CAMPAIGN DIRECT: Shopping with Campaign - Mobile phone tariffs. In this month’s Shopping with Campaign, Direct editor Eleanor Trickett decides she’s been on her old mobile phone tariff too long and looks at the alternatives

Like a comfortable old relationship that I can’t be bothered to finish, I’ve settled with Vodafone’s Talk 120 for nearly two years and felt it was high time I considered fresher alternatives. Especially as Martin Dawes, my Vodafone contractor, is one of the most incompetent companies I have ever had the misfortune to deal with.

Like a comfortable old relationship that I can’t be bothered to

finish, I’ve settled with Vodafone’s Talk 120 for nearly two years and

felt it was high time I considered fresher alternatives. Especially as

Martin Dawes, my Vodafone contractor, is one of the most incompetent

companies I have ever had the misfortune to deal with.



But first, I decide to give Vodafone one last chance to make our

relationship work. I phone Vodafone Retail and the brilliantly trained

woman who answers immediately asks me how I am planning to use my mobile

(mainly business with some ill-advised evening post-champagne

drink-and-dial shenanigans thrown in). My current tariff - pounds 25 for

120 minutes per month - turns out to be the best but, if I buy a year in

advance, I save pounds 80, with further discounts in year two.



Next I ring Orange, whose advertising is utterly seductive, and whose

telesales operator is utterly useless. Through constant prompting by me

(’Any bundling discounts? Who sells your phones for you? How much will

120 minutes a month cost me for a whole year?’), he eventually gives me

another number. Poor love. He’s probably slumped at his desk, drooling,

as I write. I phone the other number and they tell me that 120 minutes a

month is pounds 25 but there are no bundling discounts.



So, on to One2One. Although the customer services representative has

more synapses intact than the previous halfwit, he still needs a lot of

prompting. Again, pounds 25 for 120 minutes, but I only find this out

once he’s led me up a few garden paths (why didn’t he listen to my

specific request?), and there’s no bundling.



BT Cellnet’s number is engaged - not a great start. When it finally

answers, I pick the ’customer helpline’ option, but this is just

recorded information.



I hang up and dial again - engaged. Once I have retrieved my phone from

a colleague’s bin I try again.



After five minutes on hold, a mumbling chap tells me he can’t be

bothered to take me through the options as there are too many - he’ll

send me some leaflets. Oh no he won’t. ’Will it help if I’m specific

about my requirements?’ I ask sweetly. Barely concealing his contempt,

he invites me to go ahead with a grudging sigh. The tariff, aggressively

explained, is not great anyway but with this kind of customer service BT

Cellnet has just won itself a slot in Campaign Direct’s Hall of

Shame.



Finally, I try Virgin Mobile. It’s rather complicated but it comes in at

about pounds 18 per month for 120 minutes. The trouble is, all sorts of

confusing charges come in (not its fault) if I want to keep my number,

phone, etc, so it might be easier to stay with Vodafone. And with

Vodafone Retail’s bundling deal also coming in at pounds 18 per month,

it is the winner, against the odds. Hurrah! A relationship salvaged.



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