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Unlimited* – Beware the asterisk

by Andrew Scott

The writer of this blog has unlimited* powers.

That little asterisk (*) seems to crop up all over the place on packaging, posters and websites, and although most people know it’s usually an omen of bad news, few people take the time to find out what that bad news really is.

A few mobile operators have been proclaiming that their data allowance on mobile contracts is unlimited*; the little asterisk representing the existence of terms and condition that stipulate a fair usage policy – doesn’t that mean its limited?

Well according to the Advertising Standards Authority, no. They say it is absolutely fair to use the term “unlimited ?, as long as the customer is made aware of the limits. Eh? Well the ombudsman added, if the limit is unlikely to affect the typical user, then you can say the service is unlimited.

Ok, so unlimited, is only unlimited for normal people, but what about those that aren’t typical? What happens when they reach the unlimited limit? They get charged an arm and three legs.

According to the Guardian, communications regulator Ofcom said that 6% of UK consumers received an unexpectedly high mobile phone bill during the past year, with just under one-fifth of those receiving a bill of at least £100 more than expected.

However, the communications ombudsman, Lewis Shand Smith, is on the side of the consumers and is pushing mobile phone companies to be clearer about what the word “unlimited” in advertisements actually means, along with informing consumers when they are approaching their limit, and advising people on the amount of data that’s already been downloaded.

The moral of the story is always read the small print and if something sounds too good to be true look for the asterisk.

*Only on the 31st of February

Do you think it’s misleading to use the word “unlimited ? in this way? Start the fight back in the comment’s below

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