06
Nov
vodaphone logo

Normally we're pretty pleased when we can report that a new country or carrier has enabled the option for carrier billing in the Google Play Store, allowing customers to charge app and media purchases directly to their phone bill. But for some reason, European carrier Vodafone seems to have dropped the option entirely. Vodafone has disappeared from the list of carrier billing partners on Google's Play Store support page, and we've confirmed the loss of capability from individual users in the UK, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

playstorebilling

Neither Vodafone nor Google have given an explanation as to why the billing feature has been dropped. We've reached out to the latter for comment, and Vodafone has confirmed the change on a UK support site, stating simply that the option has been removed. The change seems to have impacted all four Vodafone markets simultaneously, which indicates (but by no means proves) that this is a company-wide change in policy. It's a real shame, too: the Play Store's support for carrier billing in Europe was still a bit on the spotty side, and now Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom are left with only one company offering carrier billing each (Wind, Movistar, and T-Mobile, respectively).

Google has been steadily trying to improve its carrier billing options in all markets. While the customers affected by this change are still capable of purchasing Play Store content with conventional debit or credit cards, I'm sure at least a few will be left wondering why the feature was dropped.

Source: Google Play Store Support, Google+ users

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • Matthias

    Now this is interesting... I'm on Vodafone in Germany and I've never had this option in the first place. Only credit card or (more recently) Play Store credit.

    • Laszlo Demeter

      Spain here and I never had that option either. I'm now not with Vodafone anymore (I'm now with Simyo - KPN)

    • backslash

      Carrier billing was only possible on devices bought directly from the carrier. If you used a SIM from Vodafone with an unlocked retail Android device you couldn't pay through carrier billing. At least this is how it was in germany.

      • Testraindrop

        Correct, never had that option on the Nexus' I had.

        You could change a Build.prop entry however and it worked then, but I only tried it once last year.

      • Matthias

        I know that, I have a Vodafone branded HTC One purchased directly from the carrier. Still no carrier billing to be found. (It isn't even rooted ;) )

        Apparently, this was never offered to all their customers anyway...

      • mopi

        I have cariier billing via 3 Ireland, I never had a 3 supplied phone. I use a Nexus 4 [factory unlocked] or Samsung S5570 [privately unlocked was Vodafone]

  • Floris

    Nooo, I was hoping for this to get to the Netherlands, where they already stated it would be coming some time soon, but those chances seem to be lost.

  • Roberto Giunta

    To be really honest, I wouldn't wonder if the unspoken reason is either "People are too dumb to notice that it still cost money" or "My kid had my phone/tablet and now I'm poor!". I got so many people wondering why they got some additional cost on their bills, it's not funny. Although it wasn't Play Store purchases, it was services like horoscope or weather services that were 'accidently' clicked on however they did that.

  • gumbald

    Is that map from Encarta?

  • Eli Friedman

    T-mobile rep here. You have no idea how many people come in yelling at me because they decided to charge $30 in apps and did not realize that yes indeed, they do have to pay for it. I can absolutely see why they made this decision.

    • http://gamingirl.com Twinkling82

      scam and crapware is most likely the cause. And kids getting hold of a phone they shouldn't be touching.

      • Ryuuie

        I've been a rep for Virgin Mobile before...Eli's right, people can be kind of dumb. I seriously am 100% sure it's because customers are too dumb to realize that it's not free just because you don't need to pay for it right now.

        Hell, I work for one of those "buy stuff from TV" channels (Shop NBC, HSN, QVC...) and people are STILL like this. :|

        • http://gamingirl.com Twinkling82

          Not just dumb, some will likely claim it to be an error to get out of paying for what they should be paying for.

          • Ryuuie

            Yeah, they try that too. :( It doesn't work. lol

  • http://gamingirl.com Twinkling82

    It's obvious why this has happened. With all the scam- and crapware in the store, and the bill hitting the phonebill, customers has been complaining to Vodafone and the other companies, almost forcing them to this decision.

  • Alok
    • Alok

      As a follow-up, this was just posted.

      http://www.androidpolice.com/2013/11/06/att-announces-14-new-lte-markets-pushes-total-to-461/

      It all could be just a theory in my head, but sure looks like it O.o

    • BarnaPaul

      To the people saying they don't see carrier billing, this is probably because Google will only present you the option if they don't already have your credit card number. The margins are better on the CC transcations for them, and also they keep themselves relevant in the payment cycle.

  • DoubleP90

    Support for carrier billing was disabled in Vodafone Italy a few months ago, at least my brother wasn't able to buy anythign with carrier billing.

    I've changed carrier luckily because vodafone is shit -.-

  • johan

    This map is shit,where's Tallin,Ryga,Poznan,Wroclaw,Krakow,Prague and Dublin???????

    • Branimir

      There is Yugoslavia om this map LOL, typically American :-)

  • Yodaphoney

    Vodafone couldn't be bothered to switch from Google Checkout to Wallet.

  • vis10n

    "Carrier-based billing for Windows Phone has started to roll out in South Africa" from http://mybroadband.co.za/news/software/91285-buy-windows-phone-apps-with-airtime-in-south-africa.html

    Vodafone is still branded as Vodacom in SA.

  • KevinH

    Longtime user of Google Play Carrier Billing, Verizon. You can now purchase $50 per month.

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