Beware 30-day recurring bundles

The validity period of your recurring mobile data bundle could be dramatically impacted depending on when you decide to activate it, one MyBroadband forum member recently highlighted.

As most South African mobile operators have done, Vodacom ran a promotion on recurring pre-paid data bundles between August 2012 and February 2013.

Subscribers were able to buy a 12-month recurring bundle from Vodacom up-front: 1GB x 12 months for R1,199 and 2GB x 12 months for R1,999.

After extending the promotion, Vodacom went on to cut the price of the bundles in October to R999 for the 12GB bundle and R1,499 for the 24GB bundle.

In the details of the deal, Vodacom explained that bundles are allocated every 30 days. Similar to its other bundles, Vodacom also lets data roll over to the end of the following month.

It is this combination of “30-days” and “end-of-month” clauses in the business rules that could make for a confusing experience until you sit down and analyse what’s happening.

Firstly, with bundles being allocated every 30 days, it is possible for two bundles to be allocated in the same month: on the 1st and 31st.

This causes a knock-on effect which effectively shortens how long subsequent monthly bundles are valid for, and more importantly, when your last bundle is allocated.

For example, the longest overall validity period of 699 days could have been achieved by activating on 5 August 2012. However, if you activated on 31 August 2012 you would only get 387 days of validity overall.

It should be noted that this measure of “overall validity” is not how long you would be given access, but rather the sum of the validity periods of the 12 individual bundles that are allocated as part of this package.

The graph below shows how the overall validity and access period compare over the time that Vodacom’s 12GB and 24GB promotions were available.

30 day recurring bundle with end of following month expiry overall validity and access period graph
30 day recurring bundle with end of following month expiry overall validity and access period graph

Cell C, Telkom avoid problem

It’s interesting to note that Cell C and Telkom Mobile avoid this type of confusion by simply not letting data roll over on their recurring bundles.

Like Vodacom, Cell C has elected to allocate its recurring data bundles every 30 days but does not offer roll-over. When the new bundle is allocated, Cell C’s business rules state that it overrides the previous bundle.

Telkom Mobile’s Internet starter pack offers 200MB of data per month, allocated on the 1st of every month.

This means that although Vodacom’s method can be somewhat confusing, it does offer a longer overall period of bundle validity compared to other offerings, even if you activated a pre-paid “Pay Once” bundle on a sub-optimal date.

That said, mobile data bundle buyers would do well to go through the finer details of the business rules of their operator of choice if they want to extract maximum value from a deal.

Original forum thread: Last month’s data didn’t carry over!

Thanks to Hades for sending this in

Update: The article has been updated to more clearly explain the measurement used.

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Beware 30-day recurring bundles