Recently this question has come up over and over again as a topic of discussion and at times a very heated one at that!
So we decided to dig a little deeper and see what we could find out. Well, you may just be surprised at what we found… but then again maybe not, if you are truly doing your due diligence and reading your Terms of Service agreements. Are you?
The TOS is the service contract between you and the service provider, so there is no “he said, she said”, no confusion on what a customer service representative or sales rep may have told you, no missing the fine print on the web page… none of that! It’s what you signed up for, pure and simple. And it’s where we went to find out what they say about their own service.
What we found out is that "most" merchants add some kind of "reasonable use" clause in their TOS agreement when dealing with unlimited or unmetered plans. We found that both RingCentral and VirtualPBX have very similar "reasonable usage" policies with regards to their Unlimited Minutes plans, and while Phone.com does not have wording specifically limiting their unlimited minutes plans, they do have a general reasonable usage clause. Each of these statements basically state that you will use their services for "normal business" use and not for any type of excessive or fraudulent activities that would put an undo burden on their systems:
- VirtualPBX: "Service that includes unlimited usage is subject to fair and reasonable use, which is defined as less than 20,000 minutes per month."
- RingCentral: "Unlimited Plans cannot, under any circumstances, be used for call-in lines, call centers, conference calling, trunking (to a PBX or otherwise), continuous or extensive call forwarding, autodialing, fax blasting, telemarketing (including without limitation charitable or political solicitation and/or polling), junk faxing, fax spamming, or other high volume or multi-person calling or faxing purposes. Excessive Use of Unlimited Plans is prohibited. "Excessive Use" means that your use exceeds the monthly minutes per line used by 98% of all RingCentral Unlimited Plan customers. Excessive Use is measured on a monthly basis, per line."
- Phone.com: "You agree to limit your use of the Virtual Office Service to ordinary and usual home or office voice communications and not to use the Service for auto-dialing, continuous or extensive call forwarding, telemarketing, fax broadcasting, fax blasting, or any type of automated or continuous use."
So what happens if you exceed the reasonable usage?
- VirtualPBX: "Customers on plans with unlimited usage who use more than 20,000 minutes per monthly billing cycle are not considered normal usage and therefore will be subject to a fee of 1.9 cents for any traffic that exceeds 20,000 minutes. In addition, at VPBX’s sole discretion, accounts that are inconsistent with normal usage are subject to transfer to an appropriate plan, suspension or termination."
- RingCentral: "If you violate this Reasonable Use Policy, including but not limited to by Excessive Use of the Service, you hereby acknowledge and agree that RingCentral may modify, suspend, terminate, disconnect or take any other reasonable action regarding your Service to prevent continued violation of this Reasonable Use Policy (a “Plan Modification”), including charging you on per minute basis, at RingCentral’s published per minute rates, for any Excess Use or automatically converting your Unlimited Plan to a metered plan."
- Phone.com:"Phone.com reserves the right to immediately terminate or modify the Service, if Phone.com determines, in its sole discretion, that the Service is being used for any of the aforementioned activities, subject to applicable law regarding such terminations."
So I guess when it comes down to the question “Does Unlimited really mean Unlimited?“, it really depends upon the merchant you are dealing with. We suggest you pay close attention to the Terms of Service agreement, but you should be aware that most merchants are going to put some kind of reasonable usage clause in their agreement.
What reasonable means to each merchant is left up to that merchant, as we’ve seen by the three examples above. However based on the fact that it would be extremely easy for someone to purchase one of these unlimited minute plans and abuse it, we do understand why the merchants have to protect themselves with some form of reasonable use clause.
You can access the information we found on each of the merchant’s policies here: