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Getting screwed by Soul mobile - help needed

Discussion in 'The Pub' at netrider.net.au started by pringa8, Feb 5, 2008.

  1. Hey guys, a friend of mine here at work has been screwed over by Soul, those new mobile phone providers. Basically she had no idea what she was doing with the GPS on her phone and inadvertantly started downloading a map from the internet via the phone. Problem was this was happening in the background and proceeded to for the next 50 odd hours. This resulted in a 250MB download which they are trying to charge her $1200 for!!!

    I've heard stories of phones not hanging up properly on international calls while the charge ticks over, but people not being liable for some reason or another, ie they weren't aware this was occuring and they weren't using the phone.

    Is there any recourse in this situation?? I just dont want to see her getting screwed over for a simple mistake.
  2. I couldn't say for sure if she has any legal leg to stand on, but...
    She could write a letter stating she did not in any way request the download, there was no warning or evidence given that there was a download being done. that the settings were as far as her knowledge default, and that no instructions identifying the risk were provided. Therefore as the company who configured teh phone she sees it as there responsibility, and if the debt is not cleared she will be refering the matter to the telecomunications ombudsman.

    Odds on, they will put it in the to hard basket, and just clear teh debt.
    If they don't then refer the case to the ombudsman with the same information and cross your fingers.
  3. My boss got stung for over $1k with email downloads in a similar fashion. Even with our contract coming up for renewal one month later, they refused to waive the charge. Funny thing was we were already spending over $1k a month with them, and they lost that business for ever.

    I'd say she's stuffed, as we couldn't even get out of it with some bargaining power behind us.
  4. I'd use a mixture of denial and acting dumb, tends to work with Vodafone.
  5. Well, a quick look on Whirlpool -Mobile Carrier forums turns up that Soul's customer service is pretty ordinary.

    OK here's how this goes down:

    1) She owes them the money.
    Whether she likes it or not, she did download something at a pay rate which she agreed to. She might not remember specifically, but it'll be in the contract she signed.
    Soul are within their legal rights to demand payment for the provision of services at the rate agreed to. This includes: sending the bill to a collections agency, and compromising your friend's credit rating [which isn't great if she wants to get another phone contract or a credit-card/loan sometime in the near future].

    Her options include:

    - pay the bastards.

    - Getting through to someone high-up enough at Soul to work out a reduced charge or discount on this bill. Stating that the use was inadvertent... they may allow her to switch to another plan, base the bill on that, then switch back to her usual one afterwords.
    This may lower the cost of the bill.

    - Check contract to see what her liability is if the phone has been stolen. If her liability is limited enough below what her bill is OR she has no liability for usage of the stolen phone: it might be worth chucking it in a drain somewhere and reporting it stolen. Depending on the time-frame, if she is queried she could claim "I thought it was just lost, and it might turn up, but when I got the bill that's when I realised someone else must be using it..."

    - Take them to court, prove her contract was incorrect/false/misleading, or that the design of the phone allows unintentional usage of billed services which the company profits from [gay option that wastes time and money!].

    Check the contract. If there's a limit of liability that's better than this bill: can it, and report it stolen.

    Of course, the nice and friendly mobile phone service provider discount option would be cool too [and she gets to keep her phone and number, etc] - but the cynical part of me figures she'll spend a hundred hours on hold and never get through to the right person who can help her out... and even if she does, their automated system will still send her angry notices demanding cash and may even send it on to collections.
  6. 1, Write to Soul and request that the bill be waived / looked at and that a payment scheme be worked out if they won't waive it. They must do this under the consumer credit codes.
    2, If they don't play, relay all the information to the TIO (Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman), and ask if they will treat it as a "billing dispute".
    3, Get everything in writing / make notes.

    Unfortunately, the other posters are correct in that she incurred a charge under a contract. Her "out" will be if they deceived her, the contract was unfair or they didn't advertise / inform her about relevant terms, conditions or charges.
  7. Thanks for taking the time out on the very detailed responses guys. Just dont want to see the poor bugger get screwed over through something was essentially not her fault but we know what telecommunications companies are like....
  8. I'll throw one at you..

    When you try to d/l the file (map you said) does the phone tell you the size of the d/l for that file? I think it's lunacy to think that a phone download will be anything like 250mb. I think there must be an obligation to advise of the download size where charges will be incurred, particularly for a file of this size that would result in such a massive cost.

    Also if this took 50 hours (assuming it is charged on a time basis not data basis) to d/l, then perhaps the file should have downloaded much faster, and therefore the data access is not fit for purpose intended, and not of merchantible quality.
  9. Ktulu, the stolen option probably won't float, because she's no doubt had similar usage patterns in the time since the download.

    Be a bit of a stretch to think whoever stole it kept calling/texting her family/friends/etc. It would then fall in the category of something more akin to fraud I would imagine, and quite easily provable fraud at that!

    Good luck getting it sorted. Sounds like a huge rort, particularly if, as TWEET suggested, you have no notion of the size of the thing you are about to download (or indication that it is downloading in the background)!

    Butz. :beer:
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  11. From teh description i would say it is a GPS and map scenario where as your GPS feeds new values teh phone updates teh map, so it is not a single download, but a continuos streem of updated data.
    But if the manual doesn't identify that the GPS incurs you download then i would say they are at fault for inadiquitly disclosing the cost of using the GPS. Normaly a GPS is free to run.
  12. ^True.

    The report it stolen thing only works within a select timeframe or with planned usage.
  13. Must have been a HUGE map, my PDA GPS maps are 250MB for the whole of Australia. And each state is independant so have to change over to each state as needed.
  14. Maybe that's what was happening?? The part I dont get is that the maps come for free with this phone/GPS. Using the GPS is free also. Basically she's unknowingly downloaded something which wasn't even needed and didn't know it was downloading the whole time! It only stopped cause she pulled the battery out for some reason.
  15. I can pick up my phone right now and download as much data as my memory card will hold. There is no way of Soul knowing what she was downloading and whether it was a download she requested or not.

    Fact remains, she used the data, she unfortunately needs to pay for that usage.
    Expensive lesson.
    Not really something that Soul can be blamed for.
  16. Another option (maybe) is this:

    Did she request to have data/GPRS etc enabled? What is Souls policy on data? is it automatically enabled or is this something she needed to have activated?

    Its a long shot.....
  17. Who is your carrier Vic?
    I have Vodafone and it tells me when i will be charged for a download...
  18. 3.

    VF will tell you if you are about to d/l it from their server?

    I was talking about the net in general.

    Data is more expensive if you are roaming.
  19. They should be able to identify where teh traffic came from via things like proxy logs, and if a default setting made it easy to stumble on whatever has happened without being disclosed yes they can be held responsible, if this is not teh case she is screwed.
    But if the story as it has been conveyed to us is accurate then Soul as the vendor of the phone (Or more specificly the people who configured it) can definately be held responsible.
  20. Similar to Toecutter, my Garmin Zumo maps of all Australia are just 132MB, and my phone has a 2GB card in it, so there should be no need to download anything else to use it. In fact, the Zumo uses only 226MB for a base map of Australia, the 132MB detailed map, a Points Of Interest database, and the operating system including images and voice prompts.

    I think what was downloading would have been value added stuff, like Points Of Interest nearby, restaurant reviews, movies showing, map updates, whatever. There should at least have been some indication on the screen, like an icon or something, similar to having the bluetooth icon showing when it is turned on. Of course, she may have seen the icon and not known what it was. Wouldn't be the first time that happened.

    Anyway, downloads should have been capped at a reasonable level, and SMS messages should have been sent when approaching her monthly limit. In other words, Soul should have been proactive in helping their customer avoid excess usage changes. Unfortunately these new phones with built in GPS seem to be designed to catch people out with high data usage. It seems to be deliberate to me.

    My brother has a phone capable of doing the same thing. He turned on the GPS function to check it out, realised it was downloading lots of stuff, and turned it off straight away. He still received a significant data bill for 10 minutes usage. Live and learn.