The feel-good spirit of the dolphins hasn’t percolated as far as Vodafone’s billing departments, that’s for sure. You know the three biggest myths of telecommunications: the further the distance the call, the more expensive it is; text messages really do cost telcos more than tuppence ha’penny a thousand; and Oftel has more teeth than an octogenarian squid. Vodafone neatly demonstrated the last of these by using the first two to justify doubling the cost of text messages abroad from 12p to 24p. This despite a near constant refrain from the chorus of UK and European regulators saying that international mobile comms are hideously overcharged.
Mind you, I’m sensitive to this – my mobile phone bill from two weeks in Sweden was more expensive than the plane ticket. For six calls. Meanwhile, in the US, I hear that T-Mobile (my operator) is busy selling Wi-Fi access at hot spots for a mere dollar a minute. Assuming $30 a month for DSL access, and $100 for the wireless access point, that means the installation pays for itself in two hours of use and half an hour a month thereafter. Everything else is sheer profit. That must look spectacular on someone’s business plan, no matter what numbers you plug in for actual users – until that number tends to zero.
We’re currently running our first awards here – see www.cnet.co.uk/awards --- and your nominations are welcome. Me, I’m lobbying for The Most Arrogant Pricing Plan That Shafts Users -- Just Because We Can award for telcos. But I suspect there’ll be some stiff competition.
Bad Joke department: when shown an Internet-enabled hand dryer, our intrepid reporter asked “Does it use SOAP?”. “No,” said the non-plussed PR, “You use it after you’ve washed your hands.”