Social media backlash after bmobile raises prepaid bundle rates

Photo: bmobile

bmobile, one of Trinidad and Tobago’s mobile networks, is in hot water after introducing new prepaid unlimited bundle plans at a much higher price point while discontinuing their cheaper alternatives.

Over a year ago, bmobile offered many options which allowed you to buy either voice or data, or both, with different pricing options for different budgets. Some of their more popular plans included 2GB (monthly) data for TT $149 before tax (TT $167.63 with tax) and 5GB (monthly) data for TT $199 before tax (TT $223.88 with tax).

With the introduction of LTE, they phased out many of those plans, forcing using to take new voice and data combos, which in my opinion still was not too bad. Their monthly prepaid plan would run you TT $215 before tax (TT $241.88 with vat) and included 3GB data, unlimited bmobile to bmobile calls, 4000 free SMS text messages, and 300 minutes which would be used between local and international calling.

There were a few complaints about the new option, but most people (including myself) accepted it as it was a decent enough trade off which cost a few extra dollars.

However, the mobile company decided to switch things up again a few days ago, upgrading a number of their product channels to include various “unlimited” features.

Prepaid users felt it the most after they were told that the TT $215 plan would be discontinued effective immediately in favour of unlimited voice and data options that could be purchased for a daily, weekly, or monthly time period (see below).

As with any provider, unlimited really is not unlimited. The company limits data usage to 20GB a month as part of their fair use policy. Unfortunately, unlike American telecoms, bmobile does not throttle users who cross the 20GB threshold, but rather charge them at a standard rate per GB beyond their plan.

Many customers were infuriated with the decision, because like me, they barely use more than 3-5GB a month, or may not make that many phone calls. As there are no longer any other legacy prepaid options, bmobile suggested that customer consider going postpaid.

However, switching to a monthly billing plan also means signing a two-year contract, which some felt uneasy about.

Many fans took to their Facebook page, expressing disapproval over the new plans, but the company offered no real solutions other than suggesting switching to a postpaid option, or using a weekly or daily plan if they couldn’t afford to pay the monthly option.

One Facebook user complained about the drastic price increases over the past year, saying:

I was paying 199 and it use to last me the month. Then it gone up to 215 not lasting the month. Now this? Price increase twice in less than a yr? Ah know this is a monopoly system between u and digicel but oh gosh man. Alyuh that wicked? I need to get some pigeons and train dem.

In response, bmobile suggested that the plans were put in place after an overwhelming demand for unlimited options, but did not address why their limited options were removed.

Thank you for taking time to share your concerns with us about our new, unlimited data plans giving you the option to surf, stream, chat, game, and shop online without worrying about overages or running out of data. We were answering the demand from customers who want unlimited data and matched that with our research on how customers use our services to come up with these new options.

Another user said:

Well played b mobile. …I’m no longer going to be fo[r]ced to buy what I don’t need… the $149 6 GB was what fit my pocket and usage. … then u punched me in the face with $215 half the data and 300 mins talk that I didn’t want nor ever used… so b mobile this $349.00 is the gun shot to my head… I done… take yuh oppressive nasty package and shove it….

bmobile offered no real explanation, saying that they would report the feedback to their management team.

Thanks for sharing your concerns, we would be sorry to see you go! We will share your feedback in our daily report to the team in charge of prepaid plans.

Scrolling through the comments in the different posts, it was clear that many subscribers were not happy with the new and limited choices. bmobile has yes to give a clear explanation as to why they no longer offer the flexibility they used to for its prepaid customers, saying that there is always the option to either go postpaid or buy a weekly or daily plan.

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