Here’s a blog entry about something that leaves me quite speechless: A couple of months ago, Orange France started to offer mobile Internet access via their prepaid Mobicarte SIMs. For 9 euros a month, Orange says they grant full access to the Internet (no, not the Web, the Internet!) from mobile phones with their Internet Max offer. The fine print says may limit the speed after 500 MB a month. Further they say that eMail via SMTP, IMAP and POP3 is limited to 10 MB per month. And finally they say that VoIP, Peer to Peer and Newsgroups are not allowed. Tethering to PCs is also not allowed and will be billed separately. No word about how much is charged separately or what happens after the 10 MB per month eMail limitation.
So I activated the option on my prepaid SIM and have used it for a couple of weeks now. As per the description, all the services I use on my mobile phone such as web browsing with OperaMini, the default web browser, eMail (POP3 and SMTP), A-GPS ephemeris lookup, etc. work well.
Then recently, I discovered that every now and then my prepaid account seems to leak a few cents. But why? After experimenting a bit I found out that every time I send an eMail via SMTP some cents vanish. To verify I repeatedly sent eMails over the course of several days, deactivated and activated TLS encryption, but each time the result was the same. Sending an eMail with a 200 kb file attachment resulted in a charge of 3.50 euros!!!? Did I pass that 10 MB boundary? Unlikely, since I only sent and received few eMails from activation time until I first noticed the behavior. And even if that is the reason, why did the system not send an SMS to warn me? It can bill me but it can’t send me a warning?
This sort of service behavior is one of the reasons that keep users from using the Internet on their phones. Imagine I had used a post paid SIM with the offer and would only have discovered this behavior a month later.
Hello dear readers at Orange France! If you read this and have any idea why this is happening I’d be very interested to hear from you. Or maybe this is an issue of the billing system? In that case I am sure there is someone who could fix it. Could I also get reimbursed please?