Thursday, 11 July 2013


As you know, I hate TV adverts, and when one just offered me some phone and pad "FREE! for just £25 a month" I just have to cringe.

How long before the local shop are selling a mars bar "Free for just 50p".

It is not FREE if you are paying money FFS. When will people stop lying on TV!


  1. Some languages and laws are very precise about "free" vs "inclusive". an offer for something "free" should have no conditions, and in some places that distinction is proven in law.

  2. Much like the car finance ads offering a car for "just £30"!.. Obviously they don't mention this is per month, or how many months you make these payments for. :)

    I'm hoping the "free" phone mobile contract model eventually goes the way of the dinosaur. Most people don't particularly want an upgrade, but they get one "free" because its offered, rather than realising they could reduce their phone bill by not upgrading and switching to a tariff that doesn't include the phone subsidy.

    My fiancée lost her iPhone 3G a bit under 2 years ago and when I looked for replacement phones she pointed out that she was happy with her phone and would be happy just getting another iPhone 3G. Of course, Apple had long since stopped making them, and on the second hand market they seemed to be going for £700 (which was more than a brand new iPhone 4 at the time), so she ended up getting a Nexus S for about half the price of an iPhone 4. Point being - people are often happy with what they've been using for a few years and wouldn't bother upgrading if it wasn't given to them "for free" - its bad for their wallets and bad for the environment. (OTOH, she seems to have a very destructive ability when it comes to phones so maybe I should've suggested a Sonim.. So far there's been a cracked screen on an iPhone, replaced on insurance, cracked again, lost, cracked screen on the Nexus S, drowned the Nexus S a couple of times, cracked the screen again... :)

    Personally, I've bought my last 2 phones outright and put a Three PAYG SIM in... And Three's new tariff seems to be excellent (1p/MB, 2p/SMS, 3p/minute... which works out at something like 0.2p/minute for SIP :)

  3. It also bothers me that the phone is described as "free" with the contract.
    Could they simply decide not to give you the phone once you've signed the 2 year contract and you've not suffered any loss as you've agreed the value is nothing.

  4. It is irritating; it was "Freeserve" that really irked me in the early days, in so many ways: from people thinking it was actually somehow "free" racking up huge phone bills, people mistaking it for better value than paying a proper subscription directly (and their corporate waffle and evasion about being paid for through their 0845 call revenue didn't help)...

    A few countries (Finland being one, I think?) have an outright ban on this. You can buy a phone, you can sign up for a two year contract - but the two can't be tied: in effect, all phones there are sim-free and unlocked, all service plans are sim-only. "£25/month over two years for the phone, plus £6/month for the airtime" is the same total cost as "£31/month for a 'free' phone", but SO much more honest - of course, it would probably cut into handset sales a bit, and we can't have that!

    1. @jas88 - surely though the difference was that before Freeserve the model was generally monthly fee AND still call charges (generally a "local" call but not generally "free" as in "Freephone"). So not much really changed. If you used less than the difference between local call and the lo-call 0845 vs the sub cost, you were better off.

      It all still sucks in general.

    2. True - "free"serve's dishonest name was bad in itself, but I spent a while baffled at the obstinacy of existing ISPs trying to differentiate themselves for a while, charging the same per minute (still 0845) but with a subscription as well, until a few (starting with Claranet I think?) finally figured out how to stop taking a per-minute cut of call charges and offer better value.

      Of course, all the extra call charge revenue gave both BT and the cable companies which are now Virgin a hefty reason to delay broadband as long as possible - and I suppose as long as Demon and co could rely on subscriber inertia and/or snobbery, they could milk growing 0845 profits as well as having subscriber revenue, rather than bother to compete!

      Vodafone manage to take it one step further in an ad I saw this morning: a BlackBerry handset which is "free and half price for three months". So, you pay a smaller nothing for the first 3 months than later on? Stupidly, they don't even mention what price is being halved.

    3. At one point, 0845 numbers *were* charged at local geographic rates, so this was good for customers since the ISP just needed a single number instead of a different vPOP per region in order to keep the call charges down to local rates.

      Also, I was on Demon until around 2002, and as far as I remember they always had several geographic vPOPs as well as the 0845 number (I used to dial into one of them from my mobile phone, using circuit switched data - at the time geographic numbers were included in my inclusive minutes whereas 0845s weren't). I'm not sure there was a lot of unjustified snobbery anyway - until they were bought by Thus, Demon *were* a very clueful ISP and I was happy to pay over the odds for that clue (much as A&A customers are happy to pay a bit more for clue). (Of course, once they were bought up by a big corporation, customer service went down the pan as the policy seemed to change to "don't let customers ever know if we make a mistake", which led to me doing a lot of debugging my own equipment when the problems were actually at there end).

  5. Just like this one I found in Birmingham recently
    Fit for free! Only £15.95 a month.