I've been playing with SkypeIn, which I've been meaning to do for ages. I was finally provoked into laying down my ten euros by reading the small print on my T-Mobile contract — which in turn I was provoked into doing by getting a £200 data bill (more on that soon). The thing that did for me was finding out that when I'm out of the country, UK calls to my UK voicemail seem to attract two lots of international roaming rates — "because we have to send the call to where you are and then back to the voicemail system" before I even pick them up. That and the pound per minute call charges.
So, the thing to do is set a divert before leaving the country, and by putting that divert to my SkypeIn number I can do all my call management over the net. SkypeIn comes with a reasonable voicemail system — the main drawback is you can't pick up calls without a computer — and in tests, it all works rather well. It's good enough to keep my money away from T-Mobile until my contract expires and I can try for someone less rapacious. If there is such a being.
A friend was trying something similar, but came across a technical hitch. Whenever he tried to set up a divert from his home phone to SkypeIn, he got number unobtainable. Curious. He phoned up his telco — OneTel — who said "Nothing to do with us, mate. BT handles the diverts". So off to BT, who said almost exactly the same thing but with the names reversed.
After a couple of rounds of punter ping-pong, our pal did some research and found it was possible to force the divert to go via BT or OneTel — for future reference, *21*1280
Which, in the end, he did. "A cracking person", he said (having seen too much Wallace and Gromit), "who revealed that the calls are routed through Cable and Wireless, and if I'd have known that at the time I'd never have signed up. "What a nightmare," I told them, "but then you know that. You have to deal with them every day." They just giggled and said "No comment"."