Perhaps Up North 'Unlimited' Means Something Different Than It Does Here

from the haven't-we-been-through-this-before dept

There's absolutely nothing wrong with a connectivity provider limiting how people use their connectivity -- as long as it's clearly laid out in how they pitch the service. Unfortunately, too many of these services advertise "unlimited" service, but mean the exact opposite. In the US, Verizon Wireless used to do this. When confronted on it, they tried to doubletalk their way around the issue, claiming that it was "unlimited data for limited types of data" (read that phrase a few times). However, eventually, Verizon Wireless realized how ridiculous this was and started to back off the claims of unlimited data. Unfortunately, that sort of thinking hasn't reached the folks at Bell Canada, who are apparently advertising an unlimited service, while hiding an awful lot of "limits" within the terms of service. Again, there's nothing wrong with them deciding they need to limit the service -- but if they're going to do so, they shouldn't be advertising it as unlimited. It's amazing that no one's been charged with false advertising for these types of misleading ads.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    ECA (profile), Sep 21st, 2007 @ 2:26am

    REALLY

    I believe the word FREE, and Unlimited need to have a LEGAL definition..
    I get tired of FREE 'IF'
    FREE 'WHEN'
    FREE 'AFTER'

    Once these 2 words are USED, nothing more should need to be done. And 90% of this FREE and Unlimited, is CRAP. Some $0.50 pen, or a service you dont want or need.
    EVEN my Credit card has a service. I get it free, but am billed for it, after 30 days...DUH...
    But its funny on my credit card...as the companies that CALL me Using the "credit card name" are another company, that PAYS to use the name, and are NOT affiliated.

     

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    Ken, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 2:28am

    not really news...

    This is quite common, even in the US. Sprint still has a cap on it's wireless "unlimited data". Additionally, I don't know of any cable ISP's that don't have a cap... mine is set at 50gb/month. 50gb/month isn't advertised or even mentioned in the TOS, or even when you go over the limit... rather, you just receive a letter stating that you should be using less bandwidth than you are or your service will be terminated.

    Somebody really should sue these bastards to advertise their limits.

     

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      tc1uscg, Sep 24th, 2007 @ 10:41pm

      Re: not really news...

      That's not true. There is no cap. I have a data plan. Am on the road a lot and use what amounts to thousands of minutes online. Sending email, downloading blue prints, etc. I've never been advised by Sprint I'm using my "unlimited" plan too much. My plan is 60 bucks a month. I uploaded a file 2 days ago that was 1.8 gigabytes. The day before that, I downloaded a set of files that totaled 1.4gb (thank go for rev A). So, you might want to have you plan checked to ensure you just don't have a "access" plan vs data plan.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 2:53am

    you just receive a letter stating that you should be using less bandwidth than you are or your service will be terminated.

    lucky bell canada and videotron (the other major ISP in quebec)

    they give you a limit and once you go over they charge you 8c an extra Mb there is an additional catch here cause they charge you by chunks of 100 Mb's.

    you do the math.

     

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    Shaun, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 3:00am

    Allready fixed in Australia

    Here the plans always specify the speed of the connection which I gather is different in the US as well though they never quite get there with the quality of the lines - it's actually only about 80% of the advertised speedwhere I live. Most plans have a set download limit but it used to be that some providers - like the monopoly provider Telstra - provided "unlimited" plans that were actually shaped - they were slowed to 64k after the download limit was reached. The ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) looked into this practice and warned the ISP's to stop which they did and now everyone advertised their download limit - or the few that actually do that they have unlimited plans.

    The ACCC also has ensured that we have some limited competition by ensuring that Telstra resells wholesale for a reasonable price and allows access for competitors to their exchanges. Telstra of course claims that the wholesale rates are below cost but despite this the are one of the most profitable telcos in the world. It looks like they calculate costs as if they built the infrastructure yesterday rather than with public money when they were publicly owned and so long ago that the payback period is long past - especially as they barely maintain the lines. Someone once had a line hanging over a fence post and a tree branch for 6 months by the time the story got into the local paper.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 3:13am

    Out west (in Vancouver) The main cable ISP is shaw, and they have clearly defined limits (100gig for my plan). If you go over you can expect an email reminding you of your limit, but no action is taken against you, unless (I assume) you go way overboard or frequently go over you limit.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 3:46am

    I used to have a dial-up connection that was "unlimited" once a month Mindspring sent a email asking if I had considered starting my own ISP as I had used more then 700 hours online.

    We had hooked 4 modems in SLI and had wired the block so everyone was connected with a true failover and we were getting 220000 bps not bad for Dial-up so I guess we sort of had set up our own ISP just not for profit.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 3:48am

    I used to have a dial-up connection that was "unlimited" once a month Mindspring sent a email asking if I had considered starting my own ISP as I had used more then 700 hours online.

    We had hooked 4 modems in SLI and had wired the block so everyone was connected with a true failover and we were getting 220000 bps not bad for Dial-up so I guess we sort of had set up our own ISP just not for profit.

     

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    Dom, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 4:30am

    Things have been like that here in the UK for ages. Just about every single ISP here claims "unlimited" bandwidth packages, but in actual fact, they all have limits in their "Fair Use" policy.

    A petition to the government was set up, and they did actually look into it, but came to the conclusion that it was OK for ISP's to say "unlimited" when it actually wasn't. Figure that one out.

     

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    RandomThoughts, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 6:04am

    One positive about the "unlimited" plans that are not actually unlimited. I have a Verizon contract for another 10 months. Unlimited data. If I want to switch, I can just download about 10 half hour shows to my phone, hit their limits and have my contract cancelled. No early termination fees.

     

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      Mike (profile), Sep 21st, 2007 @ 9:49am

      Re:

      One positive about the "unlimited" plans that are not actually unlimited. I have a Verizon contract for another 10 months. Unlimited data. If I want to switch, I can just download about 10 half hour shows to my phone, hit their limits and have my contract cancelled. No early termination fees.

      Actually, apparently Verizon *does* charge you the ETF if you go over their bandwidth limit...

       

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    Me, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 7:56am

    false advertising

    The is no such 'false advertising' law in Canada.
    false advertising tends to lead to bad press which tends to keep people in line.
    After all if I have a cafe and claim I have the best pie in Canada who is to say that is indeed false advertising? (the law indicates word 'best' not mean better than everyone else it just means that mine would be as good as another person who says there is the best.)

     

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      Danny, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 11:42am

      Re: false advertising

      I think that false advertising thing would kick in if you claimed your pie cost only $1 a slice but when a customer goes to order a slice they are told that it is actually $4 and you only get it for a $1 if you buy a $7 entree first.

       

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    Bigpicture, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 8:03am

    There are "truth in advertising" laws in Canada. Where the ad should not lie or be misleading. We just don't have the right ratio of lawyers to regular folks yet, (I believe 2 to 1) for the lawyers to investigate things like this as part of their livelihood. Hell our lawyers are just getting to Ambulance chasing now.

     

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    Jim, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 8:27am

    How about Broadband

    False advertising and Spin surrounds what the CellCo are doing with the term Broadband when all they offer is what we call Narrowband data services if one is lucky in any congested market. Narrowband in this case is around 512Kbps. while most new services offer 2Mbps and above consistently and with WiFi they can get a symmetrical 2Mbps -10Mbps.

     

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    Old Guy, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 8:40am

    OxyMORONs

    Unlimited Internet
    Honest Politician
    Clean Water
    Fresh Air
    Customer Service
    Free Gift
    Unbiased Media
    100% Beef

    ...the list goes on

    Ever notice that when you finish a transaction at the grocery store, the credit card slider asks
    "Is this price ok?"

     

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    chris (profile), Sep 21st, 2007 @ 8:46am

    you want advertising to be honest?

    "truth in advertising" is like "sex in virginity."

    advertising is dishonest. if it was honest you couldn't call it advertising.

     

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    Avatar28, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 3:21pm

    doesn't seem THAT bad

    You shall not use or allow others to use the Service or your Device if such use:

    * consumes excessive network capacity in Bell's reasonable opinion, or causes our network, or our ability to provide services to others, to be adversely affected;

    Okay, this seems reasonable. Seems to be saying that if you're sucking down so much bandwidth you're screwing up their network they'll cut you off. I daresay EVERY ISP has that clause and I can deal with that.

    * is for multi-media streaming, voice over Internet protocol or any other application which uses excessive network capacity that is not made available to you by Bell;

    This seems like it could be some wiggle room for a lawsuit here. The way it's written it could be interpreted as "any other application which uses excessive (network capacity that is not made available to you by Bell)." I.e. as long as it uses network capacity that they make available to you it's okay. Tsk tsk. I'm disappointed that their lawyers would let something like that slide. Granted I'm sure that's NOT what they mean, but the way it's written is loose enough to be interpreted that way.

    * is to operate an email, web, news, chat or other service.

    Depends on what they mean by operate but I believe this is just a prohibition against running a server. You're not really operating the service if you're just using it and if you couldn't use web or email services then a data plan wouldn't really be very much use would it? (i.e. I use Techdirt, I don't operate it).

     

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    MythEdge, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 3:47pm

    No Limits

    As far as I know, being in the phone industry for 8yrs is that Verizon still has a limit and Sprint has no cap. And if Sprint does have a cap, it has to be over 500 GIGS. My boss has an aircard, unlim plan and a kyocera router for his aircard to pump it out wireless through the house. His "friend" works out of the house remotely 6 days a week for around 8hrs a day, her kid is on the comp and xbox 360 7 days a week and he uses the net to DL video / music ALL DAY LONG. (Its set to DL stuff while he is here at work with me ...) he showed me his last bill, $59.99 + Tax for services using almost 400 GIGS of information avg the last 4 months. I'm also surprised Verizon hasn't been sued, I believe their limit is 40gigs. OR if they catch you DL'ing movies / music you get tos'd out.

    If your lookin to break a contract, pull up a service map and find a nice fat hole in their service. Tell them your moving to the area shortly and you won't have service. Usually they will break it if your nice about it ...g'luck.

     

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    Steve, Sep 22nd, 2007 @ 12:27pm

    Bell at it again

    About 4 or 5 years ago, they all of a sudden slapped a 5 gig/month DL limit on high speed internet accounts. Accounts that had been sold as "Unlimited" were now limited to 5 gig, with a "nominal" surcharge per GB after that. Nominal being 4.99/gig. It lasted barely 2 months because thier old install user base raped them in court. The telcos will never learn will they?

     

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