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Pay as you go 3g Broadband deals - the small print


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I've made a search here, and couldn't find any existing threads dealing with this specific question, but apologise if I've missed one and it's already been discussed/answered elsewhere.

Every few months I return to my ongoing "Holy Grail" quest for cheap mobile broadband for my particular needs, ie very "occasional" use, with varying amounts of data transfer. I use landline broadband 99% of the time, but need to be able to check email and/or view a handfull of websites maybe twice a day whilst staying on the boat.

I thought the new Vodafone "pay as you surf" package fitted the bill quite well, £35 for the USB modem including the first £15 topup for 1gb of data use. That would have suited me well, meaning the £15 would probably last about a year, and I find Vodafone has good coverage on the Broads (as mentioned on here, and as is my own experience with their pay as you go mobile service over the past few years).

I was about to take the plunge, then discovered something in the small print. I now understand that they apply a minimum charge of 50p per day for each day that it is used, so one quick email check of a few kbytes would cost 50p.

Has anyone experienced these charges, and does anyone know of any better broadband/3g price plans ? ( no contract, pay as you go, no time limit to use credit, and no minimum daily charge ?)

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Hi, I've got a voda payg dongle, mainly to use on the boat and it has'nt cost me 50p every time i go on, in fact i've had it over 4mths and used it quite a lot and only spent about £2 in total since i got it.

I would reccomend vodafone as its the only one you dont have to top up monthly.

Hope this helps you make up your mind.

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I have a prepay 3g dongle from 3 bought on ebay .You get the dongle and 12 months 12 gb for £82 I have used this for 6 months now and when I check I have only used 1/2 gb. I have not had to sign up to anything and no payment details given.

If anyone is interested here is the link.

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/3G-USB-DONGLE-MOD ... 286.c0.m14

Ok so not sure how you do that but now you have the item number.


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:grin: Same as Paul! I used mine over ten days on the boat, in total about four hours and I only use about 40p according to them, But heres something from the smallprint,, you will loose your credit if you don't use your account for 270 days; you can ask for your account credit to be re-activated if you don't use it for 180 days.


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I wonder if the 50p per day minimum usage cost applies once the original £15 credit has been used? I know the internet charges on the Vodafone mobile phone contract I have is a flat rate of £1 per day. If I use the phone to check the weather for a few seconds it costs me £1, but then I caould also download tons of stuff for just £1 if I wanted to.

Might be worth a trip to a Vodafone shop to get it ironed out.

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Thank you for the quick responses.

It looks as though I've missed the boat though. Where Paul & Lorna and Mowjo have said that they've used the Vodafone dongle quite a lot and haven't been charged the minimum of 50p per day whenever it is used, it seems as though that was only the case for new signups until May 1st 2009, when they changed the pay as you surf tarrif. Maybe as you signed up before then, your charging rates are preserved, but anyone signing up now would appear to only be offered the new conditions.

I did Google search for "Vodafone pay as you surf 50p" and there were many hits like this one http://forums.thinkbroadband.com/mobilebroadband/3601295-vodafone-potential-big-increase-in-data-costs.html

So it looks as though all of their 3g pay as you surf tarrifs now incur a 50p per day minimum charge for each day that they are used.

I looked up Mariotech's 3 dongle on eBay, but it looks as though after the initial 12 months you can only then revert to a "standard 3g prepay tarrif", which sounds like time limited monthly topups.

I've already suffered from the deactivtion that Mario mentioned, but on my Vodafone pay as you go phone. I carry it around always for emergencies, but rarely need to make an outgoing call. Earlier this year I was about 5 miles away from home on my motorbike when it broke down. When I tried to use the phone to call AA relay, I got the announcement "you have insufficient credit". I then dialled the Vodafone balance number, which told me I had "£8.50 remaining". I then tried to ring the voda operator, and again got the "insufficient credit" message. So I had to push the bike home. When I rang Voda from my land line, they said I hadn't made a chargeable call for 90 days, so the phone was "quarantined". They then put 5p credit on it for me, which de-quarantined it.

There was no warning that it had become "outgoing calls barred", and it had been used every two weeks or so for incoming calls. The Vodafone Operator said they Quarantine mobiles when no outgoing calls are made "as a precaution in case they have been stolen". I can't follow that logic at all. If someone stole the phone (and left the same sim in it), surely they would use it all up rather than make no calls ?

So the moral is, if you have Vodafone Pay as you go, make sure you make a chargeable call at least every 90 days, or the phone is useless to you in emergencies, (even though you will be totally unaware of it).

I took so long to type this out that the new post from Mbird came in before I could submit it. Yes, I think you may have something there. The original £15 credit had been prepaid before the change in conditions on May 1st, so they would presumably have to honour that, with no minimum daily charge whenever used, whereas any subsequent top ups now would be at the new charging rate. I tried typing my questions into Vodafone's online "contact us" link, only to be greeted with an error message from their site when I submitted it. Very sad, a huge International Company, and they can't run a simple Contact Us link.

edit: two typos (damn keyboard)

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Guest Stowager

Further Googling seems to confirm my doubts...

"I got a text on a Vodafone PAYG phone that pointed me here:- Vodafone Mobile Internet - 1st May 2009

It says that the pricing structure for mobile browsing will change on the 1st May, and in particular it says:-

QUOTE As you start a browsing session you will incur on a 50p charge

At the moment the Vodafone website says:-


If you use less than 0.5MB, you only pay for the pages you use."

This was lifted from Vodas own forum at http://forum.vodafone.co.uk/index.php?showtopic=20687 where they confirmed the 50p minimum "session" charge.

Blast ! I thought the time had finally arrived when I could have economic mobile access to the Internet, so it's now back to the hit and miss wifi hotspot hunting. :?

edit: I've just noticed my user name against this post is Stowager, rather than Strowager , as when I logged in this time my damn keyboard dropped the first R, as it did when I first enrolled here. Could admin please delete this ID "Stowager", as it was an error on my part, sorry.

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Hi Strowager

I'll pass on the ID deletion to the team (I'm not sure how to do it and don't want to screw up you account by mistake!). You may have see nthe WiFi hotspot thread in the Broads Related section. I'm trying to compile a list of all the WiFi hotspots around the broads, as I use my iPod touch for my emails etc when on the boat. If you come across any that aren't listed, please add them to the thread and I'll keep track of them.

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Hi Mark,

Thank you, sorry to cause extra work.

I'll certainly pass on any wifi hotspots I find that are not already listed.

3g would have been such a good universally available solution though, shame they went and changed the rules just before it got my interest. :(

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The admin should just be able to rename the account with the "r" where it should be. No need to delete the account completely and start again!


As I read it he already has re-registered under the correct name (strowager) as that is where his posts are showing up under,

and want's the miss-spelt one (stowager) deleted.


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Yes please, sorry again for the mixup.

When I first joined, I immediately noticed the missing 'R' and re-registered again straight away, and asked if the first one could be deleted.

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So as i understand it the Vodafone deal would have been a dongle and 1 gb which you could spread over a year for £50 but is no longer available. The 3g deal is a dongle and 12gb which you can spread over a year for £82 and then have it unlocked and buy a sim for what ever deal is around at the time or buy another 3g dongle and 12 gb deal. The same deal from vodafone would cost £215.

Had I seen the vodafone deal when I bought the one from 3. I would still have bought the one from 3 as with 12 times the data allowance I do not need to gb watch, and can surf the forum when on board. :naughty:

Jonathan :Stinky

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I see your logic Jonathan.

The 12gb of actual usage "as and when" spread over 12 months is pretty good for £82, (although I've only found it for £99 so far), still good.

If they offered (and it was subsequently still available when the time came), a 12 month top up only for £62, (which is without the cost of the dongle which appears to be £19.99 at the moment), then I'd maybe be tempted.

After further consideration, the Voda 1gb deal may still be the best for my circumstances. £35 to get started and then £15 after 30 individual days of actual usage with no expiry limit. As I say, I stay on the boat only occasionally, so could make sure I only start a "daily session" when I knew I would not be home that night. I know it makes me sound like a cheapskate :roll: , but that appears to be the only pay as you go 3g plan with no time limit at all, so I my very intermittent use would cause minimal wastage. Granted though, I'd have to watch the 1gb cap, which is far less than your 12gb.

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Well, I took the plunge, and bought the Vodafone 3g "pay as you surf" USB stick yesterday from Maplins.

They were selling them for £34.99, and I bought another item so was able to use my £3 discount voucher as well.

I logged in yesterday (although I could only get on via GPRS from home).

I've checked my balance online 24 hours later, which you can luckily do via a wifi connection as well, and I still have £14.95 credit, so have not been charged the 50p minimum daily access charge.

I'm thinking this is probably because I didn't manage to connect via 3g though. :?

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