Mobile phone companies are crap

After posting about the iPhone yesterday, I thought I should mention that figuring out what service was best for me was a real pain. It should have been easy, but it wasn’t.

Because I had unusual plans — buying a Pay & Go phone and then switching to a 1-month rolling contract — I rang O2 twice before buying anything. I wanted to make sure that Visual Voicemail, unlimited wifi and tethering would work on a non-iPhone contract, and was assured that they would be.

After getting the phone, I found that Visual Voicemail didn’t work, and called O2, assuming it was a configuration problem… but no. They said Visual Voicemail and tethering are unavailable on anything other than an iPhone contract, which is not what they said before. I suggested some possible solutions to this:

Could you turn on these features without using an iPhone contract? Answer: No. Apparently it’s “technically impossible”.

Could you put me on an iPhone contract with an appropriate discount and no minimum term (since I already have the phone) Answer: No. “The system won’t let me do that.” — “Can I speak to someone who can authorise it?” — “No one could authorise that” — “What!?”

I had a bit of a go at the guy and was called back by a manager, who offered me a month’s free line rental to make up for it, but still. I felt pretty messed around, especially since i had taken so much care to ensure that everything would be ok. Ho hum.

In any case, I do now have the new iPhone, and it’s lovely (despite O2’s crummy 3G coverage), and I’m terribly happy with it. It is an awesome piece of kit: so awesome, it turns out, that it can even balance out the monumental crapness of mobile phone companies.

If only it was available to Orange customers…

Edited to add:

I forgot to mention that O2 were pretty rubbish even before I got my hands on the phone. I ordered it online on the Friday morning when it was released. The website asked me when I wanted when I wanted it to be delivered, so I picked a free slot on Monday morning. It didn’t arrive. My card was billed — all, I thought, was good. I rang O2, and they said it would arrive in the next couple of days.

On Tuesday, perhaps over-enthusiastically, I rang O2 again to ask when it would come, only to be told that they’d run out of stock and cancelled the order.

Beyond the initial confirmation email, I didn’t hear from them at all. They didn’t tell me a thing. #Fail.