Why we must stop bloody Vodafone…

This evening I took some photos with my camera and sent them to Flickr. And when I went to Flickr, this is what I saw:

Vodafone, my mobile phone provider have started to turn all outgoing e-mails that go through their system into image-full HTML e-mails, dripping with highly-branded bullshit advertising crap that clearly they believe I’ve been clamouring out for. Except of course it breaks Flickr completely. Each photo I post is now complemented by spacer gifs, little logos, gif text and dumb bloody icons. Flickr treats each as a separate image. The act of posting four photos makes pages of empty marketing guff appear across my photostream – and by consequence all over my weblog. Effectively, with one flick of a switch, my camera phone has become useless and my desire to use Vodafone immediately and effectively zero.

What kind of cretinous organisation does this kind of thing? I mean I’m already paying to send multimedia messages and e-mails via their service – and they still want to cover it in advertising? I mean – I’d leave for the advertising and the HTML e-mails alone, but to make me pay for it too? Excruciating. I’m also an evangelist – promoting picture messaging via the Flickr box on my site – and a good customer. I pay more for data transfer each month than I do for making phone calls. What on earth were they thinking?

I rang up in a fury and they’re looking into it, but if I don’t get a satisfactory response I don’t think I can stay with them any longer. No doubt there is a way around this stuff, but mobile phone connectivity is excruciating to set up, and covered in proprietorial crap that seems designed to do nothing but confuse. And if it’s confusing me a lot, then I’m assuming that other people will be as or more confused by the whole thing. Therefore, at this precise moment in time, I’d say if you were thinking of using your cameraphone to post to your weblog or to Flickr, then you should seriously consider staying well away from Vodafone. And if you’re stuck with them already – ring them up, shout at them or send them e-mails telling them to stop trying to milk every last penny of value from every picture message that someone sends, because it’s sure as hell going to start hurting their bloody business if it’s not possible to use these services in the way that see fit…

In the meantime, if anyone knows how I can get photographs onto Flickr using my Nokia 6230 without getting all these vile guff, then please post in the comments below. In return, I’ll give you my first born child. Unless I actually have a child. In which case, maybe I’ll get you a coke.

39 replies on “Why we must stop bloody Vodafone…”

Comrade, abusing the person in the call centre in India or wherever or an underpaid store attendant is going to have zero impact on the policies brought down by upper management.. (And thank $DEITY that I work in the call centre of a reputable company)

Almost every carrier does crap like this. Cal has a script that ‘cleans’ incoming mail for different crap from different carriers – it has several hundred things to check for.
If you have a capable browser/phone OS, you can use the Flickr mobile site to upload instad.

I had a similar problem with t-mobile (in the US) last summer. For several weeks my very simple python script would strip images out of emails from my phone, and post them to my blog. Then one day I started to find there were half a dozen images, all awkwardly MIMEd and packaged.
So far, I haven’t recovered the will to photoblog.

can you use a different mail server for your outbound mail Tom?
Voda already refuse access to certain ‘bad’ sites if you try to look at them on your handset through their gprs connection – like my blog for example, because it contains the word ‘Flash’ a lot apparently… It seems that Voda definitely have somekind of god-complex going on. Arseholes.

Thanks Cal! Thanks Stewart! That’s tremendously good news. On the other hand, it fixes the symptom rather than the problem – I don’t want them to advertise all over my e-mail! Does anyone know if the cost of their advertising counts towards my bandwidth bills?

If you mean to ask whether they charge you for the cost of transmitting the extra bytes that the advertising adds to your message, presumably all the bumpf is tacked on once the message has been transmitted from your phone to Vodafone, before being sent on to the intended recipient–as opposed to being added “at the source” by your phone. I think that the uploading of the message is the only part of the process for which you are charged per-byte, so I can’t imagine that the advertising contributes to your bandwidth bill.

Pete: That’s becuase to Voda you’re automatically under 18 unless you tell them otherwise. If you do so they’ll remove the block. Give them a rinbg or log into your ‘My Vodafone’ at It’s to do with them attempting to be enthusiastic and implement what Ofcom want them to do earlier than anyone else.

What really annoys me is that if you want your carrier to change anything like this you have to threaten to leave them and explain how much of a faithful customer you’ve been. You’re in a good position in being able to tell them that you run a high-trafic tech website on which you’ve posted about their money-grabbing practices.

Are these proper emails or MMS messages you are sending the picture via?
If email can’t you simply set up to use a different outgoing/smtp mail server? I know there is a roaming issue here, in that if you can relay then it’s an open relay, but a lot of handsets are offering SMTP auth these days which will get round that. Of course this is just another work-around, and not one that everyone will be able to handle
Just my 2p. It still sucks. Another classic corpo-rot endevour to control their part of the world instead or co-operating with the rest of it.

Does the Nokia 6230 have the ability to send mails via POP3? That’s how I do it on my phone (an SE T630) and it works fine – you can send them from your regular email address then.

Vodafone inspires bile
Tom Coates directs a glorious stream of bile towards Vodafone, who have apparently essentially hacked all outgoing forms of email to include HTML and their own image so that, among other things, posting to Flickr on your phone is completely buggered: W…

I had the very same problem with vodafone Germany. They startetd doing this in March 2004, 2 weeks after I bought my camera phone. 🙁
The only workaround is not to use MMS if you can.
If you have to use MMS, you need a private MMS server with a GSM modem, which forwards all incoming MMS to email without that nasty HTML.

Tom – that’s a good question – you’d expect that if you were being charged by the kbit/byte transferred they’d only be billing on the basis of the size of the jpeg/email as it left your phone and not any additional content they decided to wrap around it (otherwise what’s to stop them – apart from being monumentally stupid, of course – from wrapping a few hundred kbytes worth of padding around each email you send from your phone?)

Moblogging Failure
Well, yesterday was coherent, wasn’t it? Erm. I tried to send a picture from a mobile on Vodafone, by sending the image to the email address that auto-posts from flickr to my blog. It works fine when I do that…

Vodaphone uses dirty tricks to save something like EUR from German taxes. This is why we must stop them. I am a freelance designer and pay excruciating taxes on my small income. Germany is in a dramatic financial situation, and we must stop enterprises that work like this. This is why we must stop Vodaphone.

What you’re running into is the way Vodafone play tricks to enable MMS transmission to people with incompatible handsets. If you send an MMS to someone whose phone can’t cope then they get a text message with a URL to go to. Voda have obviously started doing evil munging to the message if you pick an email address when you send the message this way. If I get my mobile-tech right at this point, I think that when you send a MMS to an email address you’re not really sending an email until it reaches the Vodafone gateway. That converts it and does this evil munging.
I don’t know whether your 6230 can do this as an alternative, but if you can actually send proper emails from it and attach the pictures then that should work better and not rely on flickr munging the received messages. On my SE V800 (also on a Vodafone contract) it has the added bonus of not resizing (shrinking) the image – a habit that was really annoying me after I’d carefully taken a high resolution photo only to have it screwed over by the MMS process.

Ah, this just gives me one more reason to hate Vodafone. Now, I’m even more embarrassed that they’re my mobile carrier.
Tom: I couldn’t find your contact details anywhere, but, as a fellow Vodafone customer, I’m curious how you’re sending photos to Flickr. I would probably use Flickr a lot more if I could also do this.

I maybe can help you. I built a MMS weblog that filters out the Vodafone advertising images. (it works for Dutch users now).

Right now, I’m building in an MMS-forward option to send inbound MMS message to other weblogs that have an API.

If you are interested, please mail me so I can extent the Vodafone-ad-filter.


That’s not all that Vodafone do.
A year ago, I bought a Sharp GX30 Handset from Vodafone. With INFRARED and BLUETOOTH capability.
A friend of mine took a photo on his holiday, and he was trying to send it to me by infrared from his phone. It didn’t work.
I tried with other phones, to see if it was his phone that was the problem, or mine, and it turned out to be mine — I couldn’t receive files from anyone.
Later that day I tried to investigate why, only to find that Vodafone BLOCKED the infrared and bluetooth, forcing customers to use their MMS service instead. Of course, they don’t want people sending files for free by bluetooth and infrared, oh no, MMS is the way to go about it (!) I complained, and all they said was “We have no plans to change the firmware.”
I think Vodafone are sick.

Ok, folks. Vodafone can’t block any infrared or bluetooth system, just because they can not get to you mobile systems. They can block services, like MMS, but never your bluetooth. Nor Vodafone, nor Nokia. If it doen’t work, it’s just because of the mobile.
About other things you were talking, I guess all you have no idea about mobile companies and so on…

Hi Tom,
I also have vodafone UK. I have no problem emailing my photos to flickr but I had to configure my own sending and receiving hosts in the phone. I am not using Vodafone mail. Of course when I called vodafone to ask for the steps to follow, in order to confiigure this stuff, the only answer I got was that it was not possible. I was forced to use Vodafone mail.
So after arguing with customer service for a while and fiddling with the phone on my own I sorted out the configuration myself and now I am happy to have control of my phone emails which I serve via my own domain.

You could try the following:
Put your Flickr email address into your mobile phonebook
Select this and then select compose Picture Message
Compose your picture message
Send it.
..tell me if it works

I hate Vodafone too.
I connected my new SIM 24 hours ago, and have already managed to complain enough to be put through to a manager.
Oh, and I’m waiting for a callback.

I know this is a fairly old page, but Vodafuct aka VooDooFone have shown me the worst customer service I’ve ever had.
After signing up to a contract with them back in 1995, and finding their coverage shady at best, I decided to transfer my contract on. Vodafuct did no admin work on it, and I ended up having a debt registered against me, despite having a copy of the signed documentation. When I called about it, they were less than helpful. Their response being “You shouldn’t have transferred your contract then, should you?!”
I’ve had friends cut off, friends whose firmware’s been bastardised to prevent them from sending/receiving files via Bluetooth, and deaf friends who’ve been billed for calls that they clearly haven’t made.
They are without doubt the worst company I’ve ever dealt with.

I think all sevices from all mobile companies are rip offs, but if you want coverage in a lot of areas of Scotland, were I live, then Vodafone is the one to have. I also have to carry an Orange and a T-Mobile phone about as well because there are also areas were Vodafone does not work.
I would be grateful if the person who mentioned setting up email other then vodafone on their handset would post the details or email me. I can send photos via MMS, and it says they are delivered, but they never arrive at the email address I sent them to.

I’m sure the word Vodafone can be mathematically shown to represent the number of the beast. The upper echelons should be put against a wall and shot, having previously been dunked in nitric acid. For a month now I’ve been trying to cancel my vodash!t contract after receiving a bill so large that I can’t pay it, even though I didn’t think I’d made that many calls (but don’t dare phone them and question them unless you want to be put straight in no uncertain terms and made to feel an inch high for daring to suggest that the bill is wrong!)
I can only get out of this goddamn cursed contract by faxing them certain things, which I have now done almost 10 times using various size fonts, quality settings on the fax machine, etc. But each time they claim something isn’t legible! The other alternative is mailing them the stuff, but that’d take even longer – especially with the crap post here. First the faxes weren’t legible, then suddenly they magically were but one identification document wasn’t, then apparently my signature isn’t clear enough. And while saying the fax wasn’t legible, they showed their lies by acting on the instructions I’d put in the fax about ringing me back or faxing me instead of sending letters that take 12 days to get to me!
I hate them. Oh, and now because of their playing around, I’ve got another month’s charges on top of a debt I can’t pay still. F**kers.

Vodafone is crap,they gave my cellphone number away to someone else,even though i had all proof it was my number,and i had used my phone constantly without switching it off. They didnt even bother try helping out,they are just the worst customer service i have ever received. I hope they learn how to treat their customers or they will lose alot of business

Vodafone is rubbish / crap. They can’t help and after giving you the run around for a week then they can’t give you the old number. Getting the head office phone number is also not going to happen. Well I am sure Orange or one of the others will be more helpfull.

I think you people would complain about just about anything. Surely if you needed a service to do something you would have the common sense to check it out first before commiting to it.
Calling up customer services and yelling at them just shows what sort of backwards person you are. Have some sense and respect, talk to people how you would want them to talk to you.
Every network has restrictions, check it out first before you start your rant of complaints that only highlights your stupidity.

Well that’s a completely bloody stupid thing to say. Did you not read the bit that said “have started to” – as opposed to ‘I signed up to the service only to discover…” They changed the service on me and it was a matter of considerable concern to me and made me want to leave them.
I think it’s perfectly reasonable to be angry when the people you pay money to change their service without talking to you about it – particularly when it effectively removes the reason that you used the service in the first place (and also when you’re financially committed for a period of time afterwards).

I am making a documentary about Customer service. The good, the bad and the ugly. If people have stories they would like to share, have an ongoing complaint against any company who they feel has treated them badly please contact me

BBC1 are making a show that deals with consumer affairs and social injustice stories. The show aims to highlight and solve peoples problems on the show. It is not as hard-hitting as Watchdog but it always aims to solve cases that are taken on.We are especially looking for people with mobile phone issues. Email; -if this sounds like something that might interest you – to discuss further.

It is so complicated, you will lose the will to live. YOu always get through to some numpty with the job satisfaction of a macdonalds loo cleaner who will ask you to spell your name 3 times over, but still insist on calling you “Willer”. They will then put you on hold for half an hour, after which they will tell you their “systems are down” – to this you will respond “please may I speak to a manager” – sure, another 15 minutes holding to which all you get is the same numpty saying “sorry, the line manager is out, I have left your details and he will call you back.
Your heart will feel hope and then pain as you realise no one is capable of taking responsibility for anything these days, and no one will call you back.
The next day you will wake up and try again, trying to explain the situation to some other degenerate Vodafone have chosen to confound all of their customers with. You will also see, much to your dismay that the Vodafone share price continues to rise, and you know in your heart of hearts it is because they so wisely employ morons who cannot possibly help their customers when they bill them for calls which they are not liable for.
You then speak to Ofcom who refer you to Icstis who then refer you back to Vodafone, because you have to get the details of Vodafones Alternative Dispute Resolution programme before you can progress with your claim. Vodafone kindly inform you that their staff have up to 3 months (which they clearly need to string a sentence together) before they can give you the details of the ADR. You want to lay your hands on a lethal weapon, that or just leave the country, go somewhere where you can see a human being

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