This, paired with the prevalence of WASP subscriptions and other entrapments, has left a number of mobile users feeling frustrated with their mobile operators.
While many reports of “disappearing data” can be attributed to poor data usage monitoring and the installation of data-hungry applications, there are systems in place on mobile networks over which consumers are frustrated.
One of these is Vodacom’s data depletion policy, and the order in which data bundles are depleted
We sought clarification from Vodacom on the matter.
Data depletion complaint
A MyBroadband reader sent a complaint to MyBroadband regarding the data bundle depletion on his contract packages.
The customer has two active SIMs on Smart XS postpaid packages, which each received 75 minutes, 75 SMSs, and 200MB of data every month.
However, the customer noticed that while his data rolled over for one month after he received it, his newer data bundles were being depleted first instead of his rolled-over data.
This meant that his rolled-over data would automatically expire unless he depleted both his new 200MB bundle and the remainder of the rolled-over data.
The same was true for his voice minutes and SMSs, meaning that he could not take advantage of his rolled-over talk time and SMSs until he had depleted the new month’s allocation.
To determine whether the billing system is set up this way intentionally, MyBroadband reached out to Vodacom for comment.
Response and regulations
MyBroadband asked Vodacom whether this behaviour was standard, and why it has implemented its billing system in this way.
Vodacom confirmed that this is how its depletion system works, and that it applies to all of its packages.
“Vodacom data and airtime bundles follow what we call a “Last In, First Out” (LIFO) order of consumption,” a Vodacom spokesperson said.
“The last bundle to be purchased, activated and/or allocated will be the first bundle to be consumed and then any other available bundle will follow in that chronological order.”
Vodacom did not give a reason for why this policy is implemented over older bundles being depleted first, only stating that it was the system in place and stated it is made public in the terms and conditions on its website.
It is important to note that while Vodacom currently uses this depletion system, it may need to change in the near future.
ICASA’s End-User and Subscriber Service Charter regulations are set to be implemented by 28 February 2019, bringing major changes to the way mobile operators manage data bundles.
These regulations will require mobile operators to offer customers the option to roll-over unused data, but they also stated that data must be consumed in the order it is purchased.