Thursday 5/12/2002Telcos. Hah. Mobile telcos. Double hah.

Thursday 5/12/2002
Telcos. Hah. Mobile telcos. Double hah. Bunch of incompetent thieving greed-ridden rejects from estate agent school, right? Shockingly, this isn't always the case. For various reasons mostly connected with my own financial ineptitude, I've been stuck on a pay-as-you-go tariff from Virgin for the past couple of years. No real complaints, but roaming doesn't work too well and the call costs aren't the lowest. Yesterday, someone on the mobile conference on Cix reported a too-good-to-be-true deal from Carphone Warehouse that turned out to be kosher: Nokia 3310 phone for ten quid on the T-Mobile Free Time 750 tariff. Fourteen quid a month, 750 minutes off-peak free, 50 text messages, blah blah -- but after four months, CW pay your entire year's line rental. OK so it's last year's phone, but it's unlocked and they're reliable as anything. Just what I need after months of battling with smartphones that never do quite what you want. I order the thing over the Web, and it turns up as advertised the next day. Time to enter an unknown world... transferring my mobile number. I read up about this online: you have to get a magic code from your existing network, give it to your new network, the new network then gives it back to the old one and at some point in the future your new mobile phone magically acquires your old number. Dealing with two telcos, one of whom is losing your custom, sounds like a recipe for disaster to yours truly, but nothing ventured... And in practice, it works with an ease that beggars belief. Virgin answers its customer service phone immediately -- how come that never happened before? -- and mournfully ask why I'm leaving them. I tell them, and within seconds they give me my code over the phone and wish me a fond farewell. The customer service bod is so nice about it, I feel positively guilty about the whole business. Then I phone T-Mobile to give them the code. Again, the phone is answered in seconds by someone who knows exactly what to do: there's a brief tapping of keys and I'm given the time -- to the hour, more or less -- when the transfer will happen. And that's that. Except for the letter from Virgin that turns up later, giving me a copy of the code and another nice little farewell. So it can happen that an experience with mobile phone companies is positive, painless and productive. Many more shocks like this and I'll have hair as white as Gandalf. But it's nice to have good things to write about.