Just what exactly is the O2 data limit?

We're going to give you a cake, but you can eat only a certain undefined amount, and if you eat more than that, we'll fine you -- confused? You should be, this is about O2 data allowances

Ian Morris
2 min read

If we said to you, "Here's a cake. Eat as much as you want, but don't exceed our fair-eating policy," what would you say? It's most likely you'd reply, "Sweet! But how much am I allowed to eat under the 'fair eating' policy?" A reasonable question indeed, because how can you eat within the limit if we don't tell you what the limit is? Well, sadly for you, our answer is going to be silence. And that's the most convoluted metaphor for the O2 data limit we could come up with on short notice.

This issue has come to our attention because one Craver has encountered a soft data limit on his 'unlimited' data tarriff. Fair-use limits are in place on practically every type of Internet connection you can name. They're a cunning way for connectivity providers to promise with one hand, while smacking you in the reproductive organs with the other.

The promise of 'unlimited data' is usually enough to attract customers who think, "Oooh, unlimited, I'll never use all of unlimited, no matter how hard I try." Sadly for them, this doesn't suit the service providers, who've under-invested in their data networks and want to stop people from using their mobile phones in the way they were intended.

O2 has made even more of a botch of this than other networks, because not only does it have a fair-use policy, it refuses to clearly state what it is. Trawling through the terms and conditions on its site is no use. There's no point at which a new customer is told, "You'll be allowed to use X amount of data per month." It's all a guessing game, and one that could end in serious expense if O2 uses the contract to its full extent to charge customers for over-use.

We've made complaints to the ASA about this in the past, because Crave does not believe the marketing term 'unlimited' should be permitted when the services offered under that name are not, as the dictionary defines it, "free of limits and restrictions". Sadly, the ASA doesn't agree with us, and refused to censure Vodafone for mis-using the word because it apparently made it clear that unlimited doesn't mean unlimited. O2, on the other hand, doesn't make anything about its data bundle clear, so where does that leave consumers?

Confused, that's where.