Fraudulent Promises from Mobile Operators

A fraudulent activity is deliberately deceitful, dishonest, or untrue, and this week the founder of Theranos, an American company, was given a long prison sentence for fraud.

The court found that she lied to investors and buyers of her company’s main blood testing equipment. The equipment did not perform the blood testing as promised! She did not tell the truth to those who gave her money – investors and buyers.

Finnish mobile operators sell 5G services that promise to deliver data to your phone with a speed of 200 mega bits a second (mbs) that costs some €360 each year.

I have had this contract from DNA (one of the largest mobile operators). When I check the speed of this service in the middle of Helsinki most of the time the speed is between 15mbs and 50mbs. I have only once seen 75mbs, and that was late in the night.

When I call DNA they ask me when I purchased my phone, which was now 30 months ago. Then they claim that my phone is “out-dated” and cannot operate at higher speeds. This is rubbish because my wife has a 6 month old iPhone (she also has a DNA contract) that shows exactly the same speed on DNA’s speed test.

The DNA representative then offers to put me in touch with their network specialist, which I refuse. When I complain about the low speeds their network specialist tells me the same story that there are no network problems. He then explains that lower speeds are common when there are many users. I ask him when will they expand capacity to give me the higher speeds because I am only seeing a small fraction of what is promised. No answers are given other than the comment that they have only contracted to to give me a maximum speed of 200 mbs. My demand to pay for what I get, which is some 20% of what is promised, is generally met with laughter! They never agree to this demand, and see no reason to visit my home to check out why the speeds are so slow. Customer service is like a steam-roller – they can ignore consumer complaints like a steam-roller flattening asphalt.

DNA, like all the big mobile operators, clearly must know that their network speeds are between 20% and 30% of what is promised, and yet they demand that we pay the full price. I am sure that my experience is suffered by all DNA customers and yet nothing happens.

Given that they have more than 2 000 000 customers one can assume that DNA are fraudulent in making contractual promises they know cannot honestly be fulfilled, while happily receiving some €700 million each year. 

It would be very different if many customers were reaching speeds 80% of the promised maximum, but most of us appear to be nearer to 20% of the promised maximum speeds. 

When we have approached the Consumer Ombudsman, we hear that the contracts have clear language that do not promise full and continuous access to 100% of the fastest speeds. However, the contracts and language of all of the three largest Finnish mobile operators, (DNA, Telia and Elisa) are almost identical with regard to price, terms, and conditions.

These three appear to operate like a cartel where their lobby and influence over law-makers appear to override the legal rights of consumers who pay huge sums for a service that is no where near what is promised, and the companies well know this! That is a reasonable fit of the meaning of a fraudulent activity.

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