Virgin Mobile

The wonder of fibre…

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I have been a long term user of the Virgin fibre network in Nottingham (originally NTL), for both my TV and internet. It is fair to say that until recently their service has been brilliant, with downtime counted in hours over many years.

Sadly over the last few weeks there have been some issues – the majority national ones caused by DNS server issues – something that could happen to any provider but extremely annoying! Add to this the recent underground fire that completely took out much of South Notts as far as Virgin was concerned for days and you get the picture – I was ready to call the retention department at Virgin to vent my frustrations.

speed

So the other day I rang, was offered some deals to stay by the ‘normal’ call centre, but was then passed to retention and got a monthly reduction and a speed increase to 152mb for my broadband.

Now you read about fast connections and how quickly things download at this connection speed – but when you actually experience 152mbps it is really impressive! And my connection currently is slightly faster than that as you can see above! Very large downloads (GB’s) take a few minutes rather than half an hour or more. I am impressed and as long as the recent DNS issues are a thing of the past I will continue to praise Virgin Broadband.

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Social Media – the importance of a good data connection…

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There are certain things in life that we take for granted – the sun rising in the morning and setting at night, England disappointing us at football – you get the idea. And as the world changes our expectations change also, who would have imagined 10 years ago that we would all expect to be able to access mobile data where ever we are to interact with social media (and collect email etc).

The smart phone has become an essential part of so many people’s lives now and we expect it to work all of the time 100% effectively. Apple, Samsung and Microsoft have done their best to facilitate this with their hardware and software – all of which still never ceases to amaze me with what it can do. However there is a weak link in all this…… and that is the networks.

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You can have the best bit of hardware in the world, but if you can’t get mobile data it is about as much use as a brick! My experience at the Test Match at Trent Bridge this week was a classic example. I was intending to twitter via the @InnesEngland twitter account from the match, and I did, but not to the degree I wanted to due to a lack of 3G signal from our carrier Vodafone. I know it wasn’t just me because my colleagues were having similar issues with data as well.

This is not a new phenomenon brought about by the increased use of mobile data, I have found Vodafone wanting on their coverage for many years. They have made some minor improvements, I actually got 3G in my home town of Malmesbury recently for the first time ever. But generally they lag well behind the other networks EE and in particular.

There was a time when the enterprise user was the most important user to a networks data provision, that may still be the case but for different reasons as Social Media usage explodes into that market. Perhaps it is time for the various networks to share their masts and provide the sort of service the rest of Europe already experiences.

Not great being proved right…….

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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?

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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!

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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.

Regards

Simon

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?

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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?

It’s good to talk….

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You may recall the BT advert from a few years ago that tried to get us all to use our telephones to talk to each other – it was apparently ‘good to talk’. Time moves on and it now seems that it isn’t and we are more likely to text each other than speak!

According to Ofcom while 58% of people communicated via texts on a daily basis in 2011, only 47% made a daily mobile call, the shift away from traditional ways of keeping in touch being led by young people aged 16-24 (no surprise if you have your own teenager).

The report confirms that on average UK consumer now send 50 texts per week while fewer calls are being made on both fixed and mobile phones (certainly our home phone is more of a decoration now).

However for the first time, there was a fall in the volume of mobile calls – by just over 1% – in 2011, while landline calls were down by 10% and overall time spent on the phone fell by 5% in 2011.

This change in behaviour is believed to be down to greater ownership of internet-connected devices – smartphones like the iPhone;

  • 39% of adults now own a smart phone, a 12% increase on 2010.
  • 42% of these now say their smart phone is the most important device for accessing the internet, with a similar percentage regularly using social networking sites and 51% using e-mail.
  • The average consumer spends 90 minutes a week accessing social networking sites and email.
  • Tablet ownership is also on the rise, with 11% owning such a device, up from 2% last year.
  • According to Ofcom, tablets are most often used in the home as a “snacking version” of the home PC.

So probably no surprises here, but a confirmation that the smart phone is beginning to play a very important part in all our lives – and is perhaps going to kill off the basic telephone before too long. It is also sad that people now prefer not to talk to each other. Is this the start of something more insidious in our behaviour?