A number of Telkom customers have claimed that their mobile data bundles are being consumed in the wrong order.
This follows MyBroadband recently asking the mobile operator how its data depletion works after a customer complained that his transferred data was running out before his inclusive data.
In its response, Telkom said transferred data was considered to be part of its free, promotional, or campaign data category – and would be depleted before inclusive and top-up bundles.
In short, the depletion order was indicated as follows:
- Campaign, Bonus, Promotional Data (includes transferred data)
- Inclusive Data
- Recurring/Once-off data Bundles
Following the article, customers complained that the depletion of what they believed to be campaign data was paused once they received their inclusive data allocations at the start of their billing cycle.
According to their understanding of Telkom’s depletion order, these bundles should be consumed first, before inclusive data was used.
The affected customers were on 1GB FreeMe contracts and had purchased Telkom’s Mo’Nice bundles when they ran out of data in February.
These bundles form part of a Telkom campaign, as noted in the Mo’Nice Terms and Conditions. In this document, Telkom refers to Mo’Nice as a “promotion” which it can cancel at any time.
Customers have the option of several Mo’Nice bundles – including Telkom Mobile data bundles, Telkom Mobile call minutes, all-network minutes, Weekend Bundles, YouTube data, or WhatsApp data.
At the beginning of February, the first customer started consuming from his inclusive 1GB data bundle.
This data was depleted on 5 February, after which he purchased a Mo’Nice data bundle. This bundle then had 300MB remaining at the end of the month.
However, on 1 March the customer received a new allocation of inclusive data and consumption was paused on the Mo’Nice bundle while the inclusive bundle started to deplete.
A second customer had a similar experience.
At the start of February, the customer’s data was being consumed from a bundle which was transferred to them earlier. When this bundle was exhausted, the inclusive 1GB data began to deplete.
After running out of data on his inclusive bundle on 10 February, he purchased a Mo’Nice bundle which lasted for the rest of the month.
As was the case for the previous customer, once he received his inclusive data at the beginning of March, the depletion on the Mo’Nice bundle was paused.
The issue for both these customers was that the Mo’Nice bundles they purchased were only valid for 30 days and would have an earlier expiry date than the inclusive data they had received.
“This is basically last in, first out – which means my old data will expire unused while I’m using data that is only expiring on the 1st of May,” the first customer noted.
Telkom said it investigated both complaints and verified that data was depleted correctly, according to its order of consumption.
It stated that Telkom differentiates between two types of “campaign” data. According to the operator, its Mo’Nice bundles are called campaign bundles as part of an “advertising drive”.
However, this does not mean that Telkom regards them to be the same type of bundle as “campaign, promotional, or transferred data” – which are generally depleted first.
As Mo’Nice bundles are not free, they are considered to be top-up bundles and will therefore deplete after any inclusive data, Telkom said.
“These are paid-for bundles and the standard order of consumption will apply to these. They will only be used once the inclusive data has been depleted.”
Telkom then laid out the order of bundles consumed by the two customers for the period in question:
- Once-Off Weekend Data (time-based data) – Highest priority and will be consumed first, if on a weekend.
- Instant Messaging data (2GB for WhatsApp, BBM, Viber) – Additional data included in the FreeMe plans on top of normal all-network data.
- Transferred All Network data – Transferred included all-network data used before the inclusive plan’s all network data.
- Included All Network data – What the customer pays for and is referred to as the core data in the plan.
- Mo’Nice Data Bundle – Additional bundles that customers pay for if more data is required.
Understanding Telkom’s data consumption order
Telkom went on to note the differences between general, promotional, and campaign data.
“General data is the inclusive data which is bundled with your plan, eg FreeMe 1GB. A Telkom customer subscribes to this on a monthly basis and pays for the service on a monthly basis,” the operator said.
Promotional data bundles are additional data allocations on certain plans – for example, IM data, Night Surfer, and LIT streaming data.
“These only have a validity period of one calendar month and are not transferable. This is additional data that Telkom offers on some plans.”
Campaign data can be a top-up purchase – as in the case of these customers – in which case it would only be consumed after inclusive data. However, if it is a free allocation, it is handled in the same way as promotional data.
Examples of free campaign data which would deplete first include data that is gifted to a customer, such as when Telkom experiences a network outage and decides to compensate customers with a once-off data bundle.
“These have a specified period in which they must be used, are not transferable, and have a higher priority than inclusive data or a purchased data bundle,” Telkom said.