Numerous Vodacom BlackBerry users are complaining about being billed for data (at out of bundle rates of R2 per MB) which should form part of the flat rated BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS). There is now a debate on who is to blame for this incorrect billing.
The problem of incorrect billing of BlackBerry clients is nothing new. In February MyBroadband reported that BIS users were seeing their airtime disappear because of data charges despite not engaging in ‘non-BIS’ activities.
Since February numerous BlackBerry consumers complained about the same issue through online platforms such as the MyBroadband forums.
“I am using a BlackBerry 8520 and am active on BIS. The problem is that I am being billed for Internet usage,” said one user.
“My partner’s BlackBerry is taking airtime off her phone even though BIS is on. Whether by the onboard browser or WhatsApp I don’t know, but data is apparently being used that is being paid for with airtime,” said another user.
Yet another BlackBerry user complained that “no matter how many times I wiped my Blackberry I couldn’t figure out what app was triggering Vodacom’s stealth billing, so eventually I uninstalled Vodacom (aka ported to 8ta) which seems to have solved the problem once and for all.”
Alexandra Zagury, Managing Director for Research In Motion (RIM) South Africa and Southern Africa, told MyBroadband that she was not aware of any BlackBerry billing problems in South Africa.
When pushed for an answer about the incorrect BlackBerry data charges, Zagury said that since Vodacom seems to be the only operator with these problems they should be approached for answers.
Zagury further said that RIM would investigate the issue and get back to MyBroadband. RIM SA provided the following response to the question of overbilling:
BlackBerry’s response to overbilling problems
Research In Motion (RIM) works closely with our carrier partners in South Africa and around the world to provide leading mobile services and communications for BlackBerry customers.
The BlackBerry solution continues to grow in popularity in many regions across the globe, especially South Africa where BlackBerry has been a leading smartphone vendor in South Africa for over 20 months and 7 devices out of the 10 best-selling smartphones are BlackBerry smartphones (GfK Retail and Technology, May 2012).
Our technology and services, combined with attractive, transparent service packages from our carrier partners, underpins our success in SA and other markets.
In all markets, carriers deliver service propositions that best serve their customers and can adapt those plans to suit BlackBerry users
Our carrier partners have detailed Terms & Conditions available on their websites that have further information on their respective BlackBerry propositions.
Vodacom said that their BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) gives customers on-device Internet browsing, e-mail, and social networking for a fixed monthly fee.
“In certain circumstances, some applications may incur data charges because they make use of a billable internet connection rather than the BIS connection,” said Vodacom.
“This is the choice of the application developer and with so many applications available and with new applications developed daily, it’s not possible for mobile operators to individually confirm how each application operates.”
“As such, in some instances customers can be billed for data charges incurred from non-RIM apps. This is not a billing issue – this is the way the BIS service works in South Africa and is by no means unique to Vodacom,” Vodacom said.