Thursday 27 January 2011

Tesco Mobile's hidden fair use policy

I previously blogged about T-Mobile's silly fair use policy, but at least they make it clear what the data limit is. Tesco Mobile, on the other hand, seem to be intent on hiding their fair use limit from pay as you go customers.

Nine months ago, I regrettably bought a mobile phone locked to the Tesco Mobile network. I had looked around their website ( and decided that their Pay as you go tariff was good value if all I ever wanted to do was access the internet with no risk of hidden fees (they offer a 7-day "Unlimited Browsing" pass for £2). I had a jolly good browse around the site, but there was absolutely no quantification of a fair use limit. As the pass was labelled "unlimited", I naturally assumed that if there was a fair use limit, it would be reasonably high, or at least in line with other mobile networks.

Just a couple of days later, a friend of mine with an incredibly old web browser pointed out something I had missed: Tesco's website says there is a rather paltry fair use limit of only 100Mb per week. How did I miss that?!

Well, I hadn't missed it – sort of. The fault lies in the Tesco Mobile website, which apparently only works properly in Internet explorer 6. That's quite remarkable given that it's now the year 2011.

So what's actually wrong with their website? There is only one page which states what the fair use limit is (100mb), and this piece of text is not visible in any modern web browser software.

The following screenshot from Firefox 3.6.13 shows the text box in which the 100mb limit is stated; however, it is impossible to scroll down far enough to read it! The design of this web page is faulty, and overlays the bottom navigation bar on top of the final paragraph, making it practically invisible:

This is not just a Firefox rendering issue – the same problem occurs in any vaguely recent version of Internet Explorer, Opera, Chrome and Safari. In fact, the only browser I could view the relevant text in was Internet Explorer 6 (which was released 10 years ago!).

Alternatively, you can view the HTML source, but it's hardly reasonable to expect a customer to do that:

Searching their website for "100mb" confirms that this is the only page the limit is mentioned on (for Pay as you go customers); yet it is completely hidden from anyone who isn't running 10 year old software.

What I find really unfair is that Tesco have refused to fix this problem with their website, which has continued to hide the 100Mb fair use limit for at least 9 months. If I had known about this low limit, I would never have bought a phone from them. I made that clear to Tesco, yet they still refuse to fix it.

I have informed Tesco exactly what the problem is on numerous occasions. They have either insisted that nothing is wrong, or have point blank refused to respond to me.

One lady even accused me of lying when I said the 100Mb fair use limit was not visible on their website. "I can see it here in front of me in black and white," she said, refusing to believe anything I was saying. I did wonder whether they, too, were living in the past with Internet Explorer 6, but sadly she did not understand what a web browser was, let alone what version it was.

It was clear that nobody was going to fix the problem, so I thought I'd head straight to the top and ask the CEO to get it fixed. Surely the CEO will care about other customers being misled by the hidden fair use limits?

Apparently not: I asked the CEO of Tesco, Sir Terry Leahy, why the website has not been fixed. This particular question has never been answered. I even asked him to at least acknowledge that their website is broken, but this too has been avoided in any responses. Tesco have refused to answer either of those two questions, so I can only assume they are hiding the fair use limit on purpose.

I believe it is dishonest for Tesco to act this way. They are knowingly refusing to fix their website, seemingly happy for some other sucker to be misled the same way I was.

As they still refuse to fix the site, and seem happy to continue hiding the fair use limit from online customers, I told Sir Terry that I was going to write an article about it. I did, of course, ask him if he had any comments before I published, but the only response I got was, "I would like to confirm that we have nothing further to add."

I suppose when it comes to generating revenue by misleading prospective customers, "every little helps".


  1. Some more Hidden on Tesco Mobile in Mozilla Firefox 3.6.13(Terms apply & Find out about important tariff changes for pay you as go

    Mozilla Firefox 3.6.13

    IE 8

  2. Thanks, Anonymous. That's particularly outrageous having a hidden "Terms apply" link!

  3. I think a complaint to trading standards is in order here...

  4. I have been complaining to Tescos about the £2 internet bundle as nowhere on the page giving details about it does it state that it can not be used abroad nor does it refer or link to terms and conditions so you can see that it is valid for UK only. The information page is misleading and not complete. I have had a number of issues with Tesco mobile - the customer service is a joke and am looking to see if I can find an operator that gives the full picture.

  5. Tesco mobile withdrawing there Unlimited browsing pass for 500MB £5 or 1gb £7.50 per month.

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