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Don’t Bodoh: Be careful with U Mobile’s “free calls” claim on its new plan

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A week ago, U Mobile had launched its new #GetClever prepaid and postplan plans that promise to give better value. It challenges its competitors with generous data quota, cheaper call rates and free 30 minutes of calls everyday within U Mobile’s network. For 2015, U Mobile says that they want to give customers the best value, be a challenger telco and most importantly be transparent to its customers.

It was brought to our attention, that the free calls offer isn’t as clear cut as it seems. If you’re going to make a lot of calls, there’s something you should know before signing up.

Free Calls within U Mobile, 30 minutes per day

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Let’s take a look at one of their plans, like this one, the P70 Postpaid which offers 4.5GB of internet with 70 minutes of calls per month and FREE 30 minutes of calls per day within U Mobile network. On the surface, it looks like you have 70 minutes to call non-U Mobile numbers (Maxis, DiGi, Celcom, TuneTalk, local fixed lines) and pay absolutely nothing for calls within U Mobile, provided if you don’t use more than 30 minutes per day.

Need more clarification? Let’s look at the FAQ and T&C.

Under the FAQ:

How do I enjoy free calls?
U Mobile is giving 30 min (U Mobile to U Mobile calls) for FREE – EVERY day for the NEW postpaid plan.

If you’re still unconvinced, even the P50 and P70 postpaid schedule table from the T&C clearly separates the Free 30 mins/day for ON-NET (within U Mobile) and the respective 50 or 70 mins/month specifically for OFF-NET (to non-U Mobile numbers) use.

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Free. But not the way it should be

However it appears that several people (us included) were caught unaware on how U Mobile’s free calls actually works. Despite the clarity in the FAQ and the clear differentiation between on-net and off-net calls in the T&C, there’s a little catch on how the free calls within U Mobile are being utilised.

Apparently, the free calls to U Mobile numbers will be utilising your OFF-NET calls FIRST before the actual Free 30 minutes/day offer kicks in. So this means, if you’re on P70 and if you’ve made 10 minutes of calls to U Mobile numbers for 7 days straight (10 minutes x 7 = 70 minutes), you won’t have any OFF-NET quota left to call other numbers.

At first, we thought maybe this is just an internal billing issue so we’ve reached out to U Mobile for clarification and have received the following response:

As the bundled call minutes are for all network, which includes U Mobile, call minutes will be deducted from the bundled call allocation first, which in the reader’s case, 70 minutes bandwidth. Upon exhausting his quota, subsequent on-net calls will be deducted from the free on-net entitlement (free 30 minutes daily). This has always been the charging precedence U Mobile applies ever since they started offering the Free Calls proposition.

So there’s no such thing as an OFF-NET and ON-NET buckets. To make it simpler, there’s only 70 minutes of free calls to ALL numbers. The free 30 minutes of calls to U Mobile only kicks in only after you’ve finished up your monthly call quota. It is also the same story for Prepaid as well.

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Technically U Mobile is still right to say they are giving 30 minutes free voice calls within U Mobile but what we don’t like is how it utilises your Off Net calls, which you as the consumer could save up and potentially carry forward to the next month. If you intend to make lots of free calls, you can probably forget about its “carry forward up to 2X of your talktime to the following month” feature, as you probably could have finished them all on calls within U Mobile.

Most Malaysians have a distrust of telcos especially when there’s a stigma of being scammed or overcharged for something they didn’t use. We expected much more from U Mobile especially with their promise to be more transparent with greater customer focus. If the ON-NET calls aren’t entirely FREE (not by utilising from another free bucket), U Mobile could have communicated this better upfront to avoid misleading its potential subscribers. We’ve made a call to U Mobile’s customer service at +6018 388 1318 and it appears that the reps are not really aware of such conditions.

If you’re a subscriber of these new #GetClever plans, tell us what you think? And whether if you’re made aware of such terms before signing up.