We reported yesterday on T-Mobile's decision to arbitrarily change its standard data allowance to 500MB a month on all its contracts as from next month. A condescending statement telling users that they shouldn't be using mobile internet for downloading files understandably got many subscribers up in arms, and now it turns out the network may be in legal hot water too.
Telecoms regulator has confirmed it is investigating the matter on the grounds that providers are required by law to give subscribers 30 days' notice of changes to usage policies, and offer them the option to terminate their contracts if not satisfied with the changes, and that T-Mobile has complied with neither stipulation.
To quote Ofcom's General Conditions [PDF], section 9.3:
Where the Communications Provider intends to modify a condition in a contract with a Consumer which is likely to be of material detriment to the Consumer, the Communications Provider shall:
a) provide the Consumer with at least one month's notice of its intention detailing the proposed modification; and
b) inform the Consumer of the ability to terminate the contract without penalty if the proposed modification is not acceptable to the Consumer.
T-Mobile has specified that the change will affect both new and existing customers, many of whom are specifically paying extra every month for a 3GB data allowance. So there can be no argument that the new regulations are of “material detriment”.
And with the network having announced the change just three weeks before it's set to come into force on February 1, and several consumers having reported that their requests to cancel their contracts have been turned down, it seems like an open and shut case to us.
Says commenter JD on our sister site Bitterwallet:
I asked if I was able to terminate my contract (because of the changes, and the fact I have not received 30 days notification), but I was told no.
[The representative] did offer my a £5 credit to my account which I refused just in case this was some sort of ‘agreement’ between us that I will be excepting their new changes.
We've certainly not heard the end of this one, and we'll be sure to keep you posted on the latest.