Freelance consultant for digital heritage

3’s Internet Max add-on and the brick wall

I’m 12 months into an 18 month contract with mobile operator 3 here in the UK, and until now, I’ve been very happy with the service that they have provided.

But there’s been a bit of a hiccup. Yesterday evening, I received a text message stating that I had reached my “allowance under the 3 Fair Use Policy” which for the Internet Max addon, is 1GB/month. 

3 reach fair use allowance

Since this arrived on the 20th November (and my billing cycle is the 14th), this means I’ve used 1GB in just 6 days on my phone. I don’t use it that much! So I checked the log on my E71:

E71 data use

So I used 84MB, in the last 30 days, according to my phone. This is a long way from 1GB. It appears then, that 3 have made a mistake. Or my data logger doesn’t work properly.

So today, I called 3 Customer Services via my handset. I spoke to a representative called Sarah, who explained to me that I had reached my allowance, and that I could not use the internet on my handset until 14th December. That’s a long way off! I explained, carefully and calmly, that the data logger on my phone showed that I had use a lot less, and that in fact, I hadn’t used data on the phone much since the last billing cycle. This got me nowhere. She confirmed my details, and checked to see what phone I was using on their system. They seemed to think I was still using my Skypephone, despite me updating my account via My3 to reflect that I now use a Nokia E71 back in September. She then put me on hold to confirm that the E71 did in fact have the capability to log data usage.

I explained roughly how much I had used, according to the phone, and the fact that these figures were for the last 30 days. She asked my how many “MB” were in a “GB” and I explained – 1024MB = 1GB. Less than 90MB was a long way from 1GB.

This also, got me nowhere. I requested that she check my exact data usage, and was told that they have no way of checking exact usage when using the Internet Max add-on. It was all automated, and if I got a text saying that I had reached my allowance, then it must be so. 

She offered to remove the Internet Max addon, and I could continue to access the internet on my phone by paying £2/MB. I carefully explained that this was not acceptable as it was very expensive, hence me paying for the add-on. Quite resilient to any form of complaint, I was essentially told I would have to wait until my bill arrived, mid-December, to find out the exact use, and there was nothing more that they can do.

I asked if there was anyone else I could talk to as I did not find it acceptable to be cut off from the Internet, when as far as I am concerned, 3 have made a mistake. I, the customer, should not be penalised for a mistake made by the company providing a service that I pay for. Of course, it was like talking to a brick wall, and all very frustrating.

Let’s hope I can find another way to get in touch with someone at 3 and resolve it – the 14th of December is a long way away!


16 responses to “3’s Internet Max add-on and the brick wall”

  1. Carl Webb avatar
    Carl Webb

    Typical “3” response… I’ve had a similar stone wall when discussing data usage and upgrading….!! When trying to upgrade to the E71, 3 (somewhere in india I assume) said I could upgrade in contract at a cost of £255…!!

    Went to the 3 shop and bought the handset for £199…!!

  2. I had this exact problem yesterday – 27/11/2008. I am also using an e71, maybe theres a problem with that? I’m on x-series silver though which gives the same 1gb fair usage and by my data record on the e71 it says I have used up about 100MB not 1GB. I see that you were also around 100MB’s, maybe the system is making a mistake thinking 100MB’s is 1GB.

    Anyway I rang them and I got the same sort of reply. I have continued using some data and I have not been charged yet though. I know this problem did occur for some people in may and 3 were wrong then.

  3. James Heather avatar
    James Heather

    This is amazing–I also had the same thing on 21 Nov. They claimed I’d used my 1GB after two days of usage!

    The spooky thing is that I’m also using an E71.

    I didn’t get anywhere with the debate. The text had told me I couldn’t use the internet until 19 Dec. But they confirmed that if I carried on, I’d be cut off till 19 Dec, rather than charged for the extra data, so I’ve carried on using it, and I’m still going… all still working happily…

    Does everyone else’s ‘check my usage’ page on say ‘Sorry, there is no usage data for this mobile’?

  4. Thanks for your comments, folks!

    I’m glad that I’m not alone with this issue.

    James – my account also says ‘Sorry, there is no usage data for this mobile’ – not very helpful if we want to make sure we don’t exceed the ‘fair use’ limit. I hope Three sort this out…



  5. I’ve had exactly the same problem, although I’m not using a E71. I’ve received the dreaded text message round about Nov 19th, and was disconnected from the data service a couple of days later. I called and complained and was given the same spiel – and when I asked for an itemised record of how I’d used the data, was told that that wasn’t available.

    I’ve just received the same text message this evening – all of six days into my new billing month. So I’ve checked last month’s bill, and lo and behold I only used 84MB. So tomorrow I’ll be having a nice long conversation with them!

  6. A Different Chris avatar
    A Different Chris

    Have any of you got this problem sorted out in the end? I’ve been thinking of switching to 3, but find this all rather discouraging.

  7. Thanks for you comment, Chris.

    I’ve just checked my bill, and I used just 15MB, which is quite a fair way from 1GB! Luckily there were no extra charges.

    I still haven’t been able to get an explanation from Three as to why those messages were sent out or any kind of apology. Thankfully they didn’t cut off my internet access, so I just carried on using it, all ready for some kind of battle come billing time.

    They do need to sort out their customer services. But from what I’ve heard and experienced myself, all mobile operators are renowned for ghastly customer service…

    Maybe one day we’ll be able to speak to people who really can help in more complex matters like this!

  8. I had the same text today for the 1GB Internet Max product

    I could not work our how I had used 1GB. After a lengthy phonecall with some dodgy reasons given to me I think I worked it out for my case.

    I use an E71 and it looks like the Packet Counter does not count everything properly, possibly a bug in the firmware. The Log seems fine though. In my case I think I ran up a lot using RealPlayer thinking it was using my WIFI network but it was actually using ‘3’.

  9. hi bought the e71 today on a 20 pound a month contract supposedly get unlimited internet an texts an email but r they now going to say we can only use 1 gb a month slightly worried now looking at these comments.

    1. I think that it’s about time that the use of the word “unlimited” was tightened up. 3 should set an example, and call their current “unlimited” offers, “1GB offers”. It’s time for mobile operators to become more honest, open and transparent.

  10. Had an e71 for one day on 3.

    d/l of 10mb so far [1st day excitement……] but what I have found strange is on the My3 page it says I curently owe £1.64 above my monthly rate [which is the £20 unlimited, as sc above]

    See how it goes.


    Coming from wm6 to S60 sort of like it but strange things like not being able to find alarm function is annoying me [time to read manual I think]

  11. I have got free internet add on which is 512MB per month free. I have never gone over the limit. I wanted to use Email on 3 which pushes all your email from any account on to your mobile phone. Once I downloaded the application, it wouldnt let me sign in. I telephoned Customer Services and the lady told me to make email on 3 work I will have to cancel the free internet add-on and purchase internet max add-on for £5 a month. I have never had a problem with the internet, I use a Nokia 6220 Classic which is a superb phone. She said the internet will be activated in 48 hours, so I am now waiting. Three Customer Services are very helpful, and always listen to you.

  12. ive just got the internet max add on, before u buy it, i dont know if any1 has noticed but it says that there is aan ulimited data usage.
    what does this mean if you only get 1gb download,
    am also plugging my phone into my pc an using my phone as a modem. do i just get 1gb download. i beleived it was unlimited with the way they word things. its wrong. 1gb wont last me long. lol

    1. It’s criminal that advertisers can use the word “Unlimited” when what they are offering clearly isn’t. But they are allowed to in the UK for some bizarre reason. The limit definitely is 1GB, and if you read the small print, it’s 1GB of data on your phone, and tethering to a PC isn’t allowed (even though it works). I’m not sure they’ll notice but if they do you could get stung by a big bill…

  13. I am having a really difficult time with 3’s customer service. I had the same problem that Carl Webb experienced. Furthermore, when I puchased the add on of Internet Max through “My 3″ online account, it clearly stated it was a “unlimited web surf”. But it turned out to have 1gb only! There wasn’t even any terms@conditions linking to the Add-on description to say it is actually 1gb. Nowadays 1gb would only allow you to use email and won’t last long at all if you use mobile to view online pictures, watch some TV news footages, youtube etc. But this is what people need a smart phone for nowadays, we don’t just use internet fr sening messages. 3 is driving me crazy with its crafty ad. description that deliberately misleads its customers. I am going to make a complaint to my local trading standards and OfCom about this.

  14. I live in the DT1 area, and as you can see from three’s coverage checker, the 3G is less than brilliant (In fact the coverage map exaggerates a lot) I am mostly roaming on Orange’s GPRS network, but now, 6 months after I have signed up for the Internet max add on I’m removing it. This summer, speeds have been intolerably slow and I keep getting the error ‘Cannot connect: Try again later’ whenever I press a link. There is a specific ‘spot’ a few hundred meters down the road where I can get 2 bars of 3G. When I do it is tolerably fast, you can watch YouTube, but every now and then the signal goes and you have to select the network manually. I just want a network that I can rely on to get a good signal. So that I don’t have to hold the phone above my head just to get a bar and receive a text. I have turned into a paranoid freak, maybe a might have a signal, but definitely I will not. This is in a town with 30,000 people, 5 schools, a major hospital, countless tourist attractions. Please Three! If you are actually listening, then can you give me some basic service? PLEASE!