Circles.Life’s “Unlimited” WhatsApp Plan Has A Limit
A Facebook user recently ranted over the social media platform how unhappy he was when his mobile telco, Circles.Life, decided to charge him for exceeding his data usage on WhatsApp.
While it’s perfectly reasonable for telcos to charge their customers if they go over the limit, this case is slightly special.
You see, Mr Winston Ong didn’t sign up for just any other ordinary plan.
He was on a Circles.Life plan that included unlimited WhatsApp data usage, an undoubtedly attractive offer that can be summarised below:
Mr Winston Ong posted an angry spiel on his Facebook profile this week on a cheery e-mail sent to him from Circles.Life.
What it said boggled the mind:
In case the irony was missed, basically, Mr Ong was penalised for exceeding the limit on his unlimited plan which, by definition, shouldn’t have any limits in the first place.
Circles.Life bundles together its unlimited WhatsApp service with all their mobile plans. Referred to as “Unlimited WhatsApp Plus”, the deal allows users to “send unlimited, free of charge, text messages, video clips and photos via WhatsApp”.
However, perhaps unbeknownst to many, Circles.Life’s “unlimited plan” isn’t really “unlimited”.
Heck, the telco even explicitly states so in its terms and conditions, but unless you bother to scroll all the way down the 8,000-plus-words document, you probably wouldn’t notice the bolded paragraph that mentioned it.
Well, we did exactly that, and it turns out, their “unlimited WhatsApp service” only consists of a measly 1GB.
Once you exceed that limit, every additional GB used or part thereof is offset by your base plan’s bundle and might set you back by $6/GB if you’ve ran out of data.
According to Andoy, one of their customer service officers, such a failsafe was put in the place to prevent their generosity from being “being abused”.
Indeed, if people were to send over full-HD movie files or other large documents through their network, they’ll be waving goodbye to their profits.
We all know how painful it can be when our colleagues download large files over a shared Wi-Fi connection — imagine hundreds of people doing it at the same time.
Video Calling Feature Spoils Market
As per the e-mail sent to Mr Ong, the telco also cited the “recently released” video-calling feature on WhatsApp as one of the considerations for the implemented limit.
While most users are unable to burst their 1GB quota if they merely use WhatsApp to send messages or small image files — thus giving the illusion of an “unlimited” utopia — video calling will “greatly increase the chances of exceeding the 1GB/month limit stated in our Fair Usage Policy”.
MustShareNews checked with 5 Circles.Life users, none of them knew that video calls weren’t covered in the unlimited data offering, much less the hidden 1GB limit.
However, WhatsApp’s video calling function is certainly not “new” — it was launched all the way back in November 2016, giving the telco nearly 6 months to inform their customers or tweak their marketing accordingly so that they don’t tell people that it’s unlimited WhatsApp when it’s not.
While the excess data used could be offset by the quota bundled into the user’s base plan, you might still run into trouble with WhatsApp, as Circles.Life might, “without prior notification”, disrupt the experience of the application.
That’s not all. On a separate note, we also found out that if you use over 55GB of mobile data per month, the telco might “impose a speed limit” on all mobile services provided until the “end of the affected bill cycle”.
While the policies would not affect most Singaporeans who are casual users, heavy WhatsApp users and customers on an unlimited data plan might want to reconsider their “spending” habits.
While the telco probably thinks it’s being noble in warning its users of potential charges, it’s worrying that none of its users know about this policy in the first place.
While we understand the need to regulate network resources so as to not hinder the experiences of other customers, continuing to advertise their WhatsApp offering as “unlimited” is misleading.
We have reached out to their “Blackbelt Happiness Experts” to find out if they made a serious attempt to inform its customers about the latest changes, and will update this article once we receive a reply.
In the meantime, their terms and conditions also state that the telco “reserves the right to modify the scope of WhatsApp features covered by Unlimited WhatsApp Plus anytime without prior notice to the user“.