T-Mobile cut fair use limit – and a lot of apostrophes

The indisputable winner of today’s ‘Adding insult to injury’ award is the UK arm of the T-Mobile phone network. From 1 February, they’ll be reducing customers’ monthly data limit from 1GB to 500MB. That’s bad enough, but the page they’ve hastily slapdashed together on their website (or at least I hope it was hastily, otherwise there’s no excuse) really takes the cake. See for yourselves (click for full size):

Here are my main grievances with this exceptionally shoddy piece of copy:

1. First line – “Fixed-price”. No need for the hyphen. Yes, I’m going to be that picky, I’m annoyed with these people!

2. Second line – “we never charge our customer’s more…”. Superfluous apostrophe, unless you’ve only got one customer – which may well be the case after this.

3. “You’ll never need to worry about how many emails you’ve sent, how long you’ve been on-line or the ‘data / GB’s’”. I have multiple problems with this sentence. Firstly, clearly now that they’ve cut the limit, we WILL have to worry about how much we’ve used. Secondly, online isn’t hyphenated – are you from the 90s or something? Do you still write ‘e-mail’ and capitalise the word ‘internet’?

Thirdly – and this annoys me so much I’m not sure I can articulate it properly – “‘data / GB’s'”. No need for the inverted commas, no need for the space before and after the slash, no need for the apostrophe in GBs. But worse than that, the reason we don’t need to worry about the gigabytes anymore is that we no longer have any. Gee, thanks!

4. “So Whats Changing?” and “What Does This Mean?”. Don’t Use Title Case. It’s Annoying, See? Also, this time they’ve omitted an apostrophe where they actually needed one. Sigh.

5. “So remember…” comes out of nowhere and is one of the reasons the whole piece scans terribly.

6. “If you want to download, stream and watch video clips, save that stuff for your home broadband.” Complete tone of voice fail on this line. It comes across as rude and dismissive. Excuse me – I’ve signed myself into an expensive 18-month contract with you jokers, for a smartphone whose main selling features include its large screen for watching videos and its app store for downloading things. Don’t tell me what to use my phone and home broadband for. That’s very much up to me. You pillocks.

7. They’ve halved my bastarding data allowance!

Ahh, I feel better now. Nothing like a good rant to soothe the commercial Copywriter’s harried soul.

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6 thoughts on “T-Mobile cut fair use limit – and a lot of apostrophes

  1. Annoyed says:

    You forgot to mention the unbelievably patronising t.o.v. of this bit:

    “your favorite websites like Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, BBC News”

    Aw, those are my fave sites, are they? Thanks T-Mob, I’d forgotten. Now I know what I’m allowed to look at!

    Utter bastards.

  2. Tom Albrighton says:

    Great post, and a great dissection of the technical problems with this copy.

    I think the tone of voice fail actually extends to the entire piece. They’re withdrawing a benefit without offering anything in return – not even a price cut. That demands an apology. Not a huffy defence of their fair use policy, written as if this was all the customer’s fault for downloading things.

    The point about ‘save that stuff for home’ is atrocious – but it’s made doubly so by being used as the signoff. At the VERY least, it’s got to be ‘thanks for choosing us’. Hello?

    A letter like this is no different from a sales letter. We need to see the benefit up front – a new one ideally, to make up for what’s being lost, or failing that an existing one. And we MUST have honesty and directness about what is going on. ‘We’re cutting the allowance so that we can hold the price down’, while arguably disingenuous, would be better than what they’ve actually written.

    The headline as it stands is so offhand and ill-thought-out that it amounts to an invitation to cancel your contract. And it was no surprise to see plenty of people announcing yesterday that they’d be doing exactly that.

  3. Andy Nattan says:

    I adore the fact that AdSense has plonked a great big “BUY T-MOBILE STUFF” ad at the bottom of this post!

    And good spot. I was so incensed at reading about the cuts to notice that it was written by a moron.

  4. copybot says:

    All excellent points, Tom. I get the impression this piece was written by a client, and not a writer. It certainly resembles the kind of copy I’ve seen clients writing in the past. That might be unfair, but I sincerely hope no Copywriter would submit something of this standard, even as a first draft.

    Personally, I’m hoping the data cut means I can leave my contract six months early, as it’s no longer fit for purpose in my view. I suspect T-Mobile won’t agree, though.

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