Vodafone is handing out unlimited mobile data for half a million customers on its Pay Monthly plans to help people keep in touch via video call apps like FaceTime, WhatsApp and HouseParty. Customers not already paying for an unlimited data plan will be able to access the offer through the VeryMe rewards scheme available in their My Vodafone App on iOS and Android right now. And that’s not all, Vodafone has already started to proactively upgrade Pay Monthly customers who are flagged as “vulnerable” in its systems. These people, who are at an increased risk from the novel coronavirus pandemic gripping the UK, will get 30 days of unlimited 4G data on their smartphone automatically.
The offer will initially be made available to some 500,000 customers. However, Vodafone says that it will be monitoring network usage and, should its cellular network allow for it, it will increase the offer to even more customers. Any Pay Monthly customer – including consumers and small businesses – registered with VeryMe app can apply right now.
Speaking about the free data offer, Vodafone Chief Executive Officer Nick Jeffery said: “Our role in these difficult and worrying times is to keep the UK connected, even while we have to stay apart. We are offering 30 days of unlimited free data to our most vulnerable customers and the first 500,000 customers to sign up, to help ease any worries about running out of data or incurring additional charges.
“If our network capacity allows, we would love to be able to offer this to even more customers and will be monitoring the feasibility of this. In short, if we have more to give, we will. This is one of a series of measures that we are taking to help. We have already expanded our networks, given our customers free access to NHS online services and reduced the time it takes to pay small suppliers.”
The latest move follows a number of other measures introduced by Vodafone to help its customers through the COVID-19 crisis.
According to Vodafone, “maintaining the reliability and capacity of our network is our number one priority during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak”. That’s likely to be extremely reassuring to customers worried about their ability to contact loved ones as more and more people stay at home and work from home – adding more pressure to the broadband and mobile networks.
As for why Vodafone is so confident that it will be able to maintain its service through the increased demand, the network has offered some information about recent improvements.
It states: “We’ve added extra capacity to our broadband and mobile networks to put them in the best possible position to cope with any extra demand as more people work from home. That, along with the billions we’ve invested in the last five years, means that they’re strong and robust. We’ve made them the best they can be and as reliable as possible for you.”
Just like Three and EE, Vodafone is allowing customers to access health information free of charge.
All Vodafone mobile customers – regardless of their payment plan or whether they’ve got any remaining data allowance for the month – will be able to access certain NHS websites, including nhs.uk and 111.nhs.uk for the latest information on the novel coronavirus outbreak, which has infected roughly 500,000 people globally and resulted in some 25,000 deaths.
No matter how much time customers spend on these NHS webpages – Vodafone won’t count any of this time towards customers’ data allowance. So those who have a few MBs each month shouldn’t worry about racing through any allowance and being unable to send or receive WhatsApp texts.
It’s important to note that Vodafone has closed its stores nationwide in accordance with the latest Government guidance to try to stop the spread of coronavirus across the population of the UK.
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The company acknowledged that while many customers prefer to talk about their concerns with someone face-to-face, “these are extraordinary times that require extraordinary measures.” For those who have an issue they’d like to raise with the company, Vodafone is advising customers to use the Vodafone app or check online where it offers a number of self-help guides at vodafone.uk/HowTo.
Alternatively, customers can talk to chatbot Tobi or ring 191 from a Vodafone phone as usual. However, the company warns that waiting times on the phone could be much longer than normal during this time.
In a note to customers, Vodafone adds that “those of you who may be concerned about what will happen to your ‘click and collect’ orders or phones you have in for repair. Please don’t worry. We’ll courier repaired phones back to you, and although our ‘click and collect’ service is suspended for now, we’ll still deliver online orders to your home over the coming days.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic grips the UK, Europe and United States, dozens of technology and telecom companies – like Vodafone – are scrambling to update their policies, billing procedures and services to accommodate the drastic changes in everyone’s daily lives. As well as extraordinary procedures introduced by the likes of Sky TV, Sky Mobile, Virgin Media TV and fibre broadband services, EE and Three, to name a few.
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