Not great being proved right…….

Posted on Updated on

alan_phone226x282As a family we have ‘suffered’ more than most in relation to mobile phone theft. My stepdaughter has had two iPhones stolen now over the last 6 months, both in Nottingham when on a night out. The first was taken from her in Rock City which apparently is well known as a hot spot for this crime (they are working with the police on the issue I gather).

The second was in a pub in town – in both cases the phone was taken from a closed bag – so we assumed it was professional criminals.

This has now been confirmed by information released recently by the police that shows that teams of criminals are descending on our cities to carry out this crime – to then export the phones abroad (where they are not locked and can be used or sold).

Yes this is a problem the police and venues need to address, but is it not more of an issue for the manufacturers and networks? The ability to reuse the phones abroad is a massive ‘loophole’ in the supposed security provided by blacklisting phones. The networks need a world wide system to block phones – and they need it now.

Call centres – time for another option?

Posted on Updated on

I have recently had cause to speak to a call centre in the Philippines – it services T-Mobile and has the usual very polite and friendly staff that one gets in all call centres. So what is my problem? If the service is friendly and helpful why complain?

20121228-120840.jpgWell friendly is all very well, and in my experience the staff are always very apologetic (I only appear to call if there is a problem) – my issue is that they all work from scripts that don’t usually answer problems – they just deflect them! I find that the only way you can get a resolution to a problem is to ask to speak to a manager, and in effect escalate the issue – which is always a major issue for the staff member you are talking to!

I realise that call centres can work for very basic issues – like “how do I do this on my phone” or “why won’t this work on my phone” – but as soon as you throw them a “curved ball” the system can’t cope and they just end up being even more apologetic and friendly!

So why can’t the call centres have an option when you ring up (and they have lots of options!) that is for people like me who only call when they are forced into a corner? The option could be something like this;

“Press 4 if you are at the end of your tether a want to kill someone”

It could work and actually save time at the call centres as well!

More ‘joy’ with a mobile provider!

Posted on Updated on

I appear to be developing a bit of a ‘thing’ with mobile providers – I don’t know if I expect too much from them, or whether they are just all useless – but they really don’t ‘cut the mustard’ as far as I am concerned!

20121227-182149.jpgMy latest problem is with T Mobile (Now called EE it appears). My stepdaughters iPhone was stolen and is not insured with T Mobile but via Endsleigh Insurance (who I would add have been brilliant – highly recommended!) To sort out her insurance claim we need two documents from T Mobile – the first to confirm the blacklisting of the iPhone, the second a proof of purchase. One would not expect this to be a problem – it has actually been a nightmare and I have had to resort to emailing the CEO of EE (Olaf Swantee). Rather than explain the story the email is set out below. I have no idea if I will get a reply – I hope I do – but I am not holding my breath!

Dear sir

I am sorry to have to contact you, but I am running out of alternatives. I am attempting to obtain a proof of ownership and blacklisting document for my stolen iPhone which is on contract with T-Mobile (but not insured through yourselves).

I first requested the documents on the 17th December, your call centre in the Philippines confirmed the documents would be mailed to me and I would get them within 5 days. I was also told that one of them would be emailed to the EE store on Clumber Street in Nottingham for me to collect the next day.

On arrival at the store no such email had been received, as I had made a special trip into town I was not amused (and out of pocket due to parking) however I shrugged it off as the documents would be in the post.

Roll forward to Christmas Eve – nothing in the post yet so I rang again. This time I was told that one of the documents was only done the day before (not on the 17th as I had been assured previously). I asked for them to be emailed to me which I was told was not possible – on hearing this I asked to speak to a manager. As it was lunchtime in the Philippines there were none available, so a ring back was arranged between 1pm and 2pm.

As you will probably be guessing now, this call did not arrive, so I called again at around 5pm(hopefully not tea time in the Philippines) again to be told to expect a call back.

You guessed it – no call back again!

As it was Christmas Day and then Boxing day next I did not call again – as no doubt there would be no managers available on such ‘holidays’. So I called again today (27th) and have been promised a call back again as soon as the previous call the manager was taking was complete. That was over 20 minutes ago! All I can assume is that you have many disgruntled customers who have lots to complain about!

Please can you sort this out for me? I am a reasonable man, but this is beginning to try my patience rather!

I look forward to hearing back from you at your earliest convenience.



I have received some contact from EE via twitter which may prove fruitful, I will update this as soon as I have more news!

Phone networks – friend or foe?

Posted on Updated on

EE-new-logo_orange-t-mobile-webThe mobile phone is a part of everyday life now – the smart phone is rapidly getting to the same position – how many people do you know who haven’t got one?

The mobile phone operators are all keen to land us as clients – they make great offers to lure you over to them, but how is the service then? At work we received some interesting ‘care’ from Orange before we had even signed up with them – because of this we didn’t move to them from Vodafone – perhaps this should have made me think before going with T-Mobile for my daughters iPhone!

The deal was (is) good, and the network is great. But, once things go wrong the care becomes rather less ‘impressive’.

Daughters iPhone was stolen this weekend (second time – not good, but not her fault). So a replacement SIM card was required – not a massive ask you would think as we have a contract – but there is a £10 charge! They give them away free to new customers! Also the opening times on the EE website (which has recently been updated) were wrong for the Nottingham stores – but that is another story!

And it gets better, we needed a ‘fill in’ phone while we sorted out the insurance, so a cheap pay as you go was required. But, and there is always ‘a but’ – we had to add £10 airtime to a sim we didn’t want. I asked the question – “can’t you wave that on the basis that we have just paid £10 for a sim anyway” – apparently not!

So we went to Carphone Warehouse who were very helpful and let us use a pay as you go number on another network to do an upgrade and therefore pay only for the phone.

So brilliant service (and advise) from Carphone Warehouse, but money grabbing and greed from T-Mobile, Orange, EE or what ever they call themselves today. If I need another mobile who will I be going to do you think?

When is a mobile network not a mobile network?

Posted on Updated on

Answer? When it constantly drops calls so that you have to use your landline!

Even Yoda can’t sort it out!

We are currently suffering constantly dropping calls on Vodafone at work – I have had calls lasting 10 minutes that have dropped at least 4 times during that time – and both parties had a good signals at the time! Frankly in this day and age this is just not acceptable, the mobile phone has been around for long enough to be reliable – it is about time the networks were as well.

This brings me back to one of my pet hates – the fact that our networks all run independent systems and don’t share ‘cells’. They are all intent on offering us a peek at 4G, but don’t appear capable of actually providing a consistent voice service.I am off to the wilds of Wiltshire this weekend – actually mid way between Bristol and London and near the M4 – but in network terms it could be the moon, the signal is rubbish on Vodafone!

As a firm we are currently looking at the renewal of our mobile contract and strangely the ability to actually make and receive calls comes quite high on our list of expectations! Vodafone are not exactly helping their cause here!

Five years on – still a market leader?

Posted on Updated on

Amazingly it is five years ago that Apple changed the way we all interact with our phones. Yes there were smartphones before the iPhone, and they were very capable things – I used various Windows-based units and they could run lots of program’s much like the iPhone does – but the similarity ends there.

20120701-101954.jpgThe iPhone brought with it an idiot proof interface – having and using a smartphone was no longer the preserve of the ‘geek’ or ‘techy’. The beauty of the iPhone OS is that it just works – sounds really obvious to us all now, but those familiar with the old Windows mobile OS’s will remember the constant need for reboots or the crashes! Also the user interface was just plain clunky compared to Apples iOS!

So in five years the iPhone has made huge progress in its market place and is now able to offer the majority of the functionality that the old smartphones offered (but in a far more user-friendly manner). It has also been ‘copied’ by Google’s Android OS, this is a very capable system and now has some very capable hardware to run it on – and this is where I am going with this blog. Apple need the next iPhone to be very, very good. They are now constantly in the courts with Samsung trying to stop their phones being sold – and that can only be because they fear them!

From my recent trial of the new Samsung S3 I can see why, it is very good. The screen is larger than the iPhone 4, it is thinner, lighter and a much nicer shape (I am not a fan off the square sided 4 if I am honest, (I loved the 3GS).

So, much as I love my iPhone I am worried that if Apple don’t produce an awesome iPhone next time around they will lose the lead in the smartphone market which would be a very sad turn of events. So here’s hoping for a good one!

Before we start worrying about faster 3G speeds can we sort out basic mobile signals?

Posted on Updated on

So small but so important!

As I mentioned in my last blog post I have had a very relaxing weekend under canvas in Derbyshire this last weekend. The Derbyshire Dales are truly breathtaking at any time – but particularly at the moment with all the new growth and wild flowers. So a quiet time was had – but quieter than I expected due to the almost total lack of a phone signal.

I am happy to accept that a National park does not want phone masts all over its hills, but we are not talking a partial lack of signal here, I was without a signal for the majority of the two days, despite moving around a lot (including in a car along main roads – so not all in river valleys!) I am also on a network that apparently claims to have the best UK coverage – Vodafone. Now if this is the case perhaps they could explain to me why my wife had a full signal – including 3G for almost the entire weekend? Her network? – Virgin Mobile who are not exactly a ‘big hitter’ like Vodafone!

I have commented before about exactly the same issue at my Mothers home town of Malmesbury in Wiltshire. It is only a few miles from the M4 and sits mid way between Bristol and Swindon, but the Vodafone signal is appalling! And guess what – my wife gets a full 3G signal there as well!

So my request to Vodafone is simple, stop claiming to have the best coverage – you don’t, by a long way. As far as I can see the other networks nearly all trounce you in most areas. So rather than spending a fortune pushing out 4G to everyone in the big cities how about a thought for your rural customers, what about giving them a decent service as well?

The Virgin chronicles – a brief update!

Posted on Updated on

Nice adverts Richard - now how about sorting my problem out?

As anyone who reads this blog will by now be aware I have ‘a bit of an issue’ with Virgin Mobile/Media that has now been rolling along for 17 days. I am beginning to get slightly confused as I was originally dealing with Virgin Mobile and was under the impression that they were a separate entity to Virgin Media (certainly the deal I am attempting to use was sold to me on that basis). However things have moved on…..

I am now definitely dealing with the Virgin Media complaints department – I have a direct number if anyone needs it. I am also now onto my fourth ‘expert’ within the department – and more exciting I have an extension to ring now that will put me straight through to Matthew who is my new contact.Is this an indication that they are finally taking the matter seriously – or just that I have now educated them in the ways of good customer care?

Matthew has got off to a shaky start – I asked for any calls regarding the matter to come via my own mobile number and not my son Sam’s, (it is his number that we are trying to sort out), but he tried ringing Sam’s first. However a quick email to me subsequently saved the situation! Plus point also for contacting on a Bank Holiday!

But, we are now into week three with no answer in sight. I am told that the IT department are still ‘looking into it’, however I would hope they may move to ‘doing something about it’ anytime soon!

I think I may have finally worked out Virgins customer complaint game plan – make it take so long to resolve that when it finally happens I am really appreciative? Hate to tell you Virgin but when it is finally sorted that is only the beginning…

Virgin Mobile – more issues – and then a light at the end of the tunnel?

Posted on Updated on

sorry - I need something to smile at!

I have been having a jolly time this week – as expected my contact with Virgin Mobile has not been productive or stress free. We started our little charade back on Saturday morning – bright and early. The task was simple (or so I thought). Transfer my son from pay as you go to a contract, something that most mobile companies should be able to do easily – but not it seems Virgin.

Since Saturday;

I have made 6 calls to Virgin.

I have spent two and a half hours on the phone to them!

I have had various 24 or 72 hour guarantees pass with no progress.

I have been ‘mislead’ twice

I have never received the promised calls back or texts to confirm the (hoped for) progress.

Oh – and although they tell me the phone contract has been set up – it hasn’t!

Getting to the end of my tether I decided to email the CEO of Virgin Mobile UK, Graeme Oxby, I doubted he would even get the email – they seem very good at deflecting complaints and then don’t act when you do complain. However I have recieved a quick reply directly back from him (and this was at 9.30 last night). So thank you Mr Oxby, I am impressed by your personal interest in my issues

So may be there is a light at the end of the tunnel? Mr Oxby has told me he will get someone from his team “to get in touch to sort things out”.

I await with interest.