Ya, this mobile web is a great idea

cellphone2 I am not a big fan of the ‘mobile web’ primarily because of the way that consumers are constantly being jacked by providers. As far as the providers are concerned signing up for their mobile services is akin to handing them over a blank check with your signature on it. Unfortunately much of these self-same mobile practices are finding their way into our normal internet connections as well.

Increasingly we are hearing of broadband providers whining about how they just have to switch to using download caps and extra billing wherever they can.  Of course this is all happening at the same time as we are seeing a push for more streaming content, bigger video files and living life in the cloud. I’ll bet if you listened real close you could hear the cha-ching of profit margin and the high-five in the boardrooms of providers.

If you’re lucky though you might get a courtesy call like Doc Searls did when he went over his usage limits recently.

So I just got a “courtesy call” from Sprint, a company I’ve been talking up for a couple years becuase I’ve had nothing but positive experience with my Sprint EvDO data card.

Well, that’s over. The call was to inform me that I’d gone over the 5Gb monthly usage limit for my data card, to the tune of 10,241,704.22kb, for which I was to be charged $500, on top of my $59.99 (plus $1.24 tax) monthly charge.

Why I went over is simple: I had little or no reliable landline (cable) Internet connectivity at my house in Santa Barbara for weeks after I got back there in June. I wrote about that here, here, here, here and here. So I used my Sprint datacard a lot.

Even though the Sprint representative wanted to work with Doc over the matter it only saw a reduction of $350.00 even though that same rep couldn’t (or wouldn’t?) tell him how Sprint had arrived at that number.

As bad as I feel for Doc I also because of his reputation in the technology world that he will at some point get some better resolution to this but the fact is this is a story we are going to hear more and more about. Companies like Sprint have us by the balls – especially when it comes to mobile computing (or living on the web).

While Doc Searls may have gotten some resolution I’d be willing to bet that when this starts happening to more and more people who aren’t as well known as Doc they won’t see the same “courtesy call” type of resolutions. When it comes to mobile computing – especially outside of the US – providers are laughing all the way to the bank.