Tuesday, 17 January 2017

When Unlimited collides with (un)fair use policies

"No sir, please, don't take the steam tray!"

Mmmmmm..... All you can eat. Thank you USA for bringing this concept to dining, as it has changed the landscape for most services, including telco's.

This article shows us all some lessons we can learn about when a mechanism for reasonable consumption can not only fatally erode customer goodwill, but also begin to breach such basic principles as bait and switch laws.

This is a bit of a story, so settle down with your coffee and stay away from sharp objects if you are the empathetic kind. Especially don't read this post. (http://rantingaboutdigital.blogspot.com/2017/01/stories-from-front-amusing-tale-of.html)

At the end, I will talk about how this situation works in the digital world, and the importance of such basic principles such as transparency, and how the word "reasonable" is an expression that simply causes division and unmet expectations.

So on with the story. Bring in Lyca Mobile. You know what? For the price, they are a pretty good network. For service, well, let me share an experience I just had with you.

I was working as a consultant in London, and have passed my phone number on to many clients. For personal reasons, I am moving back to Switzerland, and my employer is kind enough to enable that for me.

Now to my phone. I have options. I can keep my number in Britain and still call from Switzerland, and enter the "Roaming Empire" with a normal provider, or I could take up Lyca Mobile with this fantastic offer!

Being Swiss, I did my homework. (Note screenshots were taken on Tuesday 11th of January, 2017. I suspect this will change shortly after publishing)


Wow, great deal. Let's see the details!

Fabulous! Exactly what I need!

Plus roaming from WHERE?!? OK... Sold! And hey! Website of the year 2016! How can I lose?!?

Trust me, there are no cookies.

Well, after experiencing not being able to dial out, I decided to phone support. As it's a long story, you can find it here. (http://rantingaboutdigital.blogspot.com/2017/01/stories-from-front-amusing-tale-of.html)

In summary, what came out was that I had "used up" my unlimited plan. Umm... isn't it all you can eat?



Sadly, no. Apparently, all you can eat, means you get 1000 minutes of calls. In the voice of the sea captain: Time for the goons, Aaaar!

Further to your email, we could see that the allowances of the EU plus bundle are used successfully in Switzerland.  If you face any issues in using the international minute’s allowances of the EU plus bundle, please help us with the details below so that we can escalate to concerned department for investigation.(excerpt from full email shown here.)

Craftily, the 1000 minutes was only declared verbally, but when you know this, the statement makes sense.

So. We have a case of all you can eat, not being all you can eat. When I order, I place trust and faith in you to provide me with what I'm looking for. If I have a misconception on the service this is the time to call it out.

When I saw the ad, and spoke to a human customer service salesman, I came to the logical conclusion that all you can eat, means I am same to imagine all you can eat shrimp!


In reality, this is what Lyca Mobile sees:


Bit of a difference. Nicely presented, still great value, tasty when you eat it, but you know what? If this is the deal, then why when I check my balance, do I see this?

Apparently, "Unlimited"/"Unlimited" is "Contradictionary".

What... "Contradictionary" is a perfectly "Cromulent" word.
Contradictionary (n) Where the actual meaning is the complete opposite to what is defined in the dictionary.

cromulent. adjective. Appearing legitimate but actually being spurious : These citations are indeed cromulent. [a word used by the schoolteacher, Miss Hoover, in an episode of The Simpsons, in which she defended one made-up word by making up another] http://www.dictionary.com/browse/cromulent
Yeah, so I have unlimited left, right? Even if I'm being unfair to Lycamobile? We'll talk about what's fair shortly.

If I am being unreasonable, at best, this is mystery dining. It's not transparent at all.

Am I eating shrimp? How much shrimp do I get? Have I finished my shrimp? Am I in fact eating Shroedinger's cat?

Who knows? I may be, and may not be at the same time!

If I know what's going on, and it's communicated to me, you are managing my expectations. You are managing what's fair.

Inescapably the judges of what's fair and what's not, lays with your customer. Why? You always want to provide your service. Your customer is the limiting factor to your business growth. Anything else is simply short term thinking. And to those of you out there who believe that short term thinking is the right way to go, as in the long term we're all dead anyway... those who think short term tend to not be around in the long term. We are discovering that as a society now, but that's a different story.

I would love to hear what's fair and what's not from my dear readers. Is 1000 minutes at £35 a month, as a hard "fair use" policy fair? Is it fair to cut you off cold turkey, with no explanation whatsoever, especially when you have received advice from their bundle people?

Tell me, at what point does a "Fair Use Policy" become an "Unfair Use Policy"? Look, I get it. You can't give away the farm, and nor should you. I want to pay you what the service is worth, because I want you in business next month, next year, in fact as long as I need a phone and my other connected to the internet.

(And as a consultant, you can take my connected devices of my cold, dead hands.)

In fact, when does it really become a bait and switch? My perception is that I have unlimited calls to anywhere, from anywhere, in the list of countries shown. The reality is I have 1000 minutes, with no messaging. Even support seems to have the dickens confused out of them.

Am I buying a new Rolex, or a "mostly new" watch?

Why the deception? Aren't you confident enough that you products will sell on their own merits?

Well, Lycamobile, the ball is in your court now. The reason why I thought I would invest all of this time, is because at least somebody in Lyca invested a lot of time to get a product to us that does work, and does deliver value. Surely, this is just a mistake, and when the right person sees it, it will be rectified.

The Simpson's had a happy ending. The sea captain had a new promotion to bring in customers, Homer allegedly ate twice his weight in shrimp. Only Marge had to suffer public humiliation.

I wouldn't mind if this were my outcome, although I'm sure that my poor long suffering wife will relate to Marge as she cringes again while I follow my never ending trend of not taking bad customer service without talking publicly about what we can all learn from it.

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