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O2 Treats - Not As Good As They Sound

Thursday, 25 May 2006 o2 offers technology

Aren’t mobile (that’s “cell” to the yanks) phone providers rubbish. Last month I got a text message from my provider, O2, saying that because I was a valued customer of theirs for six months, I was eligible for an “O2 Treat”. All I had to do was ring the number and select what I wanted.

Being British, I’m naturally a cynic — even at the best of times — and thought that the only reason for them giving me this highly suspect looking, four-digit-long phone number was to charge me for the outgoing call, so I canned the idea of ever calling it.

However, on the phone to my girlfriend this evening, she told me that she’d just got a text message through had rung the number and had selected on of these highly valued “O2 Treats”. She said the phone call was free so I thought I’d investigate a little further and see if there is actually such a thing as a free lunch.

Welcome to O2 treats! This call is FREEEEEE!!! To pick your O2 Treat now, please press 1 now… For more information about treats, press 2 now.

I pressed 1. It then gave me the following options:

For free text messages between 7pm and 8pm press 1 now

For 10 minutes any-time, any UK network, free talk time, each month, press 2 now

For 10 free text messages a month to any UK network press 3 now.

My contract does not come with any sort of daytime calling rate. I’m on a off peak plan and get ridiculous amounts of off peak minutes and text messages so I obviously want to be able to make peak calls, so I selected number 2.

It went on to confirm that I’d selected the free minutes and that they would start when I got my next bill. They will even send me a text message when they do start. I phoned Harri back up and she had the suspicion that when they come to deduct the minutes that we use when talking in the evening, they might take them out of our “Treats” before they take them out of our plans’ inclusive minutes, but that would be totally crazy as we wouldn’t be getting anything free.

I decided to go onto their web site’s terms and conditions and check up on this, because as she said, it totally invalidates the point of there being a treat unless the first phone call you make, uses the treat at peak time. Lo and behold on their web site is the following clause:

7. O2 Treats minutes and messages will be decremented before all standard inclusive Calling Plan minutes and messages.

So yes. There is no point for the customer getting a treat unless they respect how to use them properly. If you’re on a low-text tariff, then the text messages may go some way to help you out.

Furthermore, if you don’t know this clause, and you make a 10-minute call in the evening and think you still have 10 minutes of anytime left to use, and make a call in the daytime, O2 have just robbed you of 10 minutes worth of call… That’s up to a fiver. No I’m not a sore-arsed customer who didn’t read the terms and conditions. I’m one that did and I’m warning other O2 users. If you know someone on contract O2, make sure they have a read of this before signing up for a treat.