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
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
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.