give me, may not even match my bill ? so what’s the point of this “investigation into my data” ? They might as well give me someone else’s data usage and say “here it is, it doesn’t match anything but tough !”

3. information will only be provided telephonically and/or verbally and by no other means… – so whatever bull they do give me, they will not put it in writing, but only tell me about it.

I am not a lawyer so surely this cant be. Clearly I am misunderstanding this document. So I sent this email to clarify:


To which I shocked to received this reply:


*sigh* I guess I have to write off that amount…

So there you have it. At that stage, I decided that I would shut off the tap to my bank account and switched to pre-paid. Not only do I have more control of my expenses but I am saving loads of money every months too without wasting those “free minutes”. (read about my Pre-Paid switch here)

Data Tips for leverage

Even if you are a techie, who understands how these devices work, you can still get screwed and there is nothing you can do about it. So what chances do non-techies have when the networks spin a story about how you “must have downloaded something”…?

Whilst there is no fighting, here is what you can do to give yourself some leverage:

  1. Make sure you buy a data bundle. Without a data bundle you are charged premium prices for anything you on your mobile phone that involves data.
  2. Once you purchase that data bundle, understand if it had an expiry date. Some bundles are valid for 30 days from purchase whilst other might get carried over
  3. Set your Mobile phone to only download apps and software updates in a WiFi Zone.  On Android phones, this is done by opening the Play Store, Select Settings, and choose Auto-update App and select over WiFi only. For Apple users, go to Settings, then iTunes & App Store and select Use Cellular Data to off.
  4. On Android, you can set your phone to alert you when you reach a specific threshold of data usage. set that to coincide with the data bundle you purchase. On iOS phone you can check the Cellular Data Usage under the Settings options.
  5. Download a Data Monitor app from the Play Store or  iTunes to monitor your data consumption. These apps will also expose which of your apps are using the most amount of data.
  6. Mobile providers has their own apps which you can use to check on your data usage. As an extreme measure – know your mobile provider USSD code [Vodacom it is *111#] to check on your data usage and take a screenshot of that. Do this at a set time every week so you can see if it matches up to your phone’s data usage.
Liron Segev - TheTechieGuy

Liron Segev - TheTechieGuy

Liron Segev is an award-winning tech blogger, YouTube strategist, and Podcaster. He helps brands tell their stories in an engaging way that non-techies can relate to. He also drinks way too much coffee! @Liron_Segev on Twitter